60. Warrior – Jerusalem

WARRIOR (1982)

Jerusalem

The very first time I ever saw the Swedish rock quartet Jerusalem live was at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa during one of their famous Saturday Night concerts. I remember being able to see from where I sat the Pastor for the evening steaming and freaking out back stage as the Ulf Christianson, lead singer and guitarist, walked up and down the aisles of the main sanctuary yelling “You are Sodom. America is Sodom. The Church is Sodom!”

I went to hundreds of Calvary concerts during my musical formative years and that remains one of the very few that I can remember nearly in its entirety, along with David Edwards, Resurrection Band, the debut of the Lifesavors and the 77′s concert that got the group banned from playing at the Saturday Night concerts. Jerusalem was touring to support their newest rock collection at that time, Warrior. Like the album itself, the night rocked!

The first two releases from Jerusalem, creatively titled Volume 1 and Volume 2, showed sparks of musical brilliance and powerful, heavy blues influenced rock, but nothing that could have prepared me for the onslaught that is Warrior. The first two releases were originally written in Swedish and then translated into English. This made for some odd, and nearly unforgivable lyrical expressions, where some things just didn’t translate well. It is said that Warrior was penned in English and it shows. the lyrics, though not overtly creative and original had a much better flow and rhyming scheme. But Warrior was more about package and message than creative content.

The albums kicks off with “Constantly Changing,” one the best rock anthems for its era. The riffs were more akin to something from Bad Company or Deep Purple with a monster hook filled guitar groove. Then comes some of the best drumming for the time. It is a non-stop lesson in how to write a memorable rock anthem. All hook, no dead spots and a great duel lead guitar solo.

One of the things I remember most from this album are the drums. Loud. Pounding. Relentless. Nearly every song seemed to have the drums up front and center in the mix. Again, for those unfamiliar with the history of Christian Music, drums were an inconvenience and best left to way back in the mix. Especially in 1981!

The other notable factor of Warrior is that there a lot of guitar solos and instrumentals. Most Christian music got right to the message and the musicianship and instrumentation was an afterthought. Not with Warrior. In fact, the title track has an over 3 minute instrumental introduction. And it, like the rest of the instrumentation on this album, is quite good. Loud guitars played with originality and passion.

Now it should be noted that Ulf’s voice can be an acquired taste. The thick accent trying to emphasize English words makes the voice sound strained at times, but never off key. But as for those who have seen Jerusalem live can attest, Ulf’s dialect struggles were made up for with the pure passion of a screaming evangelist with an electric guitar slung over his shoulder.

The title track follows with another three minutes minute or so instrumental introduction with a hard rock groove ala Bad Company or even touched of Rainbow. Like much of Jerusalem’s music on this album, songs are epic in scope and go through many time signature and musical expression changes. When the vocals kick in so does the music!

“Pilgrim” is short by the album’s standard at just over four minutes. It is also, in its own way, the mellowest cut on the album. The guitar is not as crunchy and the vocals significantly more restrained. The guitar solo has more in common with Dire Straits (as does the song itself musically) than Bad Company, Led Zeppelin or AC/DC.

The only misstep on the album is the quirky “It’s Mad.” What must have seemed like a good idea in the studio and was enjoyable the first few listens becomes childish and annoying with repeated listens. The retelling of the Biblical story of Jericho would have fit better on a children’s Bible story record. The introductory keyboards are out of place and the arrangement is just silly at times. But that one misstep does not deter from the rest of the album.

I will note that many people love the song and list it amongst their favorites from the album.

“Man of the World” returns to the heavier rock sound and if Christian radio had a real rock presence this would have worked well as a rock radio single. Again, the drum work here is tremendous and Ulf’s vocals are top notch. In fact, it is on songs like this that one can catch a glimpse of the live passion that band brought.

The centerpiece of the entire project is the epic (over 12 minute) Sodom. It is more like a mini-rock opera than a long song. It tells the story of a world that has rejected its creator and the results. Synthesizer and acoustic piano instrumentation starts the opus in something closer to Kansas than Bad Company. But that moves smoothly into a Blind Faith like bluesy rock. This then builds into straight ahead Robin Trower-like rock grooves with more intense and passionate vocals.  Finally, after a blistering and pounding guitar work that compares favorably to Eric Clapton (circa the 1970′s) for several minutes, the song slows down as Ulf’s vocals take over to proclaim like a prophet, “Sodom in the world today/Sweden is Sodom,/Europe is Sodom/America is Sodom.” This continues and builds with emotive ferocity until a hymn-like arrangement overtakes the entire scene and brings the epic to a close.

“Ashes In Our Hands” takes quite a while to get going with a very long fade in instrumental, but once it arrives it is relentless and packs a powerful punch. I love the drum accompanied bridge before kicking back into full rock form.

The album closes with the token ballad that it appears was a prerequisite for getting an album released on a Christian label. “Farewell” has an altar call feel musically, lyrically and “length-wise” as over six minutes. Even here Ulf’s voice will not be tamed for too long as he nearly loses control near the song ends pleading with the listener to seek the Lord while he may be found.

Despite only having 8 songs the full album clocks in at over 50 minutes! The length of the songs is precisely what makes the album so incredible. When a band can actually play their instruments at the level at which Jerusalem does, there is no reason to edit the songs…let ‘em play!

 

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  1. Don
    June 2, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Great story to start off with! I agree with your essential points – great heavy music, but Ulf’s voice may take some getting used to.

    A lot like Geddy Lee in my “book” – great voice but you may not like it at first. I never could get into Rush cause of his voice, but his voice is one of the biggest reasons a lot of people like Rush. I like Ulf’s voice now. Still don’t like Geddy’s but I can tolerate it.

  2. aarjayaitch
    June 2, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Count me as one of those for whom “It’s Mad” is a highlight not a misstep. I have loved this album for years and have never tired of that song. Otherwise, I agree with you wholeheartedly!

    • Don
      June 2, 2011 at 3:38 am

      I like It’s Mad as well. Nice change of pace. A pop tune!

  3. paulkcc
    June 2, 2011 at 3:31 am

    So what happened with the 77’s that got them banned? Enquiring minds want to know.

    • Don
      June 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

      look at the last 77s review for details. Mike Roe acting a little to “freewheeling” at a concert in their place.

  4. Shawn McLaughlin
    June 2, 2011 at 6:44 am

    I still haven’t heard a Jerusalem album other than Prophet, which was much more “Euro” flavored than their blues-rock releases. I have heard several tracks from Warrior on YouTube.

  5. adam
    June 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I liked “It’s Mad,” as well as the “Can’t Stop Us Now” follow-up, which a lot of folks DESPISE.

    In any respect, I remember when Jerusalem played here in Tulsa in 1985. They were MUCH louder than the facility owners had expected a nice Christian band to be. They were told they could only play slow songs. They responded they didn’t KNOW any slow songs. Finally, Ulf said they were going to play one more track (“Time”… it was the “In His Majesty’s Service” Tour) and they rocked so hard you thought the world was going to come to an end. Ulf offered to refund everyone’s money, and the audience declined…. those twenty minutes were the best concert EVER! 🙂

  6. Christopher™
    June 15, 2011 at 5:00 am

    I must agree that this is the best record this band ever recorded. I even own the Swedish-language version!

    Back in 1982, my church youth group and I traveled to the Lakeland Civic Center in central Florida to see Resurrection Band on their “Mommy” tour, and Jerusalem was the opening act. It definitely was one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever been to, and I think my ears were ringing for several hours afterwards!

    (Interesting fact: U2 would kick off their Zoo TV tour at the Lakeland Civic Center 10 years later.)

    What I remember most about Jerusalem’s performance was that their music struck me as so… *dark*. At least that’s how it sounded to my virgin ears at that time. When they played “Sodom” live, it seemed like the song would never end… but I didn’t want it to! It was a blistering performance. Now, when I listen to “Warrior,” it doesn’t sound very dark to me, so that’s kind of amusing.

    I’ll never forget that the very next night, I attended a Cynthia Clawson concert (because I had won tickets off of the radio). That was a mistake. The girl I took with me was from my youth group, so I was wearing my Rez Band T-shirt and she wore her Jerusalem T-shirt. When we looked up at the stage and saw no drums whatosever, we knew we were in for a long night. Poor Cynthia.

  7. Greenchili
    January 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

    “Again, for those unfamiliar with the history of Christian Music, drums were an inconvenience and best left to way back in the mix. Especially in 1981!”.. You’re not kidding! And that used to irritate me to no end!

    “It’s Mad” almost sounds like a song Servant could do and get away with.. 🙂

  8. Anders Mossberg
    April 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    For those of you who like Warrior. Almost the same line-up recorded “Those Were The Days” in 96. On that album we did many of the songs that were written at the same time as Warrior but for various reasons didn´t end up on the records in 78-80. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volym_3_(Those_Were_the_Days)
    And Jerusalem will tour Sweden in 2014. Check our website http://www.jerusalem.se or facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerusalem/147473398645
    Bless!

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