When This Means War! was released in the Fall of 1987, the group had already been in existence for 15 years, and would go on for another 18 more years afterward, not including later reunions. Sliding through the timeline of Petra, This Means War! is certainly a standout album.
Some may say the 1990 Beyond Belief is the band’s best, while others might like the previous Greg X. Volz More Power To Ya, or Beat the System albums better. But suffice it to say, “War!” is certainly one of the band’s all-around best.
The previous album, Back to the Street, had been the first for the raspy lead singer and former Head East frontman John Schlitt, who had replaced the crystal-clear voiced Greg Volz. Back to the Street had also been the first Petra album for production duo John and Dino Elefante (who had returned here and for several more albums afterward). So the group had just undergone a whole new musical makeover, from the ‘Boston’ -esque Volz era, to a new ‘Journey/Def Leppard’ sound. It was quite a sudden, striking transformation for fans to grapple with; and it wasn’t uncommon to hear kids in youth groups debate which lead singer was the best for years to come.
For the previous 15 years, Petra had stood out as a strong, solid hard-rock band with energetic rhythms and catchy melodies; soaring lead vocals and harmonies; blistering guitar solos; and impressive keyboard action. War! does not disappoint. In fact, it was the ultimate culmination of all of those things and quite literally, makes the band truly live up to its name (Petra is Greek for ‘massive rock’).
The album begins with the thunderous album-title opener (a bit reminiscent of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”), and remains at a steady pace of impressive, entertaining, energetic and melodic hard-rock anthems with strong Biblical messages throughout. The album’s two ballads are highlights as well. There is not one filler on the album, and after 30 years, although the drums and keyboards have dated it a bit, has not lost its punch.
In fact, it stands as much a classic arena-rock album as any of its 80s secular counterparts.