Flashback Friday Album Review: Rock in a Hard Place

My introduction to Bloodgood was their 1987 effort, Detonation.

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I remember hanging out on the steps of my brother’s church–of which he was the youth leader–hearing some of the older and way-cooler, long-haired youth groupers talking to him about Detonation and its chilling, “Alone in Suicide.” That, plus it’s awesome cover art, and the fact that I had just gotten into Stryper and was looking for some other heavier stuff, probably convinced me to go out and buy it. But it was a bit much for my younger pre-teen ears. So a year or so later when I saw that Rock in a Hard Place had been released, I wasn’t all that thrilled. But when another older, hipper, youth grouper had talked it up–and had said that it was toned down a bit, I thought I’d give it a try. Especially after having heard a sample on Hot Metal Summer.

I’m glad I did. Not only did I get a taste of Bloodgood’s new album (the song, “Heaven on Earth”), but I was also introduced to two bands–Shout and Barren Cross–and quickly ran out to buy their tapes as well.

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Though pure metal enthusiasts might have rather had a Detonation -esque revival, Rock in a Hard Place still packed a punch. It had plenty of David Zaffiro’s guitars roaring like a tidal wave, smoothly melting a melodic rhythm that fused together Mark Welling’s thunderous drums and Les Carlson’s passionate, angsty voice. Though many have mentioned the lack of thumping bass from the band’s namesake, Michael Bloodgood, but to be honest, it never really bothered me.

Zaffiro’s blend of acoustics to lighten up the rhythm guitar parts were a nice touch, too. And the drumbeat and acoustic intro to, “The World (Keeps Movin’ Around)” still gets stuck in my head even to this day. Like other albums reviewed on this blog, the acoustics were used before they were a thing. At that time, they had been, to the best of my recollection, used for lighter -style albums like Amy Grant’s Lead Me On, which came out that same year. Here, they quite nicely and creatively blend in with a hard rock/heavy metal style. This was the first time I had heard acoustic guitar used in a way that accommodated a hard rock sound, and it works well.

Also appreciated are the passionate lyrics on songs such as “The Presence,” “What Have I Done,” and “She’s Gone,” which was likely the sequel to Detonation’s “Alone in Suicide.” In addition is the strong poetic imagery on the album’s closing songs–the aforementioned, “The World (Keeps Movin’ Around)” and “Seven.”

From here, Zaffiro launched a solo and production career, and the rest of the band launched two more phenomenal studio albums (Out of the Darkness and All Stand Together), plus a two-volume live CD and accompanying video set, Alive in America and Shakin’ the World.

For whatever reason, I had given away my copies of Rock in a Hard Place and the live albums. But years later, like my Mike Stand CD, I bought the two-fer version of Rock in a Hard Place and Out of the Darkness released by KMG records. Their self-titled debut and Detonation were also packaged this way.

 

 

 

Now, to replace the live albums. And like Resurrection Band’s 20 Years Live and Bootleg, Bloodgood proved that they were just as talented in concert as they were in the studio–perhaps even better. What was I thinking?

 

 

I know I’m going to get a lot of slack for saying this since most people I come across (both on and off the internet) prefer Detonation. But, in my opinion, Bloodgood’s material after Detonation are perhaps among my personal favorite Christian metal/hard rock albums of all time.

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