JOSHUA – Intense Defense [Bad Reputation Records reissue] HQ (out of print)
Formed in the early ’80s by virtuoso guitarist Joshua Perahia, JOSHUA delivered during the decade a bunch of very good records mixing hard rock, AOR and melodic US metal.
With a new line up including powerhouse vocalist Rob Rock, JOSHUA recorded “Intense Defense” in 1988, a collection of riff-driven commercial US metal / melodic hard rock characterized by melodic songwriting backed by the band’s polished vocal harmonies and first-rate musicianship.
Indeed, this is an ‘intense’ rocking album here in the Bad Reputation Records reissue, one of the first releases by the label after changing its name from Axe Killer Records.
JOSHUA their 1986 LP ‘Surrender’ on Polydor Records, and while they got its break during the European tour, Perahia set up a meeting with hit producer Dieter Dierks. Dierks arranged for Joshua to spend time in his own studio, and after recording nine demos in only one week, he put together a contract which led to the band signing to RCA six months later.
But before JOSHUA could begin recording, however, the band had to wait two years for Scorpions to get out of the studio. During this period all the members from the Surrender-era left which forced Perahia to form the line up that went on to record this 1988 RCA debut ”Intense Defense”.
After the band returned from Europe following the Surrender tour, Rob Rock (Project Driver) was hired to fill the lead vocalist position. The renowned Rock, who has also worked with the likes of Impellitteri and Warrior in addition to recording three solo albums, brings out the best in the band’s sound with his powerful and smooth sounding vocal delivery.
The tight drumming of Tim Gehrt joins with Emil Lech’s steady bass lines to comprise a rock solid rhythm section, while keyboardist Greg Schultz accents the bands sound without overriding the instrumentation.
And of course, Perahia is a wonderful 6-string talent, combining elements of groove and melody with his neo-classical influenced style of playing.
The band spent an entire year in Germany recording ”Intense Defense” with a budget eventually reaching one million marks (roughly $700,000). Nevertheless, the album was well worth the time and expense in that it showcases a refined and crystal clear sounding production job.
A more than adequate amount of rhythm guitar is placed upfront in a clean mix of lead guitar and keyboards. While the drum sound is tight and solid, the bass could have been mixed a bit more prominently, but on this Bad Reputation reissue all sounds better.
The keyboards opening “Reach Up” give way to pounding drums and a crisp rhythm guitar blended with a bit of lead guitar. After the rhythm guitar takes a backseat in the mix as the song reaches its first verse, it returns to a place of prominence to drive a catchy chorus backed by vocal harmonies. Perahia adds to the energetic atmosphere with a blistering guitar solo.
“I’ve Been Waiting” moves ”Intense Defense” in a commercial flavored melodic hard rock direction. An edgy guitar riff evenly propels the song at a laid back mid-tempo pace until it segues to a strong background vocal driven chorus. As “I’ve Been Waiting” peaks, it stops dead in its tracks for thirty seconds of the album’s best solos.
“Only Yesterday” begins to an exquisite blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards that transitions to several seconds of lead guitar. Proceeding through its first verse in a steady guitar driven fashion, the song culminates for a chorus highlighted by Rock’s pristine vocal delivery. A guitar solo with a symphonic feel opens an instrumental section ending to a heavy duty guitar riff.
The melodic rock of “Crying Out For Love” moves on to a good commercial flavored chorus, while the hard rocking “Living On The Edge” is by far the albums heaviest track. Carried through its first verse by an upfront mix of crunchy rhythm guitar, “Living On The Edge” immaculately flows to a smooth sounding chorus delivered at an upbeat tempo. Perahia’s lead guitar work starts in an aggressive and fast paced manner before transitioning to a more melodic style of playing.
There’s nice keyboards introducing “Tearing At My Heart” , and as the song gains momentum, an edgy rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix and quickly takes it to an anthem-like chorus with an ethereal feel. Perahia tops “Tearing At My Heart” off with a guitar solo that, while very well done, is a bit on the short side.
After keyboards convey the semi-ballad “Remembering You” through its first verse, a near perfect amalgamation of guitar and keyboards slowly drives it to a strong emotionally charged chorus. Perahia takes center stage with his melodic flavored lead guitar work.
Commencing to several seconds of tight sounding guitar harmony, “Look To The Sky” tapers off to an upfront mix of crisp guitar line that impels it to a chorus backed by operatic vocal harmonies. Thirty seconds of pull-out-all-of-the-stops lead guitar work helps put the song over the top.
The vocal harmonies at the start of “Don’t You Know” transition to several seconds of tight rhythm guitar harmony, the song maintaining an upbeat tempo as it advances on a chorus driven in a hard hitting manner by pounding drums. Subsequent to Perahia’s fiery guitar solo, “Don’t You Know” slows to a piano until it picks up in pace and closes by continually repeating its chorus.
Slowing fading in to a keyboard solo, “Stand Alone” gradually picks up pace during its first verse until the rhythm guitar kicks in and smoothly pushes it to a superlative vocal harmony driven chorus. Perahia’s neo-classical influenced guitar solo helps place the song among the albums stronger tracks.
For years the original RCA release of ”Intense Defense” remained hard to find and highly prized collectors items, until Bad Reputation put out this only official reissue with a very good sound & mastering.
Unfortunately Bad Reputation has become out of print too, but well worth to hunt a copy, at least used.
01 – Reach Up
02 – I’ve Been Waiting
03 – Only Yesterday
04 – Crying Out For Love
05 – Living On The Edge
06 – Tearing At My Heart
07 – Remembering You
08 – Look To The Sky
09 – Don’t You Know
10 – Stand Alone
Rob Rock – Lead Vocals
Joshua Perahia – Guitars
Greg Shultz – Keyboards
Emil Lech – Bass
Tim Gehrt – Drums
Jimmy Waldo (Alcatrazz) – Synths