FAITH OR FEAR, Demo of Fear ’86 (1986, demo)
Who’s not scared of pirates, right? I mean, when you imagine your worst nightmare, the most abject terror, of course you picture the Jolly Roger. THAT’S that kind of fear we’re talking about. And not just any pirates, either, but ’86 pirates, with goofy haircuts and clothes that are a patchwork of dayglo neons and corporate logos. That’s some serious shit-your-pants fear, right? Right?
Some people only know Faith or Fear as the band who donated guitarist Meritt Gant to Overkill, but in truth, Gant was only in the band for about a year. Anyone else who knows Faith or Fear is likely to consider them a very poor substitute for a great melodic thrash band like Forbidden. It’s not that Faith or Fear were terrible, because they were reasonably good. It’s just that “reasonably good” among thrash bands in the late 80s put you pretty far down the ladder. I always wanted to like this band more than I do, because I have a soft spot for thrash bands with melodic singers, but Tim Blackman just isn’t a very good vocalist. His range is pretty narrow (excepting a few screams) and he doesn’t do a whole lot with what he has. But, he’s not awful, and the music is crunchy and more-or-less well written, so even though Faith or Fear were a decidedly third tier band, I guess you could say they were one of the better bands in that cohort. This is their first demo, and while only one of these songs made it to their lone full-length (recorded before their reunion, I mean), their sound was more or less in place from the start. Again, imagine Forbidden, minus the trickiest riffs and most of the hooks. That’s Faith or Fear. Of course, hailing from New Jersey, Faith or Fear were more likely to sprinkle in tough guy posturing than their left coast contemporaries, but at least they never devolved into goofy silliness, a la Anthrax at their worst (or best, I guess, if that’s how your tastes run.) Obviously, if you’ve never heard this band, you’ll want to start (and probably end) with their 1989 full length, Punishment Area, and even if you get beyond that, there’s a new album (which I haven’t heard) and a compilation of rerecorded demo tracks (although not stretching back so far as to encompass this particular demo), so you’d have to be really, really into Faith or Fear to have any reason to listen to Demo of Fear ’86 and probably everyone who would ever be that into this band already owns an original cassette copy.
— Friar Johnsen