In 1983 Dale and Troy Thompson started a band named Matrix in Louisville, Kentucky. Matrix recorded four self-financed demos, which were distributed at live shows and through the mail via Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM) and various fanzines of the day. Their ministry continued to grow in the Christian rock underground but it was not until 1986 that they managed to break into the mainstream. Opening for Daniel Band in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Matrix caught the eye of the representatives of Refuge Records who were forming their subsidiary label Pure Metal. In the latter part of 1986, there were two events that occurred simultaneously that would ultimately be a major turning point for the band. It had been nearly six months since Refuge Records expressed serious interest in the band. In an effort to expedite an impending offer from Refuge, Dale and Troy mailed to the Refuge office all of the hundreds of letters from fans all across the United States. Additionally amid the growing popularity of the Ohio based secular Matrix, the decision was made to change the name to Bride. Shortly thereafter, Bride became the second band to be signed to the Refuge Records subsidiary label Pure Metal. So in October of 1986 the band started to record their debut, 'Show No Mercy, released later the same year.

SHOW NO MERCY (1986, 1999) M8/MAGDALENE RECORDS

SHOW NO MERCY - THE ORIGINALS: DISC ONE (1986, 2011) RETROACTIVE RECORDS

  1. Evil That Men Do

  2. Now He Is Gone

  3. Fly Away

  4. Forever In Darkness

  5. Follow Your Heart

  6. Show No Mercy

  7. I Will Be With You

  8. Thunder In The City

  9. No Matter The Price

  10. The First Will Be The Last

M8 version Bonus Tracks:

  1. I Can Fly Now

  2. Welcome/What Must I Do

  3. Butterfly

  4. Missing Children

  5. Fright

  6. Look At Me Now

  7. No Matter The Price (demo)

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals

Troy Thompson: Guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, violin

Steve Osborne - Lead Guitar

Stephan Rolland: Drums

Scott Hall: Bass

 

After being the second band to sign a record deal with Pure Metal Records, the Louisville, KY based band Matrix decided to change their name to Bride, due to the rising popularity of a secular band also using the name Matrix (perhaps the Austin, TX based band?). So in October 1986 Bride entered the studio to record their debut album, named 'Show No Mercy', on a shoestring budget.

Several old Matrix songs were re-recorded for Bride's debut album. Truth is the Thompson brothers were always great songwriters, with a knack for memorable choruses. Troy and Steve delivers some great twin-guitar work, and Dale's signature screams and wails are what sets this band apart from the rest of their contemporaries, like Saint and Messiah Prophet, 2 band that were signed to the same label as Bride, and the most logical bands to compare them with. This is just no frills heavy metal, delivered with a message of hope and salvation.

'Show No Mercy' did make an impact when it was first released, even more so than their record company had anticipated. Despite the lack on the production side, a hungry Christian metal crowd ate this up, hook, line and sinker!  The combined efforts from a young band, out to prove themselves to the world, sounds just as good to my ears today as it did back when 'Show No Mercy' was a new release.

'Show No Mercy' was originally released on Pure Metal Records in late 1986, on vinyl and cassette only. The album was not available on CD until M8 reissued it in 1999. This Limited Edition reissue came with a slightly altered cover, and several bonus-tracks. Most, if not all, of the bonus tracks were from the Matrix demos. My version is signed by Troy and Dale, but I have no clue if the signatures are real. In 2011 Retroactive Records reissued 'Show No Mercy' again, as the first in their 'The Originals'-series. This time the album was properly remastered by J. Powell at Steinhaus Mastering, making the album sound better than ever! This 6 panel digipack edition, complete with restored original artwork, and liner notes written by Troy Thompson, is definitely the ultimate version of 'Show No Mercy'

Trivia: The cover art is a classic Gustave Doré painting, named "The Destruction of Leviathan". It is inspired by Isaiah 27:1: "In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the Dragon that is in the sea."

Killer tracks: Now He Is Gone, Forever In Darkness, Show No Mercy, No Matter The Price, The First Will Be The Last

LIVE TO DIE (1988) PURE METAL

  1. Metal Might
  2. Hell No
  3. In The Dark
  4. Out For Blood
  5. Live To Die
  6. Fire And Brimstone
  7. Whiskey Seed
  8. Here Comes The Bride
  9. Heroes

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals

Troy Thompson: Guitar

Stephan Rolland: Drums

Steve Osbourne: Guitars

Frank Partipilo: Bass

Bride's second, and in my opinion best record, is an all metal album. No ballads, just signature Bride material. The production is a bit better than on their first album, but they still have a long way to go production-wise. Most fans that started listening to the band from the beginning, wish that Bride had stayed this way. "Hell No" is probably the best known track by this band, and it is still played live today. Dale's vocals was what made Bride stick out in the scene. He has this screaming, yet melodic voice. And here it comes to it's fullest. "Heroes" was also featured on the 1984 demo, 'Monkey See Monkey Do', recorded when Bride were still known as Matrix.

Rock trivia: Bride got to record this album at Grand Slam studio in West Orange, New Jersey. This studio was used to record some of Bon Jovi's early efforts. At the end of the record, after the song "Heroes", there is an awful noise which many have equated to the sound of demons (No one in Bride has ever heard a demon and can not attest to the similarity in sound). This was disturbing to many Bride fans who was not prepared for it; since it did appear after a sizable pause. The noise was simply the producer, John Petri, playing the inside of a piano while howling like Yoko Ono. He made it a point to wake the band up in the morning by making this hideous sound. The band thought the noise was funny, not scary, and wanted it on the album as a reminder of the fun they had in the studio.

Killer tracks: Metal Might, Hell No, In The Dark, Fire And Brimstone, Heroes

 SILENCE IS MADNESS (1989, 1999) M8

  1. Fool Me Once
  2. Hot Down South Tonight
  3. Silence Is Madness
  4. Until The End We Rock
  5. Evil Dreams
  6. Under The Influence
  7. All Hallow's Eve
  8. No More Nightmares
  9. Rock Those Blues Away

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Everybody Knows My Name

  2. Same Ol' Sinner
  3. Military Halo
  4. Child Of Hell
  5. Butterfly
  6. His Love Is Everywhere
  7. Studio Junkie
  8. Lost In His Love

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals

Troy Thompson: Guitar

Stephan Rolland: Drums

Frankie Partipilo: Bass

Additional musicians:

Rob Johnson: Lead Guitar on 1, 2, 3, 5, 8

Armand Jon Petri: Keyboards

Max Maxwell: Background Vocals on 4, 5, 6

Edna Nelson & Janice A. Francofone: Background Vocals on 2

Souls Of Solomon: Background Vocals on 9

Bill "Bolan" Scott: Harmonica on 9

John Caruso: Bass Guitar on 6

Bride's 3rd effort is regarded by most as the last of the classic Bride albums. I never heard this album when it was new, but managed to hunt down a copy of the reissue M8 released in 1999.

Reviews I read about this release called it another full on heavy metal platter from Bride. But to me the band showed a more diverse side of Bride here, at least with songs like "Hot Down South Tonight" and "Rock Those Blues Away", both of whom are heavily blues influenced. Still, the brother part of the album is filled with signature, old school Bride material. So "Fool Me Once", "Silence Is Madness" and the very heavy "Evil Dreams" are all choice cuts. I just don't find the album as a whole to be as strong as 'Live To Die' or 'Show No Mercy'. 'Silence Is Madness' has much better production then it's predecessors. But better production could never save lesser songwriting. "All Hallow's Eve" was originally featured on the 1984 demo, 'Monkey See Monkey Do', recorded when the band was still named Matrix.

The M8 reissue contains 8 bonus-tracks! The first 2 of them were recorded for this album, but they weren't releases before the best-of compilation, 'End Of The Age' a year later. The rest are songs are from either Dale Thompson's 1983 solo album, 'Lost In His Love', or old Matrix demos. The solo songs doesn't fit in here at all, and should have been saved for a reissue of said album instead.

Killer tracks: Fool Me Once, Silence Is Madness, Until The End We Rock, Evil Dreams, All Hallow's Eve

BEST OF BRIDE - END OF THE AGE (1990) PURE METAL

  1. Everybody Knows My Name

  2. Hell No

  3. Hot Down South Tonight

  4. Forever In Darkness

  5. Heroes

  6. Same Ol' Sinner

  7. Thunder In The City

  8. Fire And Brimstone

  9. Evil That Men Do

  10. All Hallow's Eve

As the title reveals, this is a compilation album. Apparently the songs were picked due to letters Bride received from their fans. The title also reveals that this was the end of an era for the band. And 2 brand new tracks, at the time exclusive to this release, showed us the direction in which the band was heading.  "Same Ol' Sinner" and "Everybody Knows My Name" delivers more hard rock then metal. Still, they don't seem misplaced in-between the straight up metal numbers, compiled from the 3 albums Bride had under their belt already. These tracks also mark the debut from the new line-up of Bride, later appearing on their next album, 'Kinetic Faith', a year later. "Everybody Knows My Name" would also end up on said album. There is not much else to say about this CD, other than that several of the song titles are misspelled on the track lists.

KINETIC FAITH (1991) PURE METAL

  1. Troubled Times
  2. Hired Gun
  3. Ever Fallen In Love
  4. Mountain
  5. Ski Mask
  6. Everybody Knows My Name
  7. Young Love
  8. Kiss The Train
  9. Crimes Against Humanity
  10. Sweet Louise

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals, Background Vocals

Troy Thompson: Guitar, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar

Jerry McBroom: Drums

Rik Foley: Bass

Additional musicians:

Rob Johnson: Acoustic Guitar, Slide Guitar, Mandolin on 10, Lead and additional Rhythm Guitars

Steve Griffith: Background Vocals on 7, 10

 

So this is the direction Bride were heading. You heard it on the 2 new songs on the compilation, and here we hear it on the entire album. All in all it is not so far from 'Silence Is Madness', only a bit more hard rock, and less metal. I would describe it as a mix between Mötley Crüe and Billy Idol!! I like some of the songs, but others, like "Ski Mask" (what a lame title) have not become friends with me. Too bad that when Bride finally got to have good sound on their albums, they changed their style. This will not be a dust-collector, but not a frequent player either.

Killer tracks: Troubled Times, Young Love

 SNAKES IN THE PLAYGROUND (1992) STAR SONG

  1. Rattlesnake
  2. Would You Die For Me
  3. Psychedelic Super Jesus
  4. Fallout
  5. Saltriver Shuffle
  6. Dust Through A Fan
  7. I Miss the Rain
  8. Unlisted - instrumental
  9. Don't Use Me
  10. Picture Perfect
  11. Love, Money
  12. Some Things Never Change
  13. Unlisted - instrumental
  14. Goodbye

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals, Background Vocals, Tambourine, Shakers

Troy Thompson: Guitar, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Viola

Jerry McBroom: Drums

Rik Foley: Bass

Additional musicians:

Rick Elias - Harmonica on 1, 5

Dez Dickerson - Trade-off Guitar Solo on 1

Greg Martin - Guitar Solo on 2, Pickin' and Grinnin' on 5, 2nd Guitar Solo on 8

Plinky - Background Vocals on 3, Piano & Keyboards on 7, 14

Derek Jan - Guitar Solo on 6

Ricke Florian - Harmony Vocals on 7

Peter Furier & John James - Background Vocals on 8, 9

I actually bought this album as a new release. Back then I really liked the album, but after a while I grew tired of it. However, when revisiting it every now and then, I still find that I like many of the songs on the album, and I guess I even prefer 'Snakes In The Playground' over 'Kinetic Faith'. "I Miss The Rain" is a beautiful ballad, with Troy playing the mandolin!! Still this is the last album by this band, that I want to own. All releases from now on are of no interest to me, because they contain no metal related material at all.

Killer tracks: Rattlesnake, Would You Die For Me, I Miss The Rain

SCARECROW MESSIAH (1994) STAR SONG

  1. Beast
  2. Place
  3. Murder
  4. Scarecrow
  5. Crazy
  6. Time
  7. One
  8. Doubt
  9. DadMom
  10. Thorns
  11. Questions

Line-up:

Dale Thompson: Vocals

Troy Thompson: Guitar

Jerry McBroom: Drums

Rik Foley: Bass

Additional musicians:

Melissa Ludolph - Female Vocals on 2, 6

Oz Fox - Guitar Solo on 8

 

Reading the last sentences in my 'Snakes In The Playground' review seems a bit weird now, since I once again have started to collect some more Bride. 'Scarecrow Messiah' is yet another hard rock album from them. A couple of the tracks are good, like the title-track. But the rest are mediocre hard rock, at best.

Killer tracks: Beast, Scarecrow

SHOTGUN WEDDING... 11 #1 HITS & MRS. (1995) STAR SONG

  1. Psychedelic Super Jesus (The Buzzsaw Mix)
  2. Would You Die For Me
  3. Everybody Knows My Name
  4. Place
  5. Fallout
  6. Same Ol' Sinner
  7. Time (The 12 Gauge Mix)
  8. Rattlesnake
  9. Troubled Times
  10. Beast
  11. Hired Gun (The Anvil Mix)

Yet another compilation disc. This one marks the end of the bands relationship with Star Song. And I'll be darned if the title of the CD is not an indication of the bands feelings toward this release. 11 #1 hits, compiled from Bride's last 3 efforts is what you get. So overlooking the 3 remixes, done by David Huff of Giant fame, which I could not really hear any differences in, this is "old new" so to speak. This is not my favorite Bride era, so this album is a collection filler, rather then anything I spend time listening to. Gotta love finding it used in an antique shop for under $3 though.

THIS IS IT (EXPANDED) (2003, 2006) RETROACTIVE RECORDS

  1. Blow It All Away
  2. To The Sky
  3. More Than Human
  4. Drop D
  5. Head Lookin' For A Bullet
  6. Best I Expect To Do
  7. Evil Geniuses
  8. Revolution
  9. Barren River Blues
  10. Microphone
  11. Short Time In The Grave
  12. Universe
  13. White Elephant
  14. Blow It All Away *
  15. Is This The Now *
  16. Bring Me Down *
  17. Burning Love *

Line-up:

Dale Thompson - Vocals

Troy Thompson, Guitars, Sitar, Cello, Violin

Michael Loy - Drums and Percussion

Lawrence Bishop - Bass

 

* bonus tracks from the 'Raw' demo

original artwork

Every time Bride releases a new album, the same thing happens. They say that the new album will be a return to their roots, and I expect more metal. But every time they continue to follow the trends, and I get disappointed. I mean, how's playing modern rock or rapcore returning to the sound of 'Live To Die' or even 'Scarecrow Messiah'? So when the hype about 'This Is It' was raging, I stayed pretty calm. It was not until Bride put a sample of a new track on their website that I dared to get excited again. This time the rumors seemed to be true. The band has managed to pull off a return of sorts. 'This Is It' has a lot in common with 'Snakes In The Playground' and 'Scarecrow Messiah'. Sure, we get some modern influences here and there. But most of all we get songs that sticks to my mind. Guitar-driven hard rock, with plenty groove-laden hooks, and Dale's great singing! I'm not loving all the songs on this album, and they could easily have dropped a title or two to make it an even better CD. But for the most part I like what I hear. Bride sound better, and heavier, than they have in a decade!

The 2006 reissue from Retroactive Records sports 4 bonus tracks, taken from a demo EP, entitled 'Raw', which the band released to raise money to record 'This Is It'. The reissue have been remastered, but this is not audible to an untrained ear like mine. Also the cover art has been slightly changed.

Killer tracks: Blow It All Away, To The Sky, Drop D, Head Lookin' For A Bullet, Microphone

TSAR BOMBA (2009) RETROACTIVE RECORDS (Digipack)

  1. Industrial Christ
  2. All We Are
  3. Prokofiev - instrumental
  4. Love Shine
  5. 1973 - instrumental
  6. We Are Together
  7. Never
  8. Separate
  9. Nothing Means Anything To Me
  10. Bach Minuet - instrumental
  11. Last Thing I Feel
  12. Chopin Nocturne In E Flat Minor - instrumental
  13. Downward
  14. Look In My Head
  15. When I Was A Kid
  16. Rhapsodie Für Eine Gitarre - instrumental
  17. We Are The People

Line-up:

Dale Thompson - Vocals and Percussion

Troy Thompson, Guitars and Piano

Jerry McBroom - Drums and Percussion

Glenn Watts - Bass Guitar

Additional musicians:

Steve Osbourne - Additional Guitars and Guitar solos

Tim Bushong, Mike Leeson, Zak Thompson - Background Vocals

Madison Thompson - Performing 12

McKenzie Thompson - Performing "Für Elise" in 7

Frustrated with the music business, the ongoing theological controversy and the heavy critique of the band's ever-changing direction, the Thompson brothers decided to lay Bride to rest. After spreading the Good News through hard music for over 25 years, they decided that 2009's 'Tsar Bomba' was gonna be their last album. Initially it was announced that it would be a fan financed effort, and that contributors would have access to a closed area on the internet, where they could look in on the recording process. But when time came to give birth to this swansong, Retroactive Records picked it up, and released it.

Now, what would you, as a long time fan of a band, going back 20 years, wanna hear when they decided to close the curtains? A trip down memory lane perhaps? A return to roots? Well, anyone who has followed this band even remotely knows that is not going to happen. 'Tsar Bomba' awkwardly named after a Russian nuclear super bomb, sees a band once again completely ignoring what the old timers want, and instead delivers a CD filled with personal experiments. 17 tracks, 5 instrumentals and no stand-outs! OK, I might be a little harsh here. But fact is, I find nothing I really want to hear again on this album. The album aims to be everything for everyone. So most of the songs are modern rock "disguised" as metal. It's all experimental without being groundbreaking. I think I'd actually liked many of these tracks was it not for the modern "mindset", with downtuned riffs and effects all over the place. I'd get rid of at least half the songs on 'Tsar Bomba' and create a much better flowing album.

On a more positive note though, it seems that the Thompson's are at least very honest on this record. This is the true Bride sound anno 2009. and not some trend hopping fluke. Both Dale and Troy are delivering some of their best work with their respective instruments. It's also nice to hear Steve Osbourne again after all these years. He hasn't played with Bride since 'Live To Die'. As a one time curiosity, it was also fun to hear "Rhapsodie Für Eine Gitarre", an acoustic cover version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Bride's swansong is not the bomb (pun intended) they set out to create, in my opinion. However, it is still another good enough effort in a long run of Bride's hard rockin' albums.

Killer tracks: Industrial Christ, All We Are, Nothing Means Anything To Me, Downward

Bride also appear on:  

V/A - 'Heavy Righteous Metal'

V/A - 'Heavy Righteous Metal II'

V/A - 'The Axemen'

 

Dale Thompson guest appearances:

Liberty N' Justice - 'Soundtrack Of A Soul'

Liberty N' Justice - '4 All: The Best Of LNJ'

Liberty N' Justice - 'Light It Up'

 

 

Troy Thompson guest appearances:

Liberty N' Justice - 'Soundtrack Of A Soul'

Liberty N' Justice - '4 All: The Best Of LNJ'

Liberty N' Justice - 'Light It Up'