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Petra - 1987 This Means War

ALBUM: This Means War
LABEL: Star Song
SERIAL: SSD 8084 (CD), SSR 8084 (vinyl)
YEAR: 1987


LINEUP: John Schlitt - vocals * Bob Hartmann - guitars * John Lawry - keyboards, backing vocals * Mark Kelly - bass, backing vocals * Louie Weaver - drums

Additional Musicians: Tom Hrbacek and Los Alamitos High School Marching Drummers - percussion on 'This Means War'

TRACK LISTING: 01 This Means War! * 02 He Came, He Saw, He Conquered * 03 Get On Your Knees And Fight Like A Man * 04 I Am Available * 05 Kenaniah * 06 You Are My Rock * 07 The Water Is Alive * 08 Don't Let Your Heart Be Hardened * 09 Dead Reckoning * 10 All The Kings Horses


Enter 1987 and things are looking up for Petra. They welcomed John Schlitt on board as lead vocalist with 1986's 'Back To The Street', a welcome return to form after the electronic dabbling of 'Beat The System'. Their long established AOR sound benefitted from the extra crunch that John's vocal power brought into play, as he provided Head East of old. Hopes were high for this recipe to continue, and they proved well founded.

The Songs
'This Means War' certainly sounds like they mean it, the title track coming on all regimental like a marching band, complete with chanted war cry chorus. Stern stuff and a rousing start. The influence of the Elefante brothers is immediately apparent in 'He Came He Saw He Conquered', comparable to 80's Kansas - this is the AOR bullseye. 'Get On Your Knees And Fight Like A Man' only deepens the Kansas comparison with it's changing tempos and another champion chorus. After the gentle balladry of 'I Am Available', a triple threat occurs that provides the heart of the album. 'Kenaniah' and 'You Are My Rock' both work in Journey territory, but shades of Triumph and Jefferson Starship are also in evidence. Even a hint of Boston in the solos. This is especially captivating and anthemic AOR, threatening to overload the coffee meter. 'The Water Is Alive' recalls Toto, that riff certainly a nephew to Steve Lukather - yet another soaring chorus seals the deal. Remaining highlights are the melodic energy of 'Dead Reckoning' and the assured midtempo AOR of album closer 'All The King's Horses'.

In Summary
If Petra's goal was to record a consistent batch of powerful AOR then they annihilated the target. Lyrical themes range from Lucifer's fall to old testament battle hymn authors to saving souls, conveyed well in my opinion. The public took to this album in a big way, Schlitt's vocal attack better suited to the more anthemic direction Bob Hartmann was taking the band into. No disrespect to Greg Volz who had a pure voice, this lineup just seemed like the right one to take Petra right to the top. In closing, their 70's and 80's albums are way overdue some reissue treatment.

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#1 | AOR Lee on September 28 2014 17:46:43
This AOR gem is available as a remaster now, I invested in a copy and I can confirm it sounds crisp and powerful. Best served with Masterton's coffee ... music

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