Saint Too Late for Living as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth Two gravestones with the names "Sue R. Later" and "R. U. Necst." Yeah, it's cheesy. It's also classic metal from 1988, and cheese was the name of the game. A solid classic metal release.

Too Late for Living

Artist: Saint

Label: Retroactive Records

Time: 9 tracks / 31:51 minutes

Pop on the record Too Late for Living by Saint. First, some chugga chugga classic 80s power riffs, then: listen as the lead guitarist opens the door to the recording room, shuts it behind him, picks up his guitar and does a quick shred solo before the vocals start.

Get it? Late for recording? Too Late for Living?

That is not the only pun - the record's sleeve features a painting of two gravestones with the names "Sue R. Later" and "R. U. Necst." Yeah, it's cheesy. It's also classic metal from 1988, and cheese was the name of the game.

This is another in a long line of excellent reissues of classic Christian metal albums on the wonderful Retroactive Records. These reissues are done right - restored artwork, historical and new liner notes, and most importantly fantastic remastering. Unfortunately this CD does not have any bonus tracks as some other Retroactive releases do. One presumes that there were no recordings of historic interest available to append to this release. Unfortunate - the album clocks in at a paltry 32 minutes.

Saint has been reissuing all of their classic records recently, and fans will no doubt be pleased - as bassist Richard Lynch states in the new liners, this is a fan favorite, often considered their best record. He also relates the story of how the initially poor response to the record led to the band's dissolution for a decade.

Now, about the album proper - if you're a Saint fan this is a no brainer. Stop reading and go buy this right now. It's their best album and the sound quality is phenomenal. Enough Said. If you're new to Saint, like myself - continue on...

Saint plays classic metal - galloping guitar riffs, double bass drumming, soaring vocals, and often mystical lyric imagery. Think Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. If you like that style of music, then this band is for you. Check out the solos on the instrumental "Returning" and the awesome drums on "The Path." This band has chops.

The problem, as with most classic metal, but especially so on this disc, is the lyrics. They're bad. Really bad. In the aforementioned "The Path" we hear, "I'm the false prophet in tribulation." Really? Do you honestly think the false prophet will announce himself so plainly?

Unfortunately it doesn't end there. This album tends to follow the theme set out in the title, warning people about hell and telling them to turn to Christ. I will not criticize the band's call to ministry, however, I take issue with people reducing the gospel to a banal "turn-or-burn" ideology that irresponsibly distorts any subtlety and depth in Christ's message of love to sinners. For example, "On the Street" tells the story of a destitute homeless man before shifting to the conclusion "Now is the time for you to stop running / The time is now, salvation's calling / Jesus is the way for you, that's right," all the while ignoring the various socio-economic barriers that reduce this man's standard of living and his ability to know God. It is not that simple.

Bad lyrics aside, this is a solid classic metal release. At least the lyrics are positive, unlike say, Judas Priest, who also have terrible lyrics - terrible and negative lyrics about various unsavory things. So this album serves its purpose, but those who want good music and lyrical depth need not apply.


Noah Salo