Contender – Contender

Contender
Contender
1985 (no label)
Gurnee, Illinois, USA

Leia Thomas –Vocals
Dan Thomas – Vocals
Ken Stilley – Guitars
Rick Rusico – Guitars
John Pennell – Bass
Rick Sonblud – Drums

Side 1:

  1. No Secret Mission
  2. Time Bomb
  3. Sonrise
  4. Deceiver

Side 2:

  1. Ready or Not
  2. I Feel Good
  3. Missing Link
  4. Two Directions

This is the same Contender that would later release a heavy metal demo in 1988. However, on this release, they are more rock / borderline hard rock. Some have labeled this as “pop rock,” but to my ears it has too much of an edge to be that. On this release, there are male and female lead vocals (where as the demo was all female vocals). This band actually started off as Morning Star before changing names to Contender. I’m not sure what prompted the change to heavy metal after this album, but it was a good choice. However, that is not to say that this album is bad. It’s a pretty good slice of rock, with a few slight nods to hard rock and even prog rock here and there. They just did an even better job with the metal follow-up. None of the songs on this album made it on to the next demo three years later.

Contender – Demo

Contender
Demo
1988 (no label)
Gurnee, Illinois, USA

Leia Thomas – Lead vocals
Ken Stilley – Guitars
Dan Thomas – Guitars
Mike Dippel – Bass
Dave Mobile – Drums

  1. Don’t Do It
  2. Guilty of Love
  3. Serpent Slayer
  4. Kiss Me Not

So apparently there is more than one Contender out there. This is not the male-fronted one that signed to Refuge Records and released Fighting to Win in 1990. This is a female-fronted band that apparently never got signed. Many bands approached the whole “female-fronted metal” thing as kind of a gimmick, but not this band. Imagine a bit heavier Scarlet Red or Ransom, leaning more towards traditional metal than commercial metal, and that is what you have on this demo. There are some good hooks here – this should have gotten them signed in 1988, but I guess not. What I could find about this band was: “The band was first formed under the name “Morning Star” in 1981, and later changed name to “Contender.” Primarily a Christian Pop Rock band until a later reconfiguration of members to a “Christian Metal” format.”