In-depth reviews of new releases from artists like Squad Five-O, Mortification, Circle of Dust, Bleach, Redline, Wyrick, and many others... Plus the most complete indie review section you'll find anywhere!


CIRCLE OF DUST Disengage (Flying Tart) I am so glad this record got released after all! Upon my first hearing Circle of Dust, it did not take long to make me a devoted fan of Klay's electronic wizardry. Heavy industrial and electronica are mixed with intense, honest songwriting, making this one of the best in the genre this year. The only problem I have with this disc is that, though there are 1O tracks of Disengage, and then 6 tracks of Refractorchasm, all on this disc, many of the first ten still borrow each other's lyrics, melodies, refrains, and choruses before the latter Refractorchasm tracks even start. Plus, I already heard most of this material on the Refractorchasm single/EP. But there are a few new things, like the amazing "Waste of Time," "Perelandra" (borrowed from the title of one of C.S. Lewis' space trilogy books), "Thulcandra," etc. In all, though, this disc makes a fine addition to my collection; and a nice collection of intensity for my ears.As far as the "Christian content" fans will invariably be looking for, especially after the oh so negative-sounding interview in HM #69, check out the lyrics to "Refractor." (Brian Vincent McGovern)

BLEACH Static (ForeFront) One of the label's true modern rock bands, Bleach, has increased songwriting continuity this time around, but also created is a greater opportunity to use more varied vocal styles. All the while, the band's penchant for catchy melody is maintained. The title track uses a danceable groove to convey the desire to adhere to God just as static cling sticks one's clothing together. The record could be considered good time alterno-pop, until the ballad, "Rundown Town," which reminds me a little of Plumb's "Penniless," with its mellow organ and forlorn narrative. Then the tempo kicks back into Bleach territory with the appropriately titled "Hurricane." Also cool is "Land of the Lost," for those who remember the Saturday morning show of the same name. In all, Static is a decent sophomore effort. (BVM)

SQUAD FIVE-O Fight The System (Gray Dot / Bulletproof) These guys stinkin' rule! Seeing them live is just the bomb. They are so funny live that, like Ghoti Hook, it's almost essential to see them first before you can truly appreciate their albums. This is not entirely the case (with either band), though, as these songs are good and the production is strong. While I have to admit that I only like ska when I'm in the mood for it, additive relatives to it, like Squad Five-O's "skacore" sound, is something that's easy to enjoy all the time. Sans the horns, the occasional polka-like guitar strumming and the hyped up reggae vocal meter come across as punchy and edgier than their ska purist friends. "Fight The System" and "Forever Young," with their fun vocal delivery and gang vocal hook are two of the album's high points. Other standouts include "Kids Of The World Unite" (featured on this issue's HM sampler CD), and the worshipful "All In The Name Of God." The clique-metal fun poke at power anthems intro to "Anthem Of Jimmy Rocketship" bring grins to this listener. The accents of the organ sound in the story-telling tune "California" is another winner, especially when you realize the story behind the song (see story this issue). Not only can these guys pull a laugh due to novelty and sheer fun, they pull off a credible and tight sound. (DV)

MORTIFICATION Triumph Of Mercy (Rowe Productions) What's been up with Mortification . . . no new studio album for 2 years? As if you have to ask! Most of you have read by now about Steve Rowe's immense struggle with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. For that story you can read issue #71. Anyway, Triumph Of Mercy is full of the heavy stuff we can expect from the guys. Steve's voice doesn't sound quite as guttural as some of the past efforts, but he definitely sounds healthy. The title track is the story, in its entirety, of his bout with the deadly disease. Definitely insightful, it has a classic metal feel in parts, and some very cool vocal effects mid-song. One minor disappointment, though, is found in the lyrics. While very meaningful and sincere, I've heard better from Mr. Mortification. The simplicity doesn't quite cut it here, and a little more allegory couldn't hurt. On "Welcome To The Palodrome" (a made-up Steve Rowe-ism) Keith Bannister's drum sound is very large, especially the toms. Cool wah-wah intro to the guitar solo! Lyrically it deals with our troubles being very small when it comes to our eternity. Have I mentioned the fact that the guitar solos are intense? While Michael Carlisle played an integral part of the band's pioneering in the Christian market, his guitar solos were almost non-existent. Lincoln Bowen's, however, have always been not only intriguing, but technical. The bass could use more low-end throughout the album, maybe a Doug Pinnick-type sound (distinct tones, but with a heavy bottom-end). Straight-ahead and "groovy, dude," the song "Influence" may be the highlight musically, with an awesome tom and bass breakdown mid-song, while Lincoln does a somewhat subdued solo overtop this entrancing section. "Visited By An Angel" has an incredible-but-true storyline, Steve having been personally ministered to by a messenger of God at the beginning of his cancer onslaught. The cool blue album cover depicts Steve's account of the event, and the rear tray card shows an angel "crushing hatred" while commanding us to "love others." Steve has said the album is "a cross between Envision, Scrolls, and Post Momentary," but I don't really hear the Scrolls sound. The best way to describe the album as a whole is the music of Envision, the vocals of Post Momentary, and the lyrics of Blood World. It's a must-have for every Mortification fan, and a great testimony of Steve's ordeal and faith. Check out "Welcome To The Palodrome" on this month's HM sampler cd. (Chad Olson)

REDLINE Clearer (Freedom) I always love it when a good band signs with a label that's not necessarily one of the big "in" and high-profile record labels. It's like an underdog, like the Broncos or the Jets winning the Super Bowl. Now that grunge could be classified as good ole American rock, these four guys could earn their way into the hearts of hard music fans all over the place. While some might be growing very tired of this particular sound, Redline just plain writes good songs . . . and it's hard to argue with that. The "RIYL scale" for these guys would range from the vocal-heavy and happy sounds of Weezer to the quirky bass-driven riffs of "Lithium" by Nirvana (see "Should I Never Be"), to the dirty guitar rock of Collective Soul (see "Confusion"). The key to this band's (predicted) success? Good vocals, good tones, good playing, and good songs. Did I mention that they write good songs? One of the band's strongest songs, the title track, plods along with some heavy and dull sounding riffs that remind one of Yonderboy or the old progressive hard rock band In-3D. Ever since I heard this song on the Freedom Fighters CD sampler, I anxiously waited for this full-length debut. Now I'm anxious to see if these songs transfer to live energy like they should. (Doug Van Pelt)

WYRICK Mental Floss (Rugged) The first track, "Supernatural," is basically a re-write of Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot," from its phrasing, right down to the electronic sounds used. Still, others have referred to this as Circle of Dust for Christians (because of the overt "Christian content"), and I've even heard some similarities to White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails. It's not marketed as industrial, but rather electronic modern rock, and by that count, the record is high quality, especially when played loud. When first listening to this album, I was filtering it (no pun intended) through the critical ears of "so this is being marketed as industrial, huh?" and then once I was made aware that it wasn't, I began to really appreciate the heaviness of it. Travis Wyrick's grungy vocals and heavy, heavy guitars are also reminiscent of bands like Full on the Mouth. No, this album wasn't produced by Celldweller, nor does it bear the Tooth & Nail logo, but don't rob yourself by ignoring this release. (BVM)

CHRIS TAYLOR Down Goes the Day (Rhythm House) Having heard an extremely mellow two-song demo a few months back, I didn't expect this to be something we could review here... But the energy from the first track, "God Only Knows," blew me off my presupposing haunches. A smooth, creative vibe coats this solo debut, brought to us by the brain and voice of Love Coma (RIP). And given the artistic vision of Chris Taylor, I doubt this disc's buzz will fizzle into the night. Even the tracks that begin subdued, (i.e.: "Another Witness") drift into an ethereal distortion by the chorus. Well done, and nice to hear. (BVM)

DEBORAH FATOW Submerged (Rugged) Boy, was I surprised! Like many of you, the only indication I had of Deborah Fatow's music was the track "You Are All I Need" from the HM CD Sampler from the Jan/Feb issue. This song has the vocal histrionics of an Ann Wilson meets Alanis Morrissette a la Wendy Bailey. Once I tracked Submerged all the way through, I heard a variety that spans several stylings. Tunes like "Tell Me Friend" and "My Wall" conjure up the fun but stylish sounds of a Miss Angie. "My Wall" has some cool Collective Soul-like guitars. "1722" have some most excellent guitar tones as well. "I Don't Belong" marries some cool echo vocalizing with a tension-building drum beat. "I Hear You Crying" is one of the only musical weak points, as it's a touching ballad that never quite punches the "Go!" button, though. Lyrically, "My Wall" is a song about forgiveness, and here Deborah lets loose a bit of an Alanis yodel, but lest you think this is just another Christian industry copycat, listen to the rest. Her stellar voice, at times, has the delicate real world strength of Plumb's Tiffany Arbuckle, and in "You Are All I Need" that strength is multiplied. It's also a blessing to have Nailed's Scotty Hoaglan handling guitars (and half the songwriting), as the man is quality inside and out, and the way he piles on the beef is most impressive no matter what band he's playing with. (BVM & DV)

Electronica 98 (Audio X) I thought this to be a compilation of some up & coming electronica artists, or the start of a per-year "best of the genre" type thing. Actually, it's a collection of 10 songs, all programmed and produced by Wysh Productions. Track one, "Free," features Nailed's Justin Bolli on vocals, and some of the other tracks feature samples of profound sermon excerpts by pastors like Jim Greer, Doug Seayger, and Steve Faytow. The songs seem to be built around the actual preachers' rhythms, rather than having samples thrown haphazardly into a dance mix. Pretty cool. Most all the music resembles a basic club mix, making it closer in style to traditional techno than more popular song-oriented forms of electronica, like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, or even Fold Zandura. (BVM)

FRODUS Conglomerate International (Tooth & Nail) This three-piece from Northern Virginia has delivered quite an interesting package here. Complete with artwork that conveys the theme of the album's title, the album takes on a cohesiveness that could almost be called a concept album. The frenetic cacophony these three guys create with precise chops and heavy tones keeps this album totally grooving from track to track. The shouted vocals are a tad in the back, but nicely in key. At times the well-chosen riffs sound about as commercial as Stavesacre, except for the tilting vocals. Without a single lyric that would point the "give it to me straight-up" hardcore fan, and an interview in HM #70 that totally side-stepped whether these music-makers are believers or not, Conglomerate International comes across as nothing more than a brilliant piece of dissonant, wild chordings and progressive musical phrasings about a world gone terribly wrong. Couched in a Brave New World type context, the story here seems to be one of "I want to be human! I want to think for myself!" A great work of art. Made by Christians? Maybe the record company imprint tells us yes. Maybe the obvious silence tells us no. Something cool to study and appreciate. Void of simple faith. Full of thought-provoking words and art exhibit caliber music. Listen to every day and grow closer to the Lord? Maybe, but not because of this album. (DV)

EVERYBODYDUCK Still Know How to Groove (Diadem) Everybodyduck has always been great at taking the reality of the Christian life, and discovering the fun that some refuse to see. They've also been one of those bands to whom ministry is more important than the band itself. The fun summertime pop this group of folks makes got my feet tapping, and will be quite appealing to fans of Broomtree, Dakoda Motor Co, etc. Despite some new members, the band's sound continues to be the afore mentioned fun pop quality. The songwriting is just as clever as on the first record, and the production just as clean. (BVM)

THE BLAMED ...again (Grrr recordS) "There's movement all over the place!" This opening statement of this third Blamed record pretty much describes what's happening here. The band, which made a decided turn to the heavy side with the jump from 21 to Frail, has kept on course with mind-numbing heaviness mixed with punk fury. Pit a drummer like Jim Chaffin and a guitarist with Bryan Gray's experience and you get some awfully tight playing. What else can I say? This music would make me wreck my car if I was driving and listening to it, but I'd probably still be drumming on the steering wheel after the accident with a grin on my face, screaming blatantly evangelistic lyrics at the curious witnesses. I love it! The band makes nice use of more than one riff to keep a three-minute song interesting. I don't know how an old school punk wouldn't fall in love with the passion and intensity of these 12 songs; nor do I believe a metal fanatic could resist the fat, round and crunchy tones from the heavy guitar riffs. Thanks be to God for decent production! This album is real. (DV)

DELIRIOU5? King Of Fools (Furious?/Sparrow) Usually I get in a lot of trouble reviewing a U2 album in this magazine, but I think I'll get away with it this time without much complaint. This is the U2 album fans have been waiting for ever since Bono stated that he still hadn't found what he's looking for. In all seriousness, Delirioiu5? is very very similar to the "band of the 80's" known as U2. The lead-off track here ("Sanctify") sounds a lot like the song "One," but then track two ("Deeper") takes the band into Newsboys territory. The big deal on this band is they are mega-popular in Great Britain, and not just in the small Christian music scene, either. Most of the songs are worship-like, without resorting to the chorus-overkill method that you'll hear a lot on Integrity-Hosanna albums. Nothing gets too heavy here, but Deliriou5? can lay down some dirty noise ("Promise"), and they might just do okay on modern rock radio in the USA too. Unlike many other members of the Christian media, I'm not ga-ga over this band (mostly because I love my music very hard), but I do think they're cool. I'm not serious about the "here's a Christian version of U2" comment, but I think it's funny due to the uncanny similarities. They're not going to be able to dodge the comparisons. (DV)

HUMAN Out Of The Dust (Organic) This band is cool. Produced by Billy Smiley, they've learned how to evoke emotion in their music. Many tracks, like "Read Your Mind," will pull melancholy from your ears, and the very next track, "I.O.U." will rock you against the wall with a big fat "Houston sound" low end (You know, a down-tuned bass and guitar crunching away with power). While the band breaks out with a really good sound, they almost lose the listener covering too much of the musical landscape. It's not until they reach the "no holds barred" intensity of "Bullet The Blue Sky" that you hear the band really rocking like they cared. This splendid cover is the kind of song that maybe they should have found a way to re-write 10 times over, as it displays the band at their strongest. The weird thing about this cover is it's a completely hidden bonus track that comes in a few seconds after track five ("Hand Me Down") is finished playing. Why hide your best tune? And why not print any of the legal info in the liner notes? Strange. I never liked this loud and raw song in the context of the Joshua Tree album, because it interrupted the nice little U2 anthem vibe with its loud and metallic tones. In this context, it feels a lot more natural. The band does perform this tune with a lot more gusto, however, live on stage than they pulled off here. Overall, I'd think most fans of bands like Curious Fools, Audio Adrenaline, or even the dirty guitar production of Bush would dig Human. I know I do, but until they can channel their strengths into ten consistent songs, I'll just be a casual fan and not a "tape stuck in the car for months" fan. (DV)

Various Freedom Fighters (Freedom) This neat compilation, encompassing the label's entire roster, starts with Hokus Pick's snappy ska song "I'm So Happy." Woke me right up, I tell ya! Included on the disc are the classic songs by The Kry, "I know Everything About You," "Blind Man," and " Paradise." I also like Redline's brand new "Clearer" and Hokus Pick's "Learn to Laugh" and "Turn Around in Circles." Sorta reminds me what an underrated band Hokus Pick is. Nice job. as a whole. (BVM)

GLENN KAISER You Made the Difference in Me (Grrr recordS) This man has always had the perfect voice for blues -- full of grit, passion, and intense devotion to conveying the emotional reality of the subject matter. That's one thing that's made Resurrection Band so appealing over the years. Whether you include that band in considering Kaiser's incredibly extensive discography or not, through it all, his passion is matched perhaps only by those with whom he has worked (Darrell Mansfield, etc.). You Made the Difference in Me serves to continue this legacy of intensity, with songs that relate a passion for a closeness with the Savior. Different types of blues come from all over -- Memphis, Detroit, St. Louis, and of course, Chicago. Here, Kaiser melds the best of his personal influences, those being Detroit, Memphis, and Chicago, and receives instrumental backing by a myriad of R&B performers, as well as Resurrection Band guitarist Stu Heiss. Some songs ("Diggin' My Own Grave") even nod back to commercial early 80's blues/rock, while others lean on the old traditions of Motown. Even though I, personally, would rather listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan any day, this is a truly textured record that should appeal to fans of traditional blues. (BVM)

THIS TRAIN Mimes of the Old West (Organic) As you know from hearing the single "We're Getting Nowhere (Fast)" on last issue's HM sampler CD, these guys do not take themselves seriously. This anti-rock-star-ism mentality is very attractive to the listener who wants nothing more than cool music. Many times, when an artist can just relax and have fun, some of the best music is made. And I like this stuff! This rootsy, easy going pop/rockabilly/modern rock hybrid is full of real life lyrics and clean, unassuming guitar tones. It was also a treat to hear Ashley Cleveland's duet vocal on "Who's Stopping You" and Rich Mullins' voice on "A Million Years." (Didja know band member Mark Robertson is a Ragamuffin?) Check out the awesome Stray Cats-like rockabilly on "Seafoam Green." Also included is the Hank Williams Sr. classic "I Saw the Light." The irony is that this fun and simple rock & roll may just pull these guys up the charts. (BVM)

HONEY Lost on You (Sublime) Here, in the band's sophomore effort, they are aided by the diverse production talents of Eric Campuzano and Wayne Everett (Prayer Chain/Starflyer), as well as Dan Haseltine and Steve Mason (Jars of Clay). Here, the band breathes out a fresh amalgamation of soothing, ethereal sounds, somewhat akin to any number of indie rock bands. Beats, for the most part, are mellow, and the smooth vocals and guitars cleverly slither around the lobes. (BVM)

SAVIOUR MACHINE Legend Part II (Massacre) Okay, so HM Magazine sometimes covers bands before other mags will touch them... So what! That's just our job. We were glad to give this band coverage -- even after the controversy that surrounded their presentation and tour way back in '93. We were honored to have them play our stage last year. But, just like any normal music fan out there, there's a tendency to really like those groups and sounds that are underground and a well-kept secret. Once it becomes above-ground and mainstream, you dig below and look around for something else. Even before Saviour Machine completed its second part of the Legend trilogy, this writer finds himself wanting to find something wrong with the band. I feel the momentum of the Saviour Machine bandwagon gaining speed, and I want to jump off before I'm caught up in the mainstream like a violent riptide at Huntington Beach. As much as I want to dislike this album, though, I cannot help myself from applauding the carefully-placed melodies, the complimenting sounds of a varied and sometimes classical music palette. It's too good to trash. One thing I can say, though, is that this album takes you on a journey. It just takes a long time to get there. This is a CD -- a listening experience -- that you want to read the 20-page CD booklet from cover to cover, then take under the headphones in a dark room. You must do this long before you take it out in the car stereo and expect to get much out of it. This album requires an investment beyond the $15 to $20 it takes to get it home. It requires patience and the type of concentration that a classical student is used to. The MTV sound-byte generation doesn't have a hit single to latch onto, nor a single rhyming verse; just an image -- a pale, stark image of Eric Clayton. With lots of spoken narration interspersed throughout, the 79 minutes and 29 seconds keep you either enthralled or bored out of your mind. The music is anything but boring, however, just epic. The production is flawless. Even a fan of the revered Pink Floyd would be hard pressed to find guitar riffs as cool as the ones in "The False Prophet." If you want a real treat, listen to Legend Part I first, and follow it with Part II in the same sitting. It'll take over two and a half hours, but you'll be able to hear and recognize repeating themes and riffs, like the hypnotic guitar chimes found on "Antichrist I" that find themselves fittingly repeated in "Mark Of The Beast." Remarkable. For many, "finally a Christian produces something timeless again!" (DV)

ULTIMATUM Puppet Of Destruction (Rowe Productions) "Never judge a book by its cover." What a cliche! Well, this album's packaging is graphically pleasing to the eye, but . . . The meaning behind that cliche insinuates that the music inside must not be as good. But let's concentrate on the outside first. While it is pleasing to the eye, the packaging emits a rip-off warning signal. First of all, the front cover depicting a jester/skeleton/puppet is reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson's latest cd. Second thing of notice are the eerie similarities of the back cover to that of Plastic Planet by g//z/r (Geezer), right down to the way the track numbers are arranged and laid out. Next, we have the band members' x-rays inside the leaflet, not much unlike the cover of Smash by Offspring. Are all of these unoriginal trappings merely coincidence? I doubt it. "But, hey! Is there music on this disc?" Oh, yeah. The vocals kind of make you cringe, like someone running their fingers down a chalkboard. The production is nice and clean, everything is mixed well, and the song structures are decent while not necessarily unique. The music itself is in the Iron Maiden/Sacred Warrior/'80's metal vein. The beginning guitar riff on "Crosshope" sounds an awful lot like the opening riff on Mortification's "Dark Allusions," the last song on their Blood World CD. Opener "Never" addresses selling out (hmm . . . have you ever heard of any other artists touching on this subject? Me, too!) It also includes a classic metal guitar solo (hmm . . . have you ever heard any other solos like this? Me, too!) The snare sound throughout is rather tinny, but the bass drums "pump up the jams." A great example of this snare sound can be heard at the end of album closer "Charged/Power", with its played-in-a-tin-box racket. The bass is distinct in the mix, and has a decent low-end. The guitars are crunchy-stuff. So, there are a few positives in an otherwise bleak review. The moral of the story is that, if I had to, I would purchase the band's first record, Symphonic Extremities, instead of this one. It just doesn't quite hold up to the standards set by today's metal monsters: Pantera, Tourniquet, or Metallica. For a taste of what I mean, check out issue 71's HM sampler cd. (CO)

LLOYD Thoughts From a Driveway (Organic) A far cry from the cheese disco, Daryl Youngblood's new band Lloyd has some realness to it, and some very cool sounds akin to Matchbox 20, while steering clear of simply being a cheap copy of some secular group. There are some unexpected, even unpredictable melody trails, and lyrics. Among the more notable tracks are "Human," which has a very off-time guitar groove, and "Mr. Warner," a song to a certain shock rocker. Vigorous rock guitar surrounds lines like, "If you are the devil, make me disappear..." "Mary Tyler Moore" is also a cool song, discussing the happy front that people on TV and in the public eye have in place. Daryl's always had that cool rock & roll voice and songwriting ability that made you wonder why he was in a band like Imagine This. Well, I think this works much better. (BVM)

PROJECT 86 (Tooth & Nail) Following in the tradition of bands like POD, EDL, etc., Project 86 comes to the rap-core table with its very own brand of the style. Instead of just ripping off its contemporaries, the band takes the passion and intensity to a unique level, while it would still be tough, in my opinion, to match that of either of those other bands. Beats are usually relaxed, heavy, plodding grooves, and the cryptic, downtuned guitar tones fit the mood. Vocal stylings are of the typical rap variety, although there are some beautiful moments where some spoken word, not unlike Mark Salomon, comes along. Given these facts, the mound of passion on this disc will be no surprise. (BVM)

SKILLET Hey You, I Love Your Soul (Ardent/ForeFront) What's this? Keyboards? Drum loops? Sure enough, this ministry-oriented threesome has taken a dip in the electronica pool. Some songs, like "Deeper," draw the band into Eric Champion territory, but others, like "Dive Over In," slap a label on the band more befitting of bands as varied as Circle of Dust and Audio Adrenaline. The jump seems to be a good thing, because the record shows no signs of poserdom. In fact, the boys sound as comfortable here, if not more, than on their debut, with just as much passion and rawness. And leave it to those techno-gurus at Ardent to put a ton of cool enhanced stuff on here. (BVM)

SCATERD FEW Grandmother's Spaceship (Jackson / Rubio) When I heard that this release was hyped to be of the caliber of Sin Disease... And considering we were dealing with a new behind vocalist Allan Aguirre, I was skeptical and ready to nail the hypsters to the wall. But, being more a fan of good music than some sort of cosmic musical judge, I was happy to find some brilliant wailings supported by capable playing. Scaterd Few shoots . . . and scores! I would rather pull Grandmother's Spaceship and Sin Disease off the CD shelf for personal airplay over Jawboneofanass and Out Of The Attic any day! In my opinion, this is Allan's strongest material since 1991. As long as the sonics sound better than this Normal Bias pre-release I was sent, we have one hot punk album here. (DV)

VIVA VOCE Hooray for Now (Cadence) I'm sure glad this CD is finally out. This kind of heavy modern rock (tough guitars, eye-opening melodies, and strong, but delicate female vocals) continues to be popular among those who are in touch with, and appreciate, today's music scene. The band has definitely progressed since you heard their rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," that they recorded for the very first HM sampler comp. Still here are the gutsy guitar grooves and feather soft vocals of Anita Robinson, as well as her husband (Kevin)'s, one-man rhythm section. I guess the closest stylistic comparison to something I've already heard would be Miss Angie. (BVM)

Ska '98 (Audio-X) Packaged like the first album to blatantly jump on the ska wagon, this album is immediately under some intense scrutiny. Are the sounds authentic? Is it believable? How does it stack up to Supertones, FIF, and The Insyderz? With a slick-pop, and sometimes rockabilly approach to the song writing, the horns take center stage often, adding the authenticity it needs. The players here, like the Electronica '98 album, are members of other bands and/or friends of some of the "Knoxville Krew," like Nailed's Scottie Hoaglan and Travis Wyrick. Hats off to them for some coming up with some good song ideas. Some of the extended beats (as in the song "People Fall") stretch the melody a little thin, but most often the important lead vocals make listening enjoyable. Overall, there a little bit less punk sensibilities to make some serious competition with the "big three" signed Christian ska bands, but still cool enough to be an essential listen for ska-starving consumers. (DV)

Various WWJD (The Video) (ForeFront) Here's the video follow-up to ForeFront's WWJD compilation CD -- yet another WWJD product to sell to the bracelet-wearing masses. Okay, okay, I'll admit that this is actually a product worth buying, but only if you're a fan of the artists featured here. Besides rockin' videos by The Supertones, Big Tent Revival, Considering Lily, and Audio Adrenaline, there are also some decent videos by Iona, Geoff Moore & the Distance, dc Talk, and others. Between almost every video, the viewer reads a scenario and is compelled to make a decision, like, "Tim is late for basketball practice, but on the way to the gym, he sees a guy with a flat tire. He knows that if he stops to help, he'll be late, and won't be able to play in the big game. What would you do?" and of course, "What would Jesus do?" And amid the commercialism, I again reiterate, don't forget the real meaning. Ask yourself the famous question in every situation constantly. (BVM)

FULL ON THE MOUTH Collide (Pioneer) I don't know if electronic pop would be the term here, because even though there are plenty of programmed sounds accompanying the catchy melodies, the sounds of this band seem to transcend the word "pop." And I wouldn't call it industrial, as the dark sensibilities here lean away from the sinister. But it's not simply run-of-the-mill electronica, because the guitar sounds here are incredibly huge. Collide is one great electronic rock & roll record; perhaps a cleaner sounding Klank, minus the despondent metal edge. Formerly known as Lost Tribe, a pioneering grunge band (before grunge exploded), Full On The Mouth has found a comfortable home in this genre. Having a nice production budget helps, as sonic quality is high, from the "dirtied up" programming to the beefy guitars and vocals, making for a very enjoyable listen. It also doesn't hurt to have Blumpy (who has worked with Filter, Henry Rollins, etc.) produce the project either. Most of the drums are programmed, but the clean, tight drumming of guest musician Jon Knox (Whiteheart, Adam Again) also makes an appearance. Lyrically, it's nearly impossible to know where the band hangs out spiritually, as they could suggest an appreciation for anything from a girl to a memory to a Toyota. (BVM )

ELI Things I Prayed For (ForeFront) Some of you who heard the Paul Falzone record on Rugged two years ago will take one listen to Eli's project and proclaim, "This guy sounds dangerously similar to Falzone!" Well, that's because the men are one in the same. Eli, as he's now called, has just released his first record for ForeFront, and like the self-titled debut, it's full of the impassioned voice and thoughtful, personal lyrics that made him one of the favorites around the HM office. "The Lumber Song" is probably the most energetic, with an electric guitar here and there, accompanied by an Irish penny whistle and piano, making it resemble a cross between The Electrics and something from Rich Mullins' Liturgy... album. The song is also notable, as its message is quite clear. Each good work that an individual does during life is compared to a small shipment of lumber to Heaven. When the person eventually gets there, he finds that his "mansion" is but a shack. St. Peter then explains, "That's all the lumber you sent." Also included is the Cat Stevens version of the hymn "Morning Has Broken." Sure, nothing on here is real hard, but we figured most hard music fans will appreciate Eli's intense passion, along with the fact that David Zaffiro produced the record. (BVM)

ELDER Plagues and Woes (Bulletproof) A killer metal lead erupts from the otherwise funky tribal modern rock of the first track "Sugar Medicine." The CD continues with the mostly down-tuned guitar energy and competent vocals -- many times not unlike Allan Aguirre's. Also cool is the continuous auxiliary percussion: congas, bells, and more congas, which give the record more of an alive feel next to its plodding drums and all around foreboding texture. (BVM )

DALE THOMPSON & THE KENTUCKY CADILLACS Testimony(Organic) The lead singer of Bride has done it again, with his second blues record. Utilizing some of Louisville's finest blues and jazz musicians, Dale himself again takes on a now trademark Tom Waits/Robert Plant vocal style. The result is a credible project, breathing a breath of fresh air into the genre of contemporary blues. A tune or two here ("Hand Me Down Religion") feature a soulful Gospel choir, while others are highlighted by a clean blues guitar. "Business As Usual" even has some smart rockabilly guitar licks to accompany its quick shuffle. And then there are the horns... Tight tenor and baritone saxes, trombones, and trumpets sound incredible next to the abundant Hammond organ. Guitar fans will also like "Road Less Traveled." Although I do like some of the songwriting on Dale's Religious Overtones record a little better, this one's also a truly remarkable project. (BVM)

CROOKED SMILE A Million Things to Say (Bulletproof) With a healthy variety of sounds, Crooked Smile's latest should impress quite a few fans of not-so-heavy modern rock. All the guitars on here have such great sounds on them... I just wish the music was heavy enough to match them. Emotional lyrics artistically pour out somewhat deep spiritual longings, but there's not a lot of musical substance here to make the project stand out among the rest. (BVM)

BUMBLEPUPPY An Evening at the Feelies (Bulletproof) With a partiality toward the ethereal, and some nice orchestrations, Bumblepuppy also reels in some respectable guitar work. And lyrics are generally artistic, if not completely indecipherable, and each sonic element is crystal clear. Jared Siebert's whispery vocals seem to invite the listener to sit back, relax, and think. What I like best is the semi-unique instrumentation. While nothing jumps up and bites me, still, there is something dreamily appealing about this tenuous modern rock. (BVM)

BON VOYAGE (BEC) For anyone who likes Starflyer 59's more upbeat songs, imagine putting a sugary sweet female voice in it, and you'll have a fairly good idea of the sound here. Never one to follow trends, Jason Martin, along with wife Julie, have put together one of the nicer female fronted pop records yet this year -- without sounding like most other so-called girlie-pop bands, but not as dark and atmospheric as Starflyer. Those who've heard Julie's singing with Havalina will not be surprised, and those who know SF59, as well as bands like Morella's Forest, will be quite intrigued. The fact that this was recorded at Gene Eugene's Green Room ensures that the sonics are of the highest quality, and his keyboards enhance the record, like so many others he's piloted. (BVM)

BIG TENT REVIVAL Amplifier (Ardent/ForeFront) While the neatly trimmed BGV's, this record reminds me of the band's Southern pop past, this record, appropriately titled Amplifier, displays a harder side to the music of BTR. Imagine the band in recent years, with hands and faces pressed against the classroom window, longing to get out and play in the sun; longing to rock. Though the complete package stays on the safer side of the playground, school is certainly out. Steve Wiggins' voice can take on an edge when he wants it to, making me wish he'd done this all along. Just listen to "Real Thing," which is heavier than anything you've ever heard from this band. Also enjoyable is "Rivalry," which confronts some fans' promoting a competitive attitude between the individual ministries of Christian bands. The lyrics state, "Call it crazy, call it pride. I like to think we're on the same side." (BVM)

THE HALO FRIENDLIES (Jackson Rubio) While some of this can take on the timbre of The Breeders or even Morella's Forest, other moments remind one of The Go-Go's. Still, some parts even bring to mind a smoother Courtney Love vocal. I especially liked the rockabilly/spy music vibe of "Look Around." There's a healthy bit of variety, as "Flake-O (on My Scalp-O)" is quite an upbeat pop tune, "Sunrise Surprise" is a dance mix, and "Cry of Job" is more of a droning Starflyer-like song. "New Wave" is self-explanatory, as it pays tribute to that era of musicdom. Many lyrics discuss relationships, some bitterly, and some even bordering on obsessive. For example, the spry punk rock song "Love Sick" admits, "I follow you and I hide in the shadows when I see you with another girl..." and then implores, "Give me just one reason why you're avoiding me right now..." Uh, I'll give you a reason: You give me the creeps. The song, like all the others, is pretty cool, actually. Everything on this self-titled debut is played fairly well, but instrumental production could be better. (BVM)

THE HUNTINGTONS High School Rock (Tooth & Nail) This new record is a non-stop punk rock adventure, and the exceptional talent of the band is complimented once again by Mass Giorgini's tremendous production talents. Included are some great songs, all full of the band's stand-out characteristics: the fast, tight (albeit slightly monotonous) drums and blazing, Ramones-influenced guitar and vocals. I especially liked the song, "1985," which contains actual samples from Back to the Future. Also notable is "Jeannie Hates the Ramones," as anyone's disdain for that band would certainly spark concern in the songwriting minds of the Huntingtons. "Avi is a Vampire" is a cool song, which ends with a nifty rock & roll instrumental part, which will make you want to hit "play" again. (BVM)

INSYDERZ Skalleluia! (Squint) The album for which all in the Christian ska scene have patiently waited is finally here. With this kind of music, energy is the word, and rarely have I heard so much. "Awesome God" is well done with a few altered lyrics, but keeps the chorus intact. Toward the end of the tune, it takes on a similarity to the classic Unashamed version. The medley of "Jesus, Name Above All Names" and "More Precious than Silver" contrasts modern ska with 50's du-wop, while maintaining a decent continuity via similar chord progressions. Metal fans will either love or hate "Joy," which takes some cool, messy metal guitar and puts it in context of the band's token genre. The combination is, I suppose, purposefully comical, yet tastefully done. All songs are, of course, profoundly different than your church's worship band would play, but come Sunday, you'll be wanting them to try these songs the Insyderz way. This project must have been a blast to record, and edifying at the same time. (BVM)

JOHNNY RESPECT Blue Collar Moxy (Bulletproof) With more than just a simple three-chord quiver, the band draws on a few additional influences than its punk rock contemporaries. There are even a few rockabilly sounding guitars making an appearance here, especially on the Stray Cats cover "Rock This Town." I understand they do more of that live, so I can't wait. Cool also are the way the boys trade and share vocal duties, one always backing up the other with well harmonized BGV's. Put that with some fast beats and decent songwriting, and there's quite a pile of potential. (BVM)

KOSMOS EXPRESS Simulcast (Sublime) Goraieb and the boys are back with a follow-up to Now. One could call this new record intense guitar pop, with a likeness to bands like the Foo Fighters, but imagine what would happen if Gene Eugene and Terry Taylor had anything to do with it (which they did). You've got the opportunity to treat yourself to a very high quality record. Some parts also remind me a little of Common Children in the areas of passion and melody-conscious songwriting. While you may think "The Force" refers to some new age lingo of which Luke Skywalker became conscious back in '78, it actually refers to our Father in Heaven, and the trip that is our relationship with Him, which the lyrics proclaim, "takes the cake," and "makes the world a better place." And is there a song that sounds like the Beatles? "On Top of the World," with its clean melody, vocals backed up in fab four fashion, could be the winner, but the chorus of "Emotional" and the cello in "The Way" stir memories as well. Kosmos Express seems to be aware of the need for relevant music in the Christian scene, as this project is one of the best I've reviewed in quite a while. (BVM)

MAYFAIR LAUNDRY Scrub (Organic) From the very first track, a ska vibe protrudes from this CD, though I wouldn't necessarily say Mayfair Laundry has jumped on the ska wagon. Scrub is packed so full of hooks & catchy melodies, I have no choice but to label it pop. However, Frank Sandoval's gently recurring rock guitar tears away any hint of commercial cheesiness, and the strong voice of Shannon Woolner well suits the afore mentioned melodies and the clever, tongue-tying lyrics in songs like "Lovely Feet." Listen to "Bridge" and see if you feel the same way about homelessness afterward. (BVM)

PEP SQUAD No Doy! (BEC) One of my favorite indies of '96, pep Squad has returned, this time on BEC, with a project that rises far above the quality of their autonomous CD. Producers Chris Colbert and Bob Wohler seem to have aided, or brought out, a more mature sound, as the entire record has a decidedly darker feel. Even more happy-go-lucky songs like "Bug-Nug" have been semi-cloaked with a more serious feel, working in conjunction with the bounciness to make a very cool, unique sound, leaving behind the majority of the whimsical bubble gum. But this is still a fun record. "Jamie's Kisses" has a chorus that will not leave my head, as do the repetitive "Open" and "Bored Out of My Gourd." I can't wait to see Pep Squad do their business at this year's Tom. (BVM)

PETRA God Fixation (Word) These guys just keep on going... Having all but lost credibility with much of generation X when the guitars creep to the back and ballads take center stage, Petra has marched on. There are a few rockers here, but pale in comparison to the band's hard rock glory days of On Fire. Nowadays, Petra seems to remain Christian rock for kids whose parents don't let 'em listen to rock & roll. Guitars here, for the most part, have safe tones, and John Schlitt's vocals reach his famed passion in just a few songs. Poised to reach the already churched, or rather, the longtime Petra fan, a few tracks ("A Matter of Time," "Set For Life," etc.) are of note, primarily for the quality guitar and bass tones, and a few songs show something different for the band in that lyrical direction takes on more of a first person story format ("Falling Up," "St. Augustine's Pears"), with a nice absence of clichés. Still, nothing groundbreaking is heard. While some may receive encouragement from the content, many a learned listener will hear a typical confirmational drivel that soaks most of Christian radio... Yet, the title typifies exactly what the band has been preaching for the past 25 years, which is to further one's relationship with God as much as possible, and to be completely "on fire," as it were. (BVM)

VARIOUS Rock of the 80's (Star Song) "When rock was king..." We've heard that phrase around here a few times in recent years. Well, this disc showcases songs recorded by prominent Christian rock bands in the 80's -- and bands who were, at one time, considered rock. You can't go wrong making the timeless "Invitation," from Whiteheart's Freedom album, the first track. Then comes the rowdy Rez classic "Love Comes Down," and after that, Allies' rousing arena rocker "Devil is a Liar." Hair metal fans will be pleased to know that songs by Stryper ("Always There for You"), Shout ("Showdown"), and Whitecross ("Enough is Enough") are included. Also included are Petra's classic battle cry, "This Means War," The 77's groovy "Mercy Mercy," DeGarmo & Key's controversial "Six, Six, Six," and Da's ahead-of-its-time "Darn Floor-Big Bite." Rock of the 80's is not quite a definitive history lesson (that would take a four disc box set), but serves well to get a taste of this resurgent decade. (BVM)

SKYPARK Am I Pretty? (Word) Gritty, yet soulful vocals stand tall amid beautifully messy guitars, reminding me a little of King's X, among others, but with a little more tonal variety on the strings. The vocals display a Motown quality, not unlike a modern rock James Brown (specifically in "Here Come the Bugs"). "Starbucks® Girl," a cute little ditty about a crush on an employee of the cafe, sticks out as the album's lighthearted song, as the lyrics ponder, "this could be love, or maybe it's just really good coffee... No one makes a tall mint latté quite like you." This is a pretty decent effort, written, played, and produced well, though not a ton different than the norm. (BVM)

And now for the indies...

DUST EATER DOGS These guys rock hardcore. Sometimes getting a lift out of the energy a band emits is a great thing. This is what happened here while listening to this band during deadline. Their fury and nice, tight and crunchy guitar tones are impressive. With the funny artwork, the lift they gave me, and their hardcore punk approach to groove rock cause me to not try very hard to find nit-picky things to criticize them over. If I did dig hard, though, I don't think I'd find much. These guys rule. They do their country of Finland proud. For ordering info, write: PO Box 903, 20101 Turku, Finland; or surf their site at http://bride.pp.utu.fi/~ded (Doug Van Pelt)

TRAVAIL You like hardcore like I do? Get this CD. With a cool name like Travail, you've already got a big clue that they're not cheese. (I mean, how many cool bands have cheesy names? Now, how many cheesy bands have cool names? See what I mean?) Hard, nail-biting guitars slam away cool groove riffs, while the rhythm section keeps it tight and fast. Vocals? Sounds like Matt means what he says when he cries, "Soon this body of mine will be dead . . . no more tears or fists across my head" (in "Weakling"); and "I love my God, because of Him, my soul will rise." We were so stoked when this band said they wanted to be on the HM sampler CD this issue, that we put them at track #1 so everyone could hear them first (the track "Lies"). To order, send $12 postpaid (unless you're overseas, then add another $4) to: Poor Boy Records, PO Box 16777, Ft Worth TX 76162-0777 (DV)

AUNT BETTYS What? I thought these guys were signed?! Guess what? They got dropped! They're history! Here's a collection of over a dozen demos from the planned-but-never-realized second album, plus a few live songs. You get a slightly re-worked version of this writer's favorite Mike Knott song of all time -- "Rock Stars On H" (No, it's not an endorsement of heroin, but just the opposite); and, best of all, here's an Aunt Bettys record with no cuss words! It's funny that the author of a song called "Not A Cussword" would ever receive such an announcement, but here's an record that we can safely say RIYL (means "recommended if you like") Aunt Bettys! For ordering info, write: Marathon Records, PO Box 1222, El Segundo CA 90245-6222 (DV)

THE ISRAELITES Here's the latest from one of Christian music's first ska bands. Being a moron when it comes to the underground, I hadn't even heard of these folks until about two years ago. But in fact, they've been going strong for quite a while just above the underground -- and they don't seem to be put off that nobody in mainstream Christian music has noticed them until now. My boss predicts The Israelites to be the next big ska band, and I'd say that after years of paying dues, they deserve it. This isn't the third wave rafter-swingin' energy you'd hear from bands like Five Iron, but rather, a mellow, more traditional form of reggae-influenced ska. Cool, swingy guitar tones chinka-chinka back and forth, and the rich bari sax and Hammond organ groove by (even grabbing the opportunity to play "Heart & Soul" during the bridge of "I Don't Know Why"). For ordering info, write: PO Box 9132, Whittier CA 90608 (Brian Vincent McGovern)

Sparkler, Volume One This project is a cool compilation featuring such bands as Squad Five-O, Prophecy, Fold Zandura, The Israelites, Satellite Circle, Exeter Flud, Bloomsday, Soulfood 76, and Cloud2Ground, among others. Most notable are all the rare demos that make an appearance on this disc. The first track is "Into You," by Simple, which is Tim Taber singing with his buddies Fold Zandura. Then there's Fold Zan's "Samovar," and Poor Old Lu's bouncy, yet ethereal demo, "It's Simple to Me." Bloomsday's "Blush" is practically a classic among the Velvet Blue fan base, and understandably so. The band knows how to carry a mood. The Squad Five-O track is a rough sounding demo of the forceful "United We Stand," and the Sometime Sunday contribution is a live version of "She." There's stuff on here for just about any type of modern rock fan, and all proceeds go to a good cause (a homeless shelter called the Judeo Christian Outreach Center). For ordering info, write: Spark Recordings, 3736 Silina Dr, Virginia Beach VA 23452 (BVM)

SPEAKING OF SARAH With a similar style, at times, to a cleaner, happier version of Garbage, and at other times, a funkier Grammatrain or Considering Lily, this Aussie foursome has some great ability. Produced by Al Dowthwaite (drummer of the great, but little known band Surprise), all sonics are quality, right down to the mass of distortion coating most of the tracks. And Diana Blythe's vocals are like cotton candy to my ears. For info, write: c/o Murray Blythe, 7 Cadac Place, Schofields NSW, Australia 2765 (BVM)

RUBEN V In the tradition of Texas blues greats like Stevie Ray Vaughan, this record by San Antonio's Ruben V is plum full of twitchin' guitar, funk-ridden bass lines, and extremely soulful singing, from Ruben's own vocal to the back up choir on the first track, "Life Ain't Supposed to Be." Before I knew it, my foot was spontaneously jumping up and down. Unfortunately, unlike the very idea of blues, most of the disc is quite upbeat and happy. Ah well... I still enjoyed this credible music when I saw him in a smoky little club, just as I'm enjoying it now. For info, write: 2313 Lockhill Selma, Box 187, San Antonio TX 78230 (BVM)

FOREVERTREE Full of groove, this Canadian hard rock foursome will be hard to match on intensity, with deftly played guitars and strong as oak vocals. This 13-song disc belies the band's indie status from superior production, and superior packaging. For info, write: Mega Storm Records, 65 Mississauga Rd North, Ste 1, Mississiauga ON Canada L5H 2H9 (BVM)

MESSENGERS OF LOVE Whoa... with a name like that, I didn't expect such a big sound. Boom -- the energetic guitar jumped out and hit me in the face. The Extreme-like rock band is one you'll want to watch out for in the future. For info, contact Andrew Albert at: 972-931-4299 (BVM)

NOHBDY'S HEROES I remember these guys! They had a neato blend of modern and pop punk... Well, they actually have a decidedly passion-filled modern rock sound, and their lyrics are as Christ-centered as ever. Just about all the bumps have been smoothed out, via cool songwriting, and decent musicianship, which all compliment meaning-conscious vocals. They've also included a version of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," which I think may be the same version as on their last tape. To order this six-song project (entitled Newmen), send $8 to: 6828 Bluegrass, Portage MI 49024 (BVM)

FAILSAFE A compilation of the band's demos from the past two years, this CD is full of the metal/hardcore hybrid you hear from bands like Zao & Traning for Utopia. Along with the band's decidedly vegan beliefs (I guess they forgot about Acts 10:11-13), they also maneuver voice and instruments to create some of the most harsh, independent hardcore I've heard in a while. Typical? Yeah... Intense and extremely heavy? That too, but the hardcore kids'll dig it. For info, write: c/o Leo Ashline, 2469 55th Terr SW, Unit A, Naples FL 34116 (BVM)

NO LONGER MUSIC This enhanced CD, entitled Passion (An Act Of), is an extensive rock opera, generally meant to be performed live, and judging from the photos on the packaging, and the movie files on the CD, it looks like quite a project. All choreography was done by Dorinda Nelson, who danced with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Charlie Chaplin. Calling something "post-grunge/alternative" can mean just about anything. While the music here is basically modern hard rock, complete with a variety of distortion-filled guitar sounds and hard rock vocals, the attitude sometimes takes on a punk-like vibe, and I'd bet that Saviour Machine fans will be drawn to the high quality blend of rock music in a theatrical setting. For more info, write: Steiger International, PO Box 1186, Northamption MA 01061 (BVM)

Shhh, Volume One Ahh, indie punk rock compilations... featuring the kinds of bands that don't care about the money, don't have web pages (well, some do), and don't really care what you think of them. They just like to play. Well, it's commendable of Cleetus Adrian and Quietboy Recordings to put this out, and to do it for only five bucks for the consumer. Featured are bands like the constantly touring Maintenance Man, melodic rockers Cleaners, punk band APB, and Not for the Crowd (who adds some unexpected swing to the punk stew). To order, send $5 to : Quietboy Recordings, 9109 Windrush, #618, Forth Worth TX 76116. (BVM)

BROKEN CHAIN This three-song CD has some cool modern rock with generally quick beats and clear production. And "Forgiveness" is a nice worshipful ballad. For ordering info, call: 630-837-4679 (BVM)

COMPLEX ZERO One heavy pile o' guitar fuzz pops out of the speakers upon listening to this one. You could almost say this is Plankeye meets Joe Christmas, but with bigger, more energetic guitar sounds. There's also a really cool punk-swing song, complete with kazoo solo. The record's available from ClaraHope Recordings, so send $7 to: 1201 12 Ave N, Fargo ND 58102 (BVM)

CARBON These boys surprised me. Their sound isn't a carbon copy, but rather, the name refers to a desired imitation of Christ. "Christmas and Easter" is a clever indictment of those who think that church attendance on holidays will "stamp my ticket for another year's grace." Music is pretty much organic rock, with the occasional 70's guitar tone falling over some semi-acoustic pop. "Stone" is the hard rocker here, nearly hinting at modern metal, complete with an extended guitar lead. For ordering info, write: 1142 Plantation Ct, Jackson MS 39211 (BVM)

CYBERSHADOW Jess Macintyre's latest is full of messages. "Third World" is probably one of the more powerful commentaries on our society I've heard, though not as quite relevant to American culture as he wants it to be. "Civilian Tank Dept." seems to be a bit tiresome, both musically and lyrically. This project, titled The Birth of Future, has plenty of the usual electronic noises and distorted vocals, but also some considerably insightful cultural appraisals as well. For info, write: Flaming Fish, 9 Koidern Ave, Whitehorse Yukon Y1A 3N7, Canada (BVM)

MIND FAILURE Metal fans, brace yourselves. Heavier and tighter than most any band you'll hear nowadays, Mind Failure's dark thrash metal comes across loud & clear, laying down a low, dark, solid groove. Oh, did I mention they're heavy? To order, send $15.25 to Rugged Cross Connections, PO Box 206, Independence MO 64055 (BVM)

UNDERSTATEMENT This Canadian compilation begins with the big guitars and grunge vocals of Bigtime Nobody, and then continues with a bouncy modern rock band called Coincidence?. Granite Island is an interesting, young, distortion-filled rock band who could have a future, and L of 8 has a cool takes on the gritty melodic punk sound, with a profound song called "Know Me." Covering more of the punk rock territory are the able songs of Shambles. The award for best song title on the album easily goes to Ainsley Friesen, with "I Lost My Etch-a-Sketch the Day I Met You." For ordering info, write: Festering Productions, 763 13th St, Brandon MB R7A 4R6 (BVM)

TIMESCAPE Like Swedish art metal, in the technical vein of Dream Theater, et al? Timescape, while perhaps a bit heavier, is tightly complex and cleanly-produced, with skilled vocals and plenty of off-time rhythms. But do they have the musical proficiency to pull it off? Certainly. To order this import, send $27.25 to Rugged Cross Connections, PO Box 206, Independence MO 64055 (BVM)

COUGH One of my top picks this issue. Here's some modern rock with purposeful, appealing guitars, and reality-drenched vocals. Even a few downtuned metal moments. Few bands can be Plankeye one minute and Metallica the next. All lyrics are glorifying to God, and most are somewhat evangelical, as this band is very ministry-minded. For ordering info, write: c/o John Ivo Wiens, 712 Oakland Ave, Winnipeg Manitoba R2G 0C1 Canada (BVM)

PARAGON NULL This industrial outfit can certainly be described as heavy. With a few samples here and there, the predominant force is the guitar, somewhat reminiscent of Klank, but with less melody and a few contemplative textures. For info, write: 7802 East 170th St, Belton MO 64012 (BVM)

TABLES OF STONE In the vein of Collective Soul, this Canadian band has garnered respect from all over. "Illogical" sounds like a funky PFR or Jars of Clay ballad, but much of the CD is blessed by decent pop/rock guitar. To order, send $15(US) to: PO Box 36067, 1318 Wellington St, Ottawa Ontario K1Y 4V3 Canada (BVM)

SOLOMON'S PORCH For fans of bands like the Israelites, and other classic sounding genre-mixing bands, Solomon's Porch comes across quite clearly. Utilizing two saxophones, and some heartfelt belting out of God's truths, the band is sure to please even the discriminating fans of soul and classic ska. For info, call: 704-487-9712 (BVM)

LAST FLIGHT OUT Talented brothers Jamie and Sam Nunnally have assembled some distinctive rock here, along the lines of a harder Jars of Clay, or a mellow PFR... Vocal harmonies are well done, but the cool guitars could stand to be turned up a little. To order, send a check (payable to Jamie Nunnally) to: 209 Woodland Village, Birmingham AL 35216 (BVM)

ONEFLESH Besides Lust Control, few bands come to mind who have dared to touch the subject of sexual sin. The latest, Georgia's Oneflesh, dares to stand up, with bold lyrics like, "Cyber sex will rot your mind/seeking what you'll never find/love in an image, love in a box..." The music on this four-song demo is a harsh blend of low, modern metal/thrash groove, with harsh, semi-melodic shouting, and some death metal moments. For info, write: PO Box 626, Marietta GA 30061 (BVM)

YOUTH IN SUBMISSION This under-produced punk rock extravaganza is downright Christian, and, well, why not? Production is very messy, and the guitars speed along with the romping old school punk vocal. There are, though, a few solos here and there, but the rhythm section can't necessarily keep a solid tempo throughout them. For info, write: Joshua Seibert, 28079 Croco Pl, Canyon Country CA 91351 (BVM)

JOINT HEIRS With a powerful stand for Christ, Joint Heirs crank out some typical sounding early 80's hard blues/rock. God-focused lyrics are belted out with passion, and guitar work is rockin', yet the sub-par production won't let you realize it right away. For info, write: Mike Watters, 224 Palmer, Rives Jct MI 49277 (BVM)

AUTOVOICE Someone told me Christian industrial doesn't usually measure up. Well, maybe it doesn't always approach the high standards of the mainstream industrial world, but sometimes it comes close. I would say Autovoice is average. It certainly measures up, but without the groundbreaking verve of bands like Kraftwerk. You'll hear nothing but typical distorted vocal and a reliance on keyboards and effects, and there are some decent grooves, like in "Construct." "Fallout" could stand to have better sound quality. For info, write: Flaming Fish, 9 Koidern Ave, Whitehorse Yukon Y1A 3N7, Canada (BVM)

JUST ROADS Very calm and soothing acoustic and electric guitars surround vocals which are flat at times, and could stand a little more variety. The first five songs are pretty much all the same slow, semi-melodic type thing, and the sixth moves into a quicker, albeit indie rock category. For info, write: 4441 S. Meridian, Ste #275, Puyallup WA 98373 (BVM)

MATTHEW BASSO The latest from Matthew Basso brings attention to his great vocals and good rock guitar playing and songwriting. But with such a weak low end, and monotonous rhythm instrumentation, this tape won't make it the top of my stack anytime soon. Keep your eye open for when the Basso gets some good recording equipment. For info, write: 1822 Monument Rd NW, Canton OH 44709-3531 (BVM)

TRUE NORTH Here's some very commercial sounding, hair-flippin' melodic hard rock, complete with smiling backing vocals and leads that define most of the melody. It's beautifully simple, and will appeal to fans of neo-glam. For ordering info, write: c/o Paul Castiglione, 19 Linlew Dr, #22, Derry NH 03038 (BVM)

INNER WARFARE I guess these guys used to be industrial. Well, now they're basically melodic hard rock. And while mediocre production slightly stifles the display of talent here, I believe it's there. To order, send $5 to: Jefray Arwadi, PO Box 1496, JKB 11014 Jakarta, Indonesia (BVM)

ILLUMINATOR Here are some smokin' guitar tones, huge eerie keyboards, and a big sound altogether, but where did they get that tired wet old drum sound? Speaking of old, stylistically, liken this band to some of the hair metal bands of the 80's, with the worn out riffs, but the keys and some of the vocal effects make this somewhat spacey. For info, write: Alien, c/o Emmanual Community Church, 225 N Dover Rd, Dover FL 33527 (BVM)

HEARKEN Taken directly from Scripture, all lyrics on this two-song tape proclaim the praise of the Lord, drawing from Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Galatians, etc. But as you might expect from good death metal, everything is growled, and instruments are low, strong, and quick. Interesting to hear "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord" done in this musical context. For info, write: BJ Southard, 12213 Pine Ln, Dickinson TX 77539 (BVM)

ASCENSION Outdated melodic metal pervades this disc from the very first track. A misplaced thunder & rain sample and goofy repeated gang vocals work together with poor sonic quality to botch the second track, and vocals regularly alternate between an off key rock voice and a flat falsetto. This band needs work. Let's hope their next CD, released later this year, is a lot better. For info, write: 7012 Glenburn Dr, Florence KY 41042 (BVM)

THE RAID ROCKERS Nice-boy gutter punk, without the dreaded nuisance of high quality production. Style is along the lines of bands like Ninety Pound Wuss, among others. To order, send $5 to: Steven Cox, Hamre, 4460 Moi, Norway (BVM)

KING'S GLORY Honest simplicity will render this appealing to the classic metal market, though there's not a ton of blah technicality. The skilled vocals could stand to be more believable, but for this genre, reality-based voice timbres aren't as necessary as the drama. The coolest here will be "Holiest Ghost." For ordering info, write: 417 S. 7th St, Boonville IN 47610 (BVM) ,

THOMAS MOODY If you like the quality songwriting of bands like Reflescent Tide and Nailed, you'll probably at least appreciate this. However, you won't hear those same big guitar sounds, as this is basically one vocal, one decent sounding acoustic guitar. In fact, the tape is appropriately titled Just Me and My Guitar. It's not bad, though the first song gets a little monotonous if you're in the mood for something faster. And the melody of "Hell to Pay" even reminds me of a Bush song. For ordering info, write: 1456 Cooper Ln, Conway SC 29527 (BVM)

SCHEER ENERGY Spencer Scheer could use some guts behind his vocals. Besides that, this 60's/70's pop is okay in an ultra safe Barbara Streisand kinda way. Most of the lyrics are simplistically cheesy, and a lounge guitar dominates most of the disc, and my goodness, that guitar's occasional blues tendencies are actually the only redeeming quality I can hear. Come on, let's make music that the unsaved would actually want to listen to! For info, write: 2086 Mill Road, Novato CA 94947 (BVM)

DEAD PHARISEES Here's a band we've been hearing good things about for years. Hailing from the North Pole (no joke!), these guys deliver a heavy-handed message about taking Christ and His rightful place as Lord seriously. They do this with a serious metallic "hardcore meets grindcore" approach. Kind of like standing in between the two encore tents at Cornerstone with Mortification playing on one stage and The Crucified on the other. The hype was right on these guys. They shred! For ordering info, send $17 ($20 if you live in overseas) to: Burcell, 2935 Circle Loop Rd, North Pole AK 99705 (DV)

CLEARVIEW Ahh...more metal! Anyone that saw Pantera dominate and literally control the Ozzfest crowds last year know the power of the groove. Clearview takes this Pantera groove metal approach and lays it down pretty mean. While the production sounds a bit hollow in places, the power and quality of the songs make up for it. If I have anything to do with it, these guys will be on a Pick Of The Litter album someday. For ordering info, write: PO Box 940453, Plano TX 75094-0453 (DV)

OCKHAM'S RAZOR There seems to be a groovy energy about this disc, from the jangly classic rock tinged "Hemorrhage," to the bouncy acoustic ska feel of "Whipping Boy." Vocals are similar to Frank Hart's (Atomic Opera) at times, but need to be sung more through the diaphragm, and songwriting has a vibe slightly akin to Wendy Bailey. This is a fairly decent recording with quite a variety of stylistic nuances. Be sure to check out "The Jester's Court" on this issue's sampler CD. To order, send $10 to: PO Box 36711, Canton OH 44735-6711 (BVM)

CHARIZMA Remember this hair band from Sweden? They're still cranking out music and, like some of their secular counterparts, they have altered their sound to compete with their new contemporaries. In this case, Charizma have chosen to compete with CCM's MOR stars, like Steven Curtis Chapman, 4Him, and the rest of Nashville's finest. These guys should either move to Tennessee's music capital or attempt to reign on Sweden's CCM charts. The Charizma of old is barely recognizable. For ordering info, write: Box 16, S-572 21, Oskarshamn, Sweden or email 'em at charizmatic@hotmail.com (DV)

STRANG'R PILGR'M BAND Here's something that doesn't boast of much (there's a label on the tape that says, "Open Mic Live," which should be read as a warning). The band should have never released anything this shoddy-sounding to a consumer public. I think even the sympathetic friend of the band would cringe when hearing this tape. With a classic rock sound that deserves better recording sonics, I'd say "Keep entering those battle of the band contests that offer free recording time as a prize." Just don't release your music in this way. It's like hearing a song through a cup and a very long string! For ordering info, write: 702 Bridger Dr #90, Bozeman MT 59715 (DV)

141007 I think I see a pattern here: These punk bands with numbers for names are trying to play a big joke on the mail-order music consumer. Don't be fooled! This music sounds as unrehearsed and out of time as anything you could imagine! I don't think it would even qualify as good Noise music (as in Art of Noise). I suspect that this punk outfit may be a revamped 441751, with an added female vocalist, a percussionist, and a couple more screamers. This flat out stinks! If you want to waste $2, send to: 141007, PO Box 141007, Austin TX 78714-1007 (Spiny Norman)

BIONIC JODI Remember Asight Unseen? It was one of those ahead-of-their-time modern rock bands that never really got the recognition it deserved. Well, two of those members (John Oliveira and Jason Lohrke) have formed Bionic Jody with John McElwee and Bob Morley, and have released an extremely well-crafted four- song EP as a preview for an upcoming album. While generally staying in the hard modern rock category, this product also enjoys bits of variety, with a few vocals akin to PFR's, an occasional soft keyboard/acoustic guitar moment, background vocals of all kinds, and a few disco wah-drenched solos. Some of the guitars and lead vocals remind one of the Curious Fools. Let's hope these guys get some attention. For ordering info, write: Back Bone Records, 7071 Warner, #F-440, Huntington Beach CA 92647 (BVM)

FAREWELL TO JULIET Back after its highly respected and sought after debut, Echoes of Laughter, Farewell to Juliet bring to the table a highly credible, mostly pop-oriented record entitled Grace and Dire Circumstances. Jeff Elbel is a great producer, guitarist, and writer, so it's a blessing to have his name show up in the credits before I even hear the record. The song "Justice" appeared as "Bean" on a project by Elbel's other band, Sunny Day Roses, but then, of course, with a female vocalist. Steady BGV's, balanced guitars, and credibly sung lyrics put this record on a high rung of the indie ladder. For info, write to Marathon Records, PO Box 1222, El Segundo CA 90245-6222 (BVM)

MINE'S CLARENCE You're standing there at a pot luck in the fellowship hall of a church you're visiting. Just when you think nobody will pay attention to you, a friendly guy jumps out from behind the shrimp salad, and asks your name. You reply, and without hesitation, he shouts... Um, okay, you see the point. We've come to expect quality from anything Matt Patrick does, and this record, appropriately titled What's Your Name?, is no different, with a strong affinity for funk, rap, and electricity. In the midst of an almost too poppy song, a rock & roll guitar solo will scurry across the floor. "Toss It Around" could practically be an EDL song, and the electronics in a few of the songs are a nice change from the band's old material. For info, write: Unity Productions, 4107 Upton Ave N, Minneapolis MN 55422 (BVM)

CYBERSHADOW With five different and different-sounding remixes of the same original track, Cybershadow turns in a long, very well done, specimen of industrial artistry. The various versions of "Social Conditioning" were remixed by members of such bands as Pivot Clowj, Audio Paradox, Children Within, House of Wires, and Delayed Shock Reaction. I must say, this disc is very full of high quality, semi-energetic industrial noises. Available through Flaming Fish Music, 9 Koidern Ave, Whitehorse Yukon Y1A 3N7, Canada (BVM)

APOLOGETIX In the tradition of Weird Al, Apologetix uses this album to parody some of the great modern rock hits of the past few years. Many cover bands come off sounding like just that cover bands; cheap imitations of "real" bands. But Apologetix having written over 300 parodies, from classic rock, country, top 40, and so on seems to pull off great musical copies. Ordinarily, I'd loathe the instrumental duplication of mainstream songs for the simple fact that the band essentially rips off another. But Apologetix knows they're cloning others, and they know it's funny. Among the bands spoofed are The Offspring, Nirvana, Dishwalla, Pearl Jam, Beck, Hootie & the Blowfish, Collective Soul, Alanis Morrisette, and Green Day with all lyrics substituted for biblical and evangelical ones. Granted, some folks just won't get the humor here, but in keeping with the band's name, there's plenty of defense and explanation for every second of this disc. So, I guess there's a place in the music world for bands like this. To order, send a check or money order for $15.99 to: 32 Eighth St, Herminie, PA 15637 (BVM)

OIL here's some super hard, semi-melodic metal, with tight, creative guitar riffing, and raw drums. The passion-filled vocals here are handled by none other than former Dark Angel singer Ron Rinehart. For ordering info, write: PO Box 5907, Norwalk CA 90652 (BVM)

ONE BAD APPLE They're back! You like guitars that have that down-tuned chug? You'll find plenty of it here, as they display some cool, low riffs. Creative, gutsy lyrics are spewed in a palpable hardcore fashion, with occasional bursts of rap, and sometimes even spoken word. "Post Mortem Depression" is a descriptive account of regrets faced on the way to eternal damnation, and "Hell's Half Acre" is a sadly humorous story of a corrupt priest. The CD is available through Kingdom Records, PO Box 210883, Columbia SC 29221-0883 (BVM)

RAMSIE SHICK I lost the original WordPerfect file that contained my first review of this record, so I had to review it again... But I didn't mind. It gave me an excuse to listen to it again! This is the kind of stuff that gets a coffee shop jumping. Not just the expected girl-with-acoustic-guitar-format, Ramsie's music actually rocks, in a rootsy Janis Joplin/Bonnie Raitt/Deborah Fatow kinda way, with a strong hint of a Larry Norman vibe. Besides the expected instrumentation of electric guitar and bass, there is also well-placed use of instruments like violin, Hammond organ, etc. Ramsie's voice and songwriting are both much stronger than expected. For ordering info, write: Crucible Records, PO Box 720094, Dallas TX 75372 (BVM)

PARIS BY NIGHT Classified as a "Dark rock band," Paris by Night is right up the alley of the gothic scene, with a nice blend of a beautiful cello, acoustic and electric guitar, and passionate female voice. Some of the mellow electric may remind you of the surf guitar tones on Starflyer's Americana, while much of the acoustic has a Spanish flair. Still, other parts, like "His Smile," has sort of a 007 vibe. All the while, Jeanine Acquart's vocals are hauntingly accommodating to this dark, yet exotic feel. For info, contact: 7Records, 325 East 92nd St, New York NY 10128 (BVM)

AUDIO PARADOX With intelligent, thoughtful lyrics sung through the token distortion, Audio Paradox deftly surrounds the listener with almost expected energetic electronic hard music. The band wisely recruits Spyglass Blüe guitarist Kane Kelly to play guitar on two of these three songs, though Josh Pyle seems to do a decent job there too. There's also a little cool bass guitar, which one doesn't too often hear in much of industrial music. Available through Flaming Fish Music, 9 Koidern Ave, Whitehorse Yukon Y1A 3N7, Canada (BVM)

NEW EDEN Vocals here are a little reminiscent of Rush, but sometimes head into glam metal territory. Guitars aren't too much different, yet the music itself is much harder, melodically celebrating the power/speed metal genre. Virtuosity must be important to these guys, since there are a ton of those speedy show off guitar leads a la Yngvie. To order, send $12 to Sentinel Steel Records, PO Box 123, Rockaway NJ 07866 (BVM)

WINTER GARDEN With a nice balance between the electric and heavy acoustic, Stephen and Michele Zaccone have made a very full project, with plenty of groove and excitement. Imagine what would happen if Out of the Grey's music was dominated by a Strat. For ordering info, email: wgarden@atlantic.net (BVM)

DAMASK ROSE This groovy melodic hard rock has a modern twist, and I like it. From the first note, these beautifully distortioned guitars are the hook that swim by and caught jaw like a mountain trout. And the BGV's are very well produced with sufficient balance. Those vocals on the chorus of "Lay Down" even remind me a little of King's X's "Goldilox." Also included on this five-song EP are some nice acoustic ballads. To order, send just $7.00 to Steve Welfring, 499 Richlee Dr, Campbell CA 95008-0715 (BVM)

CALDWELLS The majority of this extremely professional Dave Perkins-produced record is fairly safe, keeping the acoustic guitar close at hand. But "Count on You" has a great rockabilly feel, with electric attitude galore. Then, it's back to the decent, albeit mellow, typicality. For info, write: PO Box 121856, Nashville TN 37212 (BVM)

CRIMSON STAINED The most immediately noticeable thing about this band is voice of Justin Toler which rivals the strength and passion of Vedder without being a copycat. "Comfort Zone" should have been left off the record, but "Selah" is a beautiful instrumental that marries violin and electric guitar that could turn more heads if the production was a little cleaner, and the more organic "Job" is an intriguing piece sounding like a cross between Live and Hootie. For ordering info, write: PO Box 846, Leander TX 78646 (BVM)

AFTERLIFE The vocals in this traditional hard rock outfit almost sound to be sung through the nose, making them a little unconvincing, but they've still got some power behind them. Instrumental tightness abounds as guitar, bass, and drums mesh well, like they've been together a while. These guys are actually also a Rush tribute band doing their own tunes here, so, obviously, if you were into Rush, check these guys out. To order, send $13 ($14 outside USA) to Ayres Rock management, 6655 Wilkinson Ave, Ste 103, North Hollywood CA 91606 (BVM)

NORTH The cauldron of metal and industrial bubbles as the ladle descends slowly into it. The ladle rises, and what drips from edges is a strong mix of the two genres, sort of high tech metal artistry. Lyrics aren't bad either: "I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint. For dogs have compassed me; they pierced my hands and feet" (from "Temples of Dust"). The guitar playing is fresh and talented, and vocals are somewhat akin to those of Klay Scott's. To order, send $16 to Rugged Cross Connections, PO Box 2006, Independence MO 64055 (BVM)

EXTOL This band, featured on the Northern Lights comp., have recently added guitarist Ole Børud (ex-Schaliach), and are one downright heavy band. The usual lightning speed is added to a variety conscious unblack vocal, and the two come together with decent production to bang your head inside and out. The title track, "Home Journey," has some great grooves, and even a medieval flute interlude. For info, write: David Husvik, Bjerkelundveien 99, 1340 Bekkestua, Norway (BVM)

RAINCHILDREN Imagine the fun, yet mature lyrics of Caedmon's Call, but in more of a rock & roll context. While mostly recorded live at a coffee house, the studio tracks were produced by Steve Hindalong, and are somewhat more electric. This Pennsylvania band, with instrumentation sometimes reminiscent of Peter Shambrook, pops around with sufficient passion to be noticed in the future, if they aren't already. For ordering info, write: PO Box 1614, Lancaster PA 17608 (BVM)

HEAVEN'S RAGE This 14-song CD is some straight ahead metal, with the trade-off between the chugga-chugga guitar and a squealing one, with a sometimes distorted vocal sound not unlike an angry Luke Easter (though with not nearly as much variety as Luke). The first track is a salvation message, which many will see as a great thing, but others may consider preaching to be out of place if it comes before the music. For info, write: Box 151, Hurst IL 62949 (BVM)

KAT MARCO Here's a credible three-song CD with a sort of apocalyptic eeriness about it. Kat's guitar playing is great here, and the project adheres, for the most part, to a slower keyboard/guitar classic metal/arena rock format. Yet, the project seems to be based around Kat's operatic vocals, which, while quite strong, seem over dramatic. The emphasized vibrato frequently pulls them off key, as if an opera singer suddenly joined a rock & roll band. For ordering info, write: Rockat Records, PO Box 1440, Anthony FL 32617 (BVM)

EMOTION With very smooth guitar playing, this CD is full of great hard rock from Sweden. Vocals are full of power, and the keys are well played, but I'd like to have heard a little more weight from the guitars. Available through Rad Rockers (BVM)

CHAINS OFF Very smooth, modern pop/rock, from the Hammond organ sound to the rich voice and clean guitar tones. Good songwriting too. "Partytime" is an ultra funky ditty about Heaven, complete with a few skat vocals. For info, write: Tranehaugen 34, N-5046 Rådal, Norway (BVM)

DERT Funky, funky, funky... There's plenty of off time stuff here, as well as a bunch of that chinka-chinka guitar, some cool rock vocals, and even a little rap. To order, send $11 to: 20422 Nikki Ct, Sonora CA 95370 (BVM)

CROW With a lead vocal that's sometimes similar in style and intensity to the Offspring, this CD, Where Oblivion Flow, could be at the top of many a modern rock fan's CD stack. But with some of the guitar tones, this band could also be compared stylistically to Tourniquet. Still, other songs are a little dark, and some are all out cold hard metal. Whatever it is, it's good & heavy. Plus, the CD includes all kinds of neat files for your computer. For ordering info, write: Malmgatan 5a, 641 32 Katrineholm, Sweden (BVM)

STON BLU A laid back wah guitar coats the first track, "Seven Year Itch," along with a decidedly funk feel, but the second track, features straight rock, with more melodic instrumentation. All production is of the highest quality, and the voice is clear and strong. For more info, write c/o David Cummings, 20316 CR 36, Goshen IN 46526 (BVM)

MIRRORS At first, I noticed the tight BGV's which usually act as lead vocals and corresponding guitar. Then the songwriting itself caught my ear. It's a very spunky brand of good-time hard rock, with a consistent vibe and beautiful guitar tones chosen throughout the CD. The only downfall are some silly lyrics (i.e.: "I will try somehow. I won't be a cow. I'm going to the city.") For info, write: Box 4, Auburn NH 03032 (BVM)

ADVENT I would imagine this band is considered "entertaining for the entire family," because of the abundance of upbeat rhythms, safe, happy melodies, and the fact that there are (count em) two keyboard players. But Advent is definitely a rock band. There is a decent amount of guitar here, and Kelley Thompson can usually find the grit somewhere in his voice. Some of the melodies and vocal stylings would be quite comfortable in a melodic punk rock context. For info, write: PO Box 183431, Arlington TX 76096 (BVM)

GOD RULES! A high point on this compilation would have to be the track "Omnipotent," by Digital Interference. Here, a long sample of a sermon on God's attribute of being all powerful is complimented by dirty electronic hard rock. Juniper Drive turns in a good indie rock performance, with "Summerize the Fall," Secret Archives of the Vatican has some pretty good quality techo in "Boots," and 32 Purple's "Pull Through" is very passionate hard rock, full of groove. To order, send $10 to: Jubilee Harvest, 12150 SW Gingham #E, Beaverton OR 97008 (BVM)

WHY THIS WAY? Kingdom scored a big coup getting the Martha's Wake song, "War Within," on this, the label's third independent band compilation. The Colorado band plays some of the most unique and truly progressive rock around. Also included on the CD are songs by Damp (Glenn Rowlands' band), a quality arena metal of "These Walls," by Pursuit, the tight melodic pop punk of Hang Nail, the even tighter "prog" rock of Poetry of Dreams, and the well-produced Southern blues rock of Broken Vessel. Also, check out the quick-wristed rhythm guitar in the Antioch tune "Take the Water," or Shattered Delusion's ultra clean "Lonely World" (which could have used a little better vocal variety). Pretty decent compilation of bands from just about everywhere. For info, write: Kingdom Records, PO Box 210883, Columbia SC 29221 (BVM)

31 FLAVORS This compilation is certainly full of flavor, though there are actually 10 bands, with 2 songs each included. No matter. Lugsole brings a high quality brand of plodding modern rock to the comp, and the feedback heavy "Huskavarna," by Ester Drang, could easily be a Starflyer song. For your daily dose of funky wah, try "Wretch Like Me" by Fosters Thinking, which the band follows up with a ballad, "Perfect." Bethesda Pool is quite notable, as the production and songwriting is very professional. Melodic punk with a ska lilt is represented well by Kidz Eat Free, though the sound quality is a little muffled. Their other song, "Christian Girl," is extremely well done, with some tongue-tying vocals rivaling the fastest of such folks. Strange Occurrence could be a cross between Twin Sister and Dighayzoose, and Marvel is a pretty cool, heavy band, with vocals reminiscent of The Cranberries' Delores O'Riordan. In all, this is a pretty good cross section of Oklahoma bands (with a few from Alabama, and one from Washington thrown in too). For ordering info, write: M&M Productions, 700-D South Air Depot, Ste 350, Oklahoma City OK 73110 (BVM)

EXCELSIS: A DARK NOEL In a truly unique paradox, about 15 secular goth artists have contributed songs for this Christmas album, called Excelsis: A Dark Noël. Songs include Arcanta's mostly vocal "Carol of the Bells," a bilingual, operatic version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" by FuchiKachis Ethu, "The First Noël," by Thanatos, and the very messy and unrecognizable, yet relaxing, rendition of "Jingle Bells," by Lovesliescrushing. The highlight for HM readers will be "O Holy Night" by Eva O, with Eric Clayton helping out on vocals. To order, send $18 (Int'l orders add applicable postage) to Rugged Cross Connections: PO Box 2006, Independence MO 64055 (BVM)

OCTANE BLUE What would happen if Joy Electric suddenly became a hardcore band? You'd get this intriguing amalgamation of synthpop coupled with strong outbursts of guitar and hardcore vocal. Still, the next song might be a thoughtful indie rock, turning into grunge, and then onto something else. Too much variety can be the downfall of some bands, but given the talent here, we'll have to wait & see... To order, send $6 to: Brent Finnegan, 361 Louisa St, Broadway VA 22815 (BVM)

TMA-2 Here's an ideal choice for folks who are into dark electronic things in the industrial area. The project, entitled Artifact One, is a completely electronic instrumental record, with TV and movie samples a-plenty. To order, send $15 (Int'l orders add applicable postage) to Rugged Cross Connections: PO Box 2006, Independence MO 64055 (BVM)

CRIMSON REIGN When someone tells you they play the same style as Beegle, Satriani, and Vai, they suddenly have a lot to live up to. Well, this strictly instrumental band seems to measure up stylistically, while remaining mostly unique, and their fast, tight, multi-faceted "prog" rock has among the highest musicianship I've witnessed this issue. To order, send a check or m.o. (payable to Eric Gulbransen) to: Andre Fardoux, PO Box 1072, Des Plaines IL 60017-1072 (BVM)

ANONYMOUS PROPHET This six-song tape has some decent pop rock recorded on it, the only problem being production (levels, sound quality, etc.), which is an understandable problem for many indie bands. Some of the harmonies need a little help, but the tightness and songwriting are decent. "The Call" even has the unlikely combination of a harmonica and a drum machine with some keyboard effects. To order, send a $4 check/m.o. (payable to Cliff Knopik to: 510 S. River Apt, Apt A, Buckley WA 98321 (BVM)

FREE GIFT INSIDE Tapes with names like this tend to get a reviewer excited. Well, it's true. Dave Sea made 250 copies of this four-song demo (recorded on a four-track) to give away for free, to have fun, and to let it act as a musicians' contact source. He welcomes any other musicians to record home demos and send them to him for the next FGI tape. His regrettably second rate acoustic folk and electric ballads are but one small precursor to what FGI could turn into. To order, write: PO Box 25882, Santa Ana CA 92799 (BVM)

EDDIE LAMBCHILD All guitars in this home made album are quite nice, played with a similar passion found in much of Mike Roe's projects. The vocals suffer slightly with a nasal quality, but sometimes take on a gritty Larry Norman quality. Most all of these bluesy, mostly acoustic, folk songs are either worshipful or pleading for Divine direction. To order, send & to 1730 Newcombtown Rd, Apt A, Milleville NJ 08332-1822 (BVM)

D'VINE The spoken vocal at the beginning sounds like what could happen if a glammed up Dale Thompson did a presumptuous commentary on the End Times. This 80's influenced metal band does have some good music, with an awesome penchant for background vocals. For info, write: 463 Naughton Ave, Staten Island NY 10305 (BVM)

WET PAINT Remember the first Petra album, back in 1974? Well, most of you don't, but trust me, it had some great guitar work, but in comparison to its contemporaries, it really wasn't that great. The vocals on this similar album could use some depth, maybe even some passion, and while this is a well thought out concept record, the songwriting leaves something to be desired. For info, write: PO Box 10250, Cranston RI 02910 (BVM)

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