Okay... here they are... the Album Reviews!
Direct from issue 73
(Sept./Oct. '98)

[Click here to go straight to the Indie Reviews]

EMBODYMENT Embrace the Eternal (Solid State) Oh my! These guys join their labelmates Warlord in defying definition. In one word: metal! The first thing that will immediately jump on you and pin you to the floor is the lightning quick speed and tightness of this unit. If you’re caught unawares by this group, you might even feel like you’re Popeye and Brutus is punching you repeatedly in the face, with his knees pinning your shoulders to the ground. The double bass riffs have that effect. This image really comes to mind in the song, “Prophesy,” where I hear shouts of “prophesy,” which sound similar to the taunts that Jesus faced in His tortuous beating. Sonically it’s refreshing to hear all the different instruments clearly in the midst of an aural assault like this. One of the funny comments I heard about this album was, “They waste so many riffs, man! They use almost an album’s worth of riffs in just one song!” This allegation is almost an accurate description of Embodyment. They don’t seem happy to capitalize on one riff for too long, before they run through a time change or a completely different groove and then another and then another. If you don’t follow along, you might not even be aware that you’re listening to the same song! And they don’t just stick with speed riffing, either. Sometimes they’ll churn out a slow and beefy riff that could be used as military marching music, or in a Black Sabbath tribute song.

The other defining part of this band is the black metal like screeching for vocals that are everywhere. It’s not as extreme as much of the Norwegian black metal vocalizing, though, and it’s fairly decipherable most of the time.

Man, these guys are heavy! And boy have they shown improvement since their demos from 1995! If you see these guys live first, you’ll be amazed that they can pull it off in the studio. If you hear the album first, you’ll be amazed that they can pull it off live! Either way, this new band is in a win/win situation. Fans of hard music from both the metal and punk sides of the fence will embrace for this band. (Doug Van Pelt)

MxPx Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo (A&M/Tooth & Nail) A pile of awesome sounds comes from this disc, thanks to Steve Kravac’s production. It seems each sound, from guitars to vocals to that tight snare drum were recorded with the greatest of care. My favorite song from a guitar standpoint is “I’m OK, You’re OK.”

”The DownFall of Western Civilization” hints at something between arena rock and old school punk, with its guitar lead, followed by an acappella gang vocal moment. “Fist Vs. Tact” shows Mike’s ability to make the transition into a heavily shouted punk vocal.

Besides the staples — good, tight playing and great, catchy melodies — that you’ve come to expect from MxPx, there’s plenty of growth. Just like the maturity we saw between Teenage Politics and Life in General, so this is another leap forward for the band. Many have chided this band for “going secular,” which is kind of silly. Anyway, for those fans who aren’t happy until spiritual things are mentioned, check out “Tomorrow’s Another Day.” This CD is packed with 16 great songs, which should serve to entertain and challenge both old fans and new listeners alike. (Brian Vincent McGovern)

CRAIG'S BROTHER Homecoming (Tooth & Nail) As you may have read a few issues back, Craig’s Brother unwittingly achieved a position on this editor’s favorite punk band list, with their amazing 7-inch. Well, the full-length is out, and no, I’m not disappointed. From their ability to stop on the smallest of dimes to the incredible vocal talents of Ted Bond. There are more often than not two guitars going at once, and the harmonization continues with the three-part vocals, making this some of the biggest sound I’ve heard in this genre. The Title Track has a very 50’s melody, though instrumentation is strictly punk rock. And some of the guitar lead moments remind one of a little thing we used to call metal. I can’t wait to see if they can pull off this stuff live! (BVM)

SLICK SHOES Burnout (Tooth & Nail) After this magazine’s less than adequate review of Slick Shoes’ strong debut, Rusty, this young band is back to prove that you don’t necessarily know what you thought you knew about punk rock. One of the tightest punk bands in the Christian market, Slick Shoes sports some young members, including amazing-for-his-age guitarist Jackson Mould, and the equally speedy singer Ryan Kepke.

Like I said, these boys are tight, proving that they’ve played together constantly since their formation a year or two ago. And new guitarist Dale Yob’s contributions serve to make a thicker, meatier string layer. We don’t hear as many of Jackson’s metal leads this time, but we’ve certainly been impressed by what we’ve heard so far from Burnout — including the way one song turns into Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health.” (BVM)

PULLER Closer Than You Think (Tooth & Nail) With a cool melody blended with timely musicianship, the first track, “Wishing,” sadly laments a relationship with lyrics like, “I find I wish a lot, reduced to a vampire. This is all the damage I care to take...” I see a lot more guitar variety here. In fact, some of the hooks in songs like “Out of My Head” hint at Stavesacre. Though not as heavy, it sure is rock & roll.

Geoff Riley keeps the drums plenty busy, while steering clear of overplaying. And Mike Lewis again proves his talent, from smoothly played guitar, to impassioned vocals to his thoughtfully-penned lyrics. For those curious as to his spiritual direction, check out songs like, “Own Devices,” which admits, “You whisper my name, I hear my call, I tend to fall down, you lift up my heart... you lift up my eyes,” or even “Never the Less,” which pleads, “Speak to me gently, I’m fragile now. I’m giving up, please take me over...” It’s so good to see an artist write about his/her beliefs by demand of their own broken, open heart, and not the upkeep of a Christian music career.

Musically, it seems there’s more structure this time, more melody, and less of a mess. So if you like the Puller of old, you may want to think about the qualities you liked and disliked, and go from there. Better yet, just hear the record. (BVM)

BROWBEATS Wither Wing (KMG) The entire record features some of the more talented, yet underappreciated members of the modern Christian music community. Starting out this disc with EDL’s Tedd Cookerley, and having former members of bands like Plankeye and the Prayer Chain, as well as SF59 (Jason Martin) were wise choices, as they help to reinvent the vibe of this series (or compilation, or whatever it is), and serve to let folks know this isn’t the Browbeats of the past. But like the former, Mike Knott appears here, doing everything from guitar/bass to singing and screaming — especially alongside Scott Silletta in “Getting Normal.” Also a staple is Gene Eugene, especially with his stellar voice on the rootsy “Out of Time.” It was cool to hear the memorable “Ricki Racer,” and its remix, featuring Knott, and then an unnamed female singer, respectively. Also included here is a “rock version” of the Aunt Bettys’ “Tattoo.” Jason Martin’s performance (“Just Wanna Be You”) is a little more energetic guitar-wise than you’d find on a Starflyer record, and his vocals are less distinguishable, but heck, he does a nice job. In fact, I don’t think there’s a dud on the CD. (BVM)

PLAID Understanding God (Rustproof) These guys have more groove and credibility than many young bands out today, as suggested by their list of endorsements. Like the classic guitar hooks that are mixed with most modern rock? You’ll be thrilled to hear songs like “Listen” and “Live & Learn,” as well as the tight album opener, “Pick Your Poison.” Brannon Hancock also lifts the passion level with his vocal skills. Each song is either a humble and personal call on the Father, or an imploration for another to do the same.

The only thing I could’ve done without was the disco-like title track. If I caught the album in the middle of that song and didn’t know who it was, I’d speculate that it might be Michael Jackson on speed, doing lounge music... but hey, some fans’ll love it. Understanding God, besides being a difficult thing to accomplish, is a record with a ton of potential, not unlike the band that recorded it. (BVM)

SQUIRT Go! (Absolute) The voices haven’t changed yet... but the Hanson similarities end there. Instead of “mmm-bop,” these boys play rock & roll. Jordan Dickerson seems to have learned from dad in the vocal dept., as they’re clean and smooth. Blake and Torrey’s BGV’s aren’t bad either, but could stand a little refining. But heck, they’ve got time to improve. In fact, given the rate at which kids learn and adjust, I’d guess that they’re probably even better now than when this single was recorded. Interesting also is their rendition of “A Mighty Fortress.” The enhanced stuff gets an A+ in my book too! Easily navigable, with oodles of footage. (BVM)

CURIOUS FOOLS Electric Soul (Gotee) Complete with the trademark harmonies you heard on Read, Stephen Murray & Co. have finally released its follow-up. Still at the top of the pile production-wise, the smooth grit of Murray’s voice comes across clearly from the first note. This first song, “Top of the World,” is a scary foreshadowing of the rest of the disc. While much of Read portrayed a few more melancholy aspects of the human emotional spectrum, Electric Soul is, shall we say, happier. Lyrics like “If I stand, if I fall, I’m still on top of the world” remind me of artists like 4 Him and Point of Grace. While, thankfully, the music has not sunken to that level, there isn’t exactly a punch in the gut here either. Even though most songs have adequate soul and obvious emotion — a Curious Fools requirement — the entire album is at least thinly coated with a polish, perhaps, of the Nashville variety.

Besides for the reason of Murray’s deft vocal talents, I have always loved this band for their amazing guitar tones, and songwriting competence. “The Other Side” could be a neat throwback to a certain bullfrog known as Jeremiah, with it’s snazzy classic rock guitar, but it also has a few neat effects, like some voice box singing.

Read Is still one of my all-time favorite albums, but I cannot hand over that honor to Electric Soul so easily, due to the slick layers of CCM pop. (BVM)

PHIL KEAGGY (Myrrh) From the first driving acoustic blues rock “Sign Came Through a Window,” Keaggy’s relaxed, rhythmic songwriting is all over this disc, and his smooth, always Beatle-like voice comes from around the corner, reminding the listener of the man’s past work. Often lauded as one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, such playing is apparent in songs like the acoustic Celtic-flavored Beneath the Blood-Stained Lintel. “Under the Grace” is likely a get-Phil-on-the-radio song, as it’s a mellow JPM from the first CCM note. The Celtic tendencies continue with “Above All Things,” which I can rightfully compliment as similar to Rich Mullins’ work. “Chase the bad away” is the other near-rocker here, as the guitars are actually electric, but the best musicians know that loudness and technical proficiency isn’t as necessary as music that just plain sounds cool, and Keaggy delivers with this track. (BVM)

MORELLA'S FOREST From Dayton With Love (Tooth & Nail) While not as poppy sounding as Ultraphonic Hiss, From Dayton With Love is still very much more accessible than the band’s messy first record, Superdeluxe. Highlights include a few keyboards and violins among the usual distorted guitars, and there’s also a cool instrumental or two, proving that Morella’s Forest isn’t just “Sydney & the band.” Also here is a slower version of Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.” Why hasn’t this band been more widely noticed than they are? Ya got me! (BVM)

JESSE & THE ROCKERS (Screaming Giant) Melodic punk from Alabama? Can we take it seriously? Sure, we can! Jesse & the Rockers belt out some hypertension in this, their debut record. Considerably tight, but using neo-typical punk rock chord progressions, these guys jump in with both sneakers, and don’t let up, from the punchy drums to the well-produced, big-sounding BGV’s. (BVM)

EXETER FLUD (Bulletproof) The first track, "Darling D," is reflective of the vibe one will find on the entire album, yet the journey through this band’s debut recording brings to mind any word but monotony. Try emotive, deep, thick, and tight — and that’s just the guitars! Great production also drips from the disc, as more strictly evidenced by “Mystery,” with its laid back semi-Choir-like guitars and punchy opening drums. Most all of the impassioned vocals on the record, however, are dangerously similar, lending the casual listener an obliviousness to track differences. Whatever you call it, whether emo or just modern rock, Exeter Flud’s first time out is a success. (BVM)

Various HM Video Magazine Vol. 5 (HM Records) For all you metal fans out there, here it is — nothing but the metal. Six videos and band interviews are featured here. The highlights are Living Sacrifice’s “Reject,” which is black & white, and has great live shots mixed with staged rocking out. Definite MTV quality. Tourniquet’s “Crawl to China” is a pretty visually stimulating video. It’s got them in some shipping warehouse rocking out. This is pretty close to MTV quality. Screams of Chaos’ “Genetic War” is relatively good, with shots of war and nuclear explosions mixed in with the band jamming out. The singer and drummer have some interesting makeup on. The Galactic Cowboys’ videos “Feel the Rage” and “Evil Twin” are both very colorful and interesting ideas, but the film quality is not very good. I give them props for their ideas, though. Mortification’s video, “Mephibosheth,” is not too good. It’s very amateurish. Definitely colorful, though. Overall, some of the videos do not really appeal to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled by MTV, but I believe that if you’re gonna do it, do it right. (Eric Shirey)

Various Seltzer 2 [Video] & Seltzer 2 [CD] (ForeFront) In the label’s second edition of their Seltzer series, ForeFront utilizes the popularity of such bands as the Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and Plankeye, and newer artists like Jennifer Knapp and Miss Angie. But also included are material by the label’s own artists (“Peace” by Grammatrain, “Audio A’s “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus,” and Skillet’s “Saturn,” etc.). It’s also cool to see some lesser known, but eclectic (and similarly named) ensembles like The Electrics and Joy Electric.

An interesting thing about the video in relation to the CD, is that not all the songs on the video are on the CD, and vice versa. A plus for fans wanting to hear different songs by the same artist, but perhaps a minus for those who hear a particular song on the CD, and then buy the video with the intention of seeing that same song performed. The disc is full, with 17 tracks, but the video’s song count isn’t too shabby either at 14. (BVM)

STEVE HINDALONG Skinny (Cadence) As proven by Ted Kirkpatrick and Jesse Sprinkle, among many talented others, drummers aren’t just mindless lumps of muscle who sit behind a kit, quieting down when the “real musicians” tell them to. Steve Hindalong is a prime example of a take-charge drummer. After years of Choir membership, in which he co-wrote scores of songs with Derri Daugherty, and sang his share of vocals, he steps out to do a solo project. The man has also been extremely busy in recent years producing albums all over Nashville.

In his first venture into solo land, Hindalong displays a maturity found only in veterans, and veterans are also who he got to play with him on this record. Matt Slocum lends cello at times, Gene Eugene, Mike Knott, Jenny Gullen (hoi Polloi) add a little voice, Jason Martin (SF59) contributes some guitar, and Wayne Everett (Prayer Chain, SF59) takes care of various vocals, guitars and, of course, percussions. And it sounds as if the Phil Keaggy-ish “Diggin’ Your Style” is written for Everett.

While some may tire of Hindalong’s “contemplative simple man” voice, others may find it continually refreshing and just plain candid, so as to match the, yes, speculative lyrics. (BVM)

Various God-core Chronicles, I & II (Flying Tart) Oh wow, cool! This must be a compilation of indie hardcore bands, right? Wrong! This is a rehash of old songs from the R.E.X. catalog — dating back to that label’s beginning. Songs by Trytan, Detritus, Killed By Cain, and Greg Minier are anything but hardcore. Of course, songs like “Dies Arae” (Believer), “Skate or Die” (The Lead), “Front” (Six Feet Deep), “Twisted Reality” (Circle of Dust), and “Gutterboy” (Argyle Park) are cool to have collected on one CD (especially for those new to the scene who have never heard these tunes), but it just bums this reviewer out that a title with the word “core” in it was used. This is one of those products that you have to read the fine print of before buying. Beware.(DV)

Various Surfonic Water Revival (KMG) I can still remember my buddy Aaron and I singing Beach Boys songs for our peers during recess in the 4th grade; imagining we were at the beach, with the blue, blue surf shimmering on the horizon, and the little surfer girls wanting to hang out with us. The problem was, we were in chilly, landlocked Montana, and our California dreams were just that — dreams (especially the part about the girls). Well, this record is born out of the desire to glorify God, the Creator of the famed beaches in the Golden State.

All but four songs are written by non other than producer Terry Scott Taylor. He even sings two songs: one written for Kerry Livgren (“Into the Deep”), and a Daniel Amos song called “Pay for Surf.” The gritty ska of the Insyderz simply rocks on “A Good Sailor Knows,” and the vocals that Brother’s Keeper (performed with Phil Keaggy) achieve on “California Blue” are amazingly clean and strong. “Plumb’s performance of “Surfer Girl Replies” is a mellow, yet rhythmic statement, showcasing Tiffany Arbuckle’s nimble voice, and the trademark guitar work of Mike Roe (who is also the Lost Dog handling vocals on “The Net.”) It’s also cool to hear artists like Rebecca St. James here, obviously a context in which you’ve never experienced her... yet, only the surfy guitar distinguishes this (“Gold Coast”) from her usual fare. And Skillet’s “Last Day of Summer” starts off sounding a bit like Veer Chasm,” with the low half-spoken voice opening the verse.

One of the impressive things about this is that, unlike most compilations, this isn’t just a collection of appropriate songs the artists already had lying around. Each track was recorded specifically for this record (except for the Supertones’ instrumental “Caught Inside”). Taylor says it best in the liner notes: “There’s a little of the modern here, and a great deal of the retro, with a few surprises thrown in as well.” (BVM)

NEWSBOYS Step Up to the Microphone (Star Song) Yeah, they may be the darlings of youth pastors everywhere, but unlike many such bands in the industry, that doesn’t mean the music is sub par. This record has a bite that just a few of the band’s previous records have had, while maintaining the band’s penchant for quality songwriting. Steve Taylor did not produce this project, but rather, vocalist/songwriter/former drummer Peter Furler did, and it sounds great. John James is gone, but honestly, it doesn’t make a huge difference, as it’s usually been Furler’s elastic voice you’ve been hearing for the past few years anyway.

The last two songs on the album are deep, contemplative ballads, showcasing the relatively newfound lack of silliness Newsboys has found, and are no longer leaning on the Steve Taylor songwriting crutch for which critics have chided them.

This next step in the band’s career has plenty of rock & roll, along with the band’s everlasting European influences. but I’d almost venture to guess that one who doesn’t like this record either can’t stand this style (poppy electronic modern rock), or simply doesn’t want to like Newsboys, due to any number of presuppositions about them. (BVM)

TONY PALACIOS Epic Tales of Whoa!! (Cadence) This is a bold album for Guardian’s six-string slinger. It’s 1998 and it’s been ten years since neo-classical albums by guitar heroes like Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine were standard items in the album collections of musicians and metalhead fans alike. In some ways, it’s not “cool” or “in” to be noodling away with the guitar like this, but it’s also fairly timeless to create and play instrumental tracks with proficient playing skills and an ear for a good melody — especially when it comes to a Texas blues song like “Tom’s Cat.” Tony, of course, has a great ear for songwriting and great fingers for soloing. Much like the solo operatic genre, which is a “make or break” situation depending on how good the voice sounds, this guitar album niche is for showcasing a guitar that can sing. Tony’s fingers indeed sing like a bird.

Apparently, this album was written over a ten-year time span, with several different and legendary musicians adding their drum and bass chops. Sometimes in this genre you’ll hear an obvious drum machine and the kind of rhythm section that is barely propping up the lead guitar playing. Overall, this doesn’t seem to be the case. And over all the overall, this playing is good and I like it. I like it a lot. (DV)

POUND HOUND Massive Grooves From the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungalism Rock Music (Metal Blade) After swallowing the mouthful of a title that also serves as the album’s introduction, you are taken on a wild ride that runs from Jimi Hendrix psychedelia to P-funk to Dogman dirty low-end crunch. Fans of King’s X will miss the harmonies, but get a healthy dose of the heavy side of King’s X. Doug Pinnick here claimed to have recorded some of this in the key of B, which makes for quite a low sound (check out the intro to “Shake”). Other King’s X characteristics, like repeated lines of a chorus (“Friends”), appear as well, making no mistake about who you’re listening to. After hearing Doug talk of his varied influences for years and how he wanted to do a solo album, I’m surprised at how similar this album is to King’s X! I expected total departure.

Although very unconventional, Doug’s music and words create almost an electric church service: “Close your eyes and hear the music / close your eyes and feel the music / open your mind to know the music / let your soul come taste the music...let it be good, good, good to ya. Somebody’s words, and then there’s music...no need to fear, it’s only music!” But what about references to: the God of dysfunctional love? Shake your thang? Wrangle-jangle something to believe in? The lyrics here raise a few questions. “My world just got darker?”

For those wanting their faith wrapped up in a nice, neat package, you won’t get it here. But those wanting to know if this record is “safe” to listen to will be glad to know that it is. While Doug may have some ideas and thoughts that might challenge a believer’s mind, but he doesn’t really push the envelope here. (DV)

MAD AT THE WORLD World History (KMG) In a great move for Christian music enthusiasts, the KMG label purchased the back catalog of Frontline (including the Intense and Alarma sub-labels), allowing classic metal and alternative releases to see the light of day again. Besides the double-disc re-issues that skimp on original artwork/packaging, a few “best-of” albums have been released. Mad At The World gets the treatment here. 14 tunes are picked for this collection, and the song selection was good. What’s interesting about this release is how it sounds. It appears that many of these tunes were re-recorded or massively re-mastered. “Fearfully and Wonderfully” and “Dry Your Tears” sound slicker and dramatically slower than their urgent original versions. Is this what happens when music leaves California for a Nashville release? For some of these songs it helps, but for many it polishes off some of that cool “edge.” (DV)

TWO OR MORE Walking on the Water (Pamplin) This slick-sounding band has a sound that marries arena rock with the CHR (40 year old female Christian radio listeners) genres. With a vocalist who sounds uncannily like John Schlitt at times, this former Star Song outfit produces a clean and melodic sound not too unlike The Brave or Def Leppard — mostly the fore-mentioned bands’ quieter moments. One of the highlights here that will probably get some Christian radio airplay, ironically, is a cover of the Extreme song “Holehearted.” The band’s harmonies treat the song well. (Just don’t tell Nuno Bettencourt that his named is spelled Numo in the liner notes!)

While rockers need to know they’re not going to get their energy quota, fans of prog rock are going to hear some beautiful vocals in a couple tunes, like the title track’s chorus and “Holehearted.” Producers John & Dino definitely have a knack for refining polished sounds like this. (DV)

THREE CROSSES Skinny Flowers (Benson) This talented Southern rock band have a talent for writing good songs. Tunes like “Blue Motel” and “Maybe Tonight” blend clean and simple melodies a la The Eagles with the Delta sounds of the Hammond B-3 organ, slide guitars and shakers — producing a full and wide sound. They don’t ever git down with a guitar onslaught a la Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Outlaws, because they opt for the more soulful and laid-back Southern style. It’s a step in the right direction away from the syrupy CCM sounds of a Steven Curtis Chapman without sounding dangerous or too edgy. The song structures, however, help make this band very listenable. Classic rock radio could easily embrace tunes like “I Have Never Seen The Wind” or the sentimental “Seeds of Sorrow”

It’s weird to review Embodyment and Three Crosses in the same issue or the same magazine, but you can’t argue with songwriting this good. (DV)

THE CALL To Heaven and Back (Cadence / Fingerprint) The Call — what a mighty group. Defining passion and a big influence on indie rock, this band takes a few unexpected turns on an otherwise typically great Call album. Instead of the pulsating dirty Midwest meets depression rock sound of the band’s past, there’s actually some pop-influenced on the opening cut, “Soaring Bird.” The ballad “Think It Over” takes a melancholy approach that contrasts wildly with the almost new wave-ish “Musta Been Outta My Mind.” The ship steers back on course quickly, as songs like “Criminal” and “Love Is Everywhere” will attest. The standout cut is easily the slow but passionate “Become America,” which has been played out for awhile by the band and also appeared on the Best Of album that came out last year.

Often thought of as a sort of “sister band” to U2 and The Alarm, “All You Hold On To” almost sounds like an Achtung Baby era song. It’s strange to see The Call on a Christian market label, especially with a solid performance like this. You’d think the band could’ve gotten a much sweeter deal with material this good. (DV)

LANNY CORDOLA Salvation Medicine Show (KMG) Partly due to non-existent marketing and push, and partly due to Lanny’s prolific songwriting abilities, I feel like I’ve blinked a few times and missed half a dozen of this guy’s albums. Here’s another one that almost slipped through the cracks into quick obscurity — Salvation Medicine Show. On this 15-song collection, Lanny once again pays deep respect and tribute to his blues forefathers. Relying on steel, acoustic, and electric guitars — as well as various other stringed instruments (dobro, banjo, ukulele) Lanny puts together a rustic, laid-back album that reads like a backwoods hymnal — “If I Ever Needed Someone” (penned by Van Morrison), “Last Call,” and “Eulogy for a Friend.” Quite a contrast from the blistering electric licks on Tony Palacios’ solo album, but full of quality songs showing rock’s roots without rocking. In fact, some of these tunes, like “Confessions,” could cross over into Country radio. (DV)

Various Pick of the Litter, Vol. 2 (HM Records)
[Taken from a virtual chatroom]

Spiny Norman: “Rackets & Drapes rule!”
Little Frankie: “Yeah, they’re okay, but I wanna hear some hardcore!”
SN: “Give it a rest! Engage (fka Solomon’s Porch) is on here!”
LF: “One song? Is that all the hardcore there is?! Plus, the sonics are terrible! And they use the word ‘whore.’ I thought this was a Christian album. I like the quirky ‘Stinkfish’ by Mine’s Clarence, but the Groove tune sounds too much like Bush. And what about metal? I wanna hear metal!”
SN: “You go, girl. Check out His Majesty, The Moshketeers, and Eternal Decision.”
LF: “And don’t forget Michael Sweet! This ‘Truth’ song sounds better than anything from his two solo albums!”
SN: ”I agree, but Rackets & Drapes still rule!”
LF: “Veer Chasm is cool along those lines, too. I just can’t get my eyes off the front cover.”
SN: “That’s the editor’s wife, stupid!”
LF: “I’m talking about the cat, Spiny!”
SN: “The big question, Franklin, is ‘Will you buy this album?’”
LF: “I don’t have to, I got it free for writing this review with you. But ten bucks isn’t a whole lot to ask for 14 songs.”

THE WEDNESDAYS American Midnight (Tooth & Nail) This label put out a fun 5-song 7” here, showcasing the cowpunk rock-a-billy and blues of The Wednesdays. The highlights are “Bloodsucker” and “What You Wanted.” The title track suffers a bit from an approach that could be described as “tired blues,” and “Conformity” features a weak vocal performance. 3 out of 5 ain’t bad. (DV)

CREED My Own Prison (Wind-Up) I can’t tell you how many letters & emails we’ve received here, asking, “Is Creed a Christian band?” Vocalist Scott Stapp said it best when he was recently on the show Politically Incorrect: “We’re not a Christian rock band. People say that because I like to write about God.”

The first indication people got that something was up with this band was when their first single, the album’s title track, started getting heavy radio airplay on mainstream stations all over the country. Lyrics like, “See a vision of a cross / I feel the pain that was given . . . only he holds the key / A light to free me from my burden / And grant me life eternally . . . I cry out to God / Seeking only his decision.” Sounds like music I like to hear! But the latest single, “What’s This Life For,” thrice screams: “Don’t have to settle no God (bleep) score!” Hmm. I hate hearing the Lord’s Name in vain, but I love Creed’s music. (DV)

And now for the indies...

TREASURE SEEKER Here’s a very special album. William Hieb of Seventh Avenue, Andy Gutjahr of Lightmare, and Olaf Hayer of Chryztyne (all Scandinavian bands) got together to pay Tribute To The Past, laying down fairly straight-forward covers of Stryper (“To Hell With The Devil”), Bloodgood (“Out Of The Darkness”), Saint (“Too Late For Living”), and other Christian metal founders, like REZ, Bride, Jerusalem. The output is high quality, although the vocals are vastly different than the originals. The guitars are superb! For ordering info, write: (Doug Van Pelt)

DEUTERONOMIUM Earning the biggest tongue-twister for a name category, this Finnish outfit also comes to the plate with some credible hard music. They mix hardcore fury with thrashy and death metal guitars and some grungy low end to produce a unique ‘n’ heavy sound. Occasionally the vocals will come screeching out a la black metal style. Fans of Cradle of Filth, Embodyment and Zao will probably be into this mayhem. For ordering info, write: PO Box 533, 40101 Jyvaskyla, Finland or email: Irose@sci.fi (DV)

MICHAEL SWEET Doubters beware: Michael Sweet is making relevant music in the 90’s (reference: the title track and “Wool & Chiffon”). This, his third solo album and first independently-released effort, is a collection of ten songs that he wrote and decided to include himself, without the constraints and direction of a Nashvillian influence. There are new musical sides here that we’ve never heard, and there are also glimpses of the Michael Sweet material that sound like they could have been on either one of his last two solo albums (“Blue Bleeds Through,” for example). We even get a mixture of the two worlds on a few songs, like the schizoid “I Am Adam” and “Achilles Heel.” To some, the crafting of melodic hard rock is a lost artform, which keeps those who make it pressured to do it well. Michael Sweet succeeds. For ordering info, see ad this issue. (DV)

EXTOL One of the most talked-about bands in Christian metal today, rightfully so, is Extol. True metal power with amazing musical skill is presented here in sonic balance. While some of the drum sounds lack fullness, the churning guitars and wicked-sounding vocals fill things out a bit. Just as Believer demanded respect for its ability to maintain such technical brilliance at supersonic speeds, so Extol’s Burial album deserves to be in every metal fan’s collection. You won’t be disappointed. For ordering info, write: Rad Rockers, PO Box 207, Milan MI 48160-0207 (DV)

DEATH LIST This brutal death metal band certainly has its chops down. Lightning fast crunching and double bass drum playing give this band instant credibility in this genre. It seems the choice of artwork was an attempt for death metal credibility too. It understandably will be refused in some retail outlets, as an actual photo of a decapitated female graces (ug!) the cover. It’s too bad, because the music shreds and the lyrics communicate that “eternity (is) bought by blood of the Nazarene . . . now be set free.” For ordering info, see Cross Rhythms ad this issue. (DV)

OVERCOME Okay, these guys lay down some mean hardcore. Even when the instruments step slightly out of time with each other, vocalist Jason Stinson holds it together with convincing screams. While production lacks some thickness at times, the songwriting and cool riffs make up for it. If you dig hardcore punk, you’ll be into this. If you dug When Beauty Dies, then by all means, you’ll want these five songs. To order The Life of Death, send $7 (postage paid) to: Facedown Records, 415 East 6th Ave, Escondido CA 92025 (DV)

NO INNOCENT VICTIM / PHANATIK No Innocent Victim, those constantly touring freaks, are captured here (at the legendary CBGB’s in New York no less) live, where their physical power really shines. Fans of power groove metal as well as hardcore bands like Unashamed will love these two songs. Phanatik has two songs here as well. “Forgiveness” starts off mixing a wild hip-hop scratch intro with smash mouth punk. They jump into a bare groove a la old school punk in “On A Mission.” Available from Facedown Records. (DV)

SHOCKWAVE Here’s a band that lives up to its name. This 4-song 7” vinyl sounds heavy and intense with hardcore power riffing and screaming vocals high up in the mix. Another great example of the high quality present in the Erie, Pennsylvania hardcore scene. For ordering info, write: PO Box 8764, Erie PA 16505-0764 (DV)

RED RUM TRANCE Matt Frantz, the musical mastermind of this project uses terms like ‘Oriental Folk’, ‘Experimental’ and ‘Jazz’ to describe his style. This CD is loaded with weird sounds and samples. Lots of sounds are hard to recognize. Among the loads of synthesizer on this CD, there’s also some live instruments. Acoustic drums, fretless guitar and bass can all be found, but not the way you’d expect. To order, send $13 (CD), or $10 (cass) to PO Box 31248, Cincinnatti OH 45231 (Willow DeLange)

NECROMANICIDE The first thing I noticed about this CD is the great artwork. When I started listening it took me by surprise: it’s metal! And although it’s not really my thing, it’s quality stuff. There’s a variety of styles on it that ranks from the old school hardcore The Crucified excelled in, to the speedmetal of Deliverance to growly deathmetal. For ordering info, write: 14, Lorong 4/52A, Petaling Jaya Selangor D.E., Malaysia (WDL)

FOURTH WATCH This CD starts off with a couple of melodic metal songs, followed by some songs that remind me of the college rock of a band like Dryve. There’s some really crunchy guitar on ‘Five’ accompanied by some bluesy vocals that has the same vibe as Die Happy. The lyrics deal with problems we all have walking with God. For info write: PO Box 672, Paducah KY 42003 (WDL)

CRASHING TIDE Modern rock with 70’s influences. The vocals are pretty good, and sometimes there’s some likeness to James Hetfield. Especially track four, ”The Crashing Tide”, could easily be a Metallica ballad. These guys definitely know how to write a good rock song. For info write: Dust Records, 1822 Monument Rd. Canton OH 44709 (WDL)

WRENCH There’s some decent metal on this CD! The vocals fit the style well, but tend to get annoying after a while. There’s some good guitar solo’s on this album, but the overall guitar playing could be a little more creative. There’s nothing on this disc that’s new or refreshing, but it’s decent alright. To order send $10 to 555 South Glenwood, Independance MO 64053 (WDL)

JUNK O.K., so not every band gets an A-plus, but I think it’s kinda rude to call it all junk though. There’s some rocking stuff on this compilation cd. It gives you a good impression of the bands Kingdom Records signed up. The styles on this disc vary from death-metal to Southern Blues, so there’s something for everyone. See ad this issue. (WDL)

EDEN REGAINED There’s some great modern rock on this cd. Production is great: the bass is as nasty as it’s supposed to be, the guitar tones are crunchy when necessary, clean when appropriate. The choruses are King’s X-like, full of harmony and melody-changes. This is a nice rock album and deserves your attention. For info write: 62 S. 31st. St, Newark OH 43055 (WDL)

WET SOUL Nothing special on this cd. There’s some nice rock songs on this album, but that’s pretty much it. Vocals and guitar are ok, but not exceptional. Regarding the fact this was recorded in a garage, the sonics are pretty good. If you’re into standard rock bands, get this. For info write: Tony Ferrera, 15142 Moorpark St. Suite #102, Sherman Oaks CA 91403 (WDL)

THE BONHOEFFERS There’s obviously a lot of different bands that influenced The Bonhoeffers. There’s a bit of Driver 8 rock, a bit of the Starflyer drowsiness, and there’s definitely the SF song structure. Overall: a nice cd with lots of different styles mixed into one tasty blend. There’s only one thing I ask myself: What’s the link between Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and this band? For info write: PO Box 345, York NE 68467 (WDL)

DAUGHTER SILAS The sonics on this record aren’t too good. The bass guitar is too loud, overshadowing the clearness of the drum and mainly the guitar. The vocals aren’t outstanding either. There are some funky songs on this cd though. The ideas and structure of these song are ok, I just think they need to practice and get a better recording system. For info write: 606 East Simpson McPherson KS 67460-4410 (WDL)

THE SKY KINGS First association I had listening to this cd was Eels. Not necessarily the music, but the intimate, laid-back and original feeling this tape has. One song could easily be on a Simon and Garfunkel record. Not for the metalheads, but for people who appreciate to hear something different every now and then. For info write: 7116 NE 52nd St, Kansas City MO 64119 (WDL)

COMMON GROUND I can see that this band is serious about what their goals are. Their music isn’t too exciting though. The music is pretty funky at times, combining acoustic guitar with some funky bass. The vocals are probably too CCM for HM readers, especially those of the girl. For info write: 4548 Lowell Ave, Lincoln NE 68506 (WDL)

HOLYSMOKE Holysmoke? Is this a sanctified brand of cigarettes? This is quite confusing for me, as I just quit. Ah well....music. The voice of Lisa Ginther has some similarities to that of Wendi Kaiser, just less raw. The lyrics are a bit corny at times, reminding me of the songs I used to sing in Sunday School. The guitar is pretty crunchy throughout the record, but gets a bit boring when you’ve come to song three. For info write: Doug and Lisa Ginther, 641 South Spruce, Wichita KS 67211 (WDL)

PAUL WILKINSON This EP contains four songs in the folk/ lo-fi tradition. For the biggest part of most songs it’s acoustic guitar, every now and then accompanied by an electric guitar. There’s a couple of really nice lines in the lyrics, take ‘Forgiveness’ for example: ‘she wanders aimlessly in rhythm / her heart becomes the center of a beat’. If you’re into Damien Jurado or Dan Donovan you’ll like this. For info write: PO Box 1403, McPherson KS 67460 (WDL)

RACKETS & DRAPES “These guys are like a Christian Marilyn Manson,” I would say to passers-by at Creation Fest. Heads would turn, eyes would widen, and I was ostracized. Manson is a taboo name in the Christian industry. But, these guys have the inevitable pleasure of wearing this tag. The Christian music scene has needed something like this for several years. This 11-song disc, Candyland, is full of heavy riffs, dissonant noises, and various gothic pandemonium. Kind of creepy at times. Kind of happy at times. Kind of kicks at times...well, maybe all the time! My favorite track: “Milk And Cookies,” with its hard-as-a-brick riffs ripping throughout. Since I am being paid to be a critic, my only draw-back is in the seemingly obvious similarities to some of Manson’s actual songs. But, hey, this is awesome stuff, so who cares? These guys need some major label attention. You very well may need to see these guys live. You very well may need this album. You know who you are. You should write for ordering info (PO Box100632, Denver CO 80250-0632). I’m not pushy. Really. (Chad Olson)

THE CALICOES From the first note, on the song “Honky Tonk Rollin’ Fool,” it’s obvious where these boys come from musically. With a pure rockabilly angle, and some rich easy-on-the-ears production, this band thanks everyone from Garth Brooks to Starflyer 59 in the liner notes. Perhaps one of the things that makes this genre stand out are the guitar tones, and The Calicoes don’t fail in bringing about what you’ll hope to hear. The vocals are also awash with the expected 50’s drawl, bringing to mind, of course, bands like the Stray Cats, et al. “Rice Burner” is a quick stepping instrumental, with a few foreign sounds thrown in. For ordering info, write: 9121 Atlanta Ave, Ste. #237, Huntington Beach CA 92646-6309 (BVM)

THRE3 From Corpus Christi comes once again the high quality sounds of Thre3, this time with a project called Souleve Tout. Having generally been considered modern rock, the band has taken a more electronic turn, as evidenced by last year’s project, and driven home on this one. Still here, though, are the deep, heartfelt vocals, and the neat-o rock & roll guitar. PR’s penchant for quality design is evident in the packaging, and his desire to have the highest quality musical production shows itself well on this 15-song CD. For ordering info, write: PO Box 3397, Corpus Christi TX 78463 (BVM)

BACK TO THE GARDEN Whoa... heavy, crunch, boom. I’ve been attacked! Call 9-1-1! This is sort of modern metal, even a little rap-core here. Well, whatever it is, it’s hard, it has groove, and I can’t imagine these guys stuffing any more passion and intensity into this three-song cassette. Lyrics are all all very expressive too: “Today I tried walking on water, and I stand here dripping wet. For info, write: c/o Kevin Noonkester, 1814 Conowingo Rd, Bel Air MD 21014 (BVM)

THE IVY LEAGUE After winning first place in the Independent band Competition at the Wherehouse (Bartlesville OK), these boys — each named after a particular Ivy League school — continue with their brand of modern ska. Horns are high and striking, and guitars are well played, with plenty of punk rock attitude and distortion. The only big problem is that the sonics tend to drop out at times, relegating the guitars, for instance, to the far background. This did nothing, however, to diminish the band’s energy level (which could probably bite right through any production problem). More like Five Iron than the Supertones, The Ivy League are poised to be the next big ska band. For info, write: ORU CPO 71-3048, Tulsa OK 74171 (BVM)

LUCID With some metalized Brainchild tendencies, and vocals not unlike that of Sepultura, or even some of Argyle Park, Lucid’s 12-song CD is full of pummeling Pantera-like riffs that throw your head back against the couch. For info, see ad this issue, or view the readme file on the HM compilation CD. (BVM)

VARIOUS Quietboy Compilation, Vol.2 The first band on here, War Rocket Ajax, thrilled me with their rootsy, mid-America punk rock, but sounded dangerously like My Friend Fil. And the second band thrilled me simply because they’re Left Out (performing “Still”). Yessireee, these Quietboy comps are getting better and better. Not only are they strengthening musically, but the production of each band seems to be improving over past compilations. Of course, there are always the appeal of the low-budget bands like Powell Elementary Field Day, Paragon Null, etc. Bomb Squad is pretty cool, with their melodic, yet variety-filled punk rock, not unlike Craig’s Brother, et al. Speaking of which, Craig’s Brother contributes the melodically brilliant “Dear Charlotte” (which also appears on their T&N CD). It was fun to hear the classic rock-flavored punk-a-billy of Paperboy Mafia. Breaking the punk rock streak is Abstain’s dynamic industrial, Matt Wright’s voice flowing through some original effects, though displaying enough strength to render this artist noticeable. It’s all definitely worth the measly five bucks, especially at a time when most “Christian” CD’s go for about $17! To order, send the fiver to: Nichole Adrian, 9109 Windrush, #618, Ft Worth TX 76116 (BVM)

VARIOUS RIM This big & varied compilation is just plum full of cool bands doing cool songs. The Every Day Life song “Time to Change” has much more melody than we’re used to from this band, but still reigns with Cookerley’s ragin’ rapcore vocal. Other high points of the disc are songs by highly respected indie artist Jeff Elbel, in addition his bands Farewell to Juliet and Sunny Day Roses (who does Stryper’s “You Know What to Do”). Kevin Clay also contributes “Coffee with Caffeine,” and then there’s “Dog Heaven,” which the track listing says is Moby performing as Voodoo Child. Goth makes an appearance in the form of the ethereal Evanesce, utilizing old organs, piano, etc., and Enya-like vocals. Huntingtons also pop up, doing “Dokken Roll,” and Michael Knott does a dreamy “Miss Understanding.” As if all this weren’t enough variety, the RIM comp also has tracks by Vigilantes of Love and Bon Voyage, rounding out the CD very nicely. For info, write: PO Box 458, Pelham AL 35124, or visit www.ricochetmusic.com (BVM)

VARIOUS Underground 101 This latest indie compilation from M&M Productions is big, two CD’s, the comp is jam packed with all manner of modern Christian ska, punk, and rockabilly. Proving the phenomenal growth of this scene, there are literally too many bands to mention here (42!), and most are so good that there are almost too many to even call highlights! But some of the more notable sounds I heard on disc 1 were from bands like Front Runner, The Fraidy Cats (a rockabilly nod to the Stray ones), Maintenance Man, Vigilantes (who approach the quality of Dogwood or Craig’s Brother), Triggerfuse (an amazing reincarnation of Slam Cat), and Green Ribbon (well-produced goth blend). Disc 2 included some notable performances by The Ivy League Philmore, The Aloha Fridays, Mr. Smarty Pants, and Ester Drang, among others. For info, write: M&M Productions, 700-D South Air Depot, Ste. 350, Oklahoma City OK 73110 (BVM)

BRIDE This pioneering band has always been willing to take the initiative to put together and sell videos all by themselves. This, The Ultimate Bride Video, is a continuation of their series of exclusive videos, and has such an ultimate name because of its conceptual diversity and wide span of years covered. There are several “Flashback” segments, featuring footage from 1986 through 1994. It’s all here. You see the long hair, spandex and synchronized stage antics, all the way up to the extreme passion flowing from the heart of Dale Thompson in soccer arenas in Brazil. Unfortunately, sound quality is not always the best. The Brazil stuff has excellent camera work and picture quality, though. Also included is plenty of live footage. The making of the “Worm” video is followed by a live version that is plagued by some nifty camera tricks that gets old quick. The thing we noticed about the making of... is that Dale really sings as videos are filmed, lending a visible credibility that most lip-synced videos don’t have. Other highlights include footage of drummer Jerry McBroom’s first show, some stuff from the Ric Foley era, the “God Gave Rock & Roll to You” video with DOC, and some Spinal Tap-ish stuff from the Stryper tour. (It’s a shame there was no musical footage from that tour.) There’s also stuff from some of the band’s many C-stone appearances, including unplugged versions of “Hired Gun” and “Heaven’s Door.” And what’s a Bride product without a Gospel message? Well, this one’s lifted straight from HM Video Magazine, Vol. 4. But no matter what cassette on which you happen to view it, the Gospel is still the Good News of Jesus... and Bride is all about Jesus. This video is a must-have for a serious Bride fan. For ordering info, write 295 Churchview Rd, Westpoint KY 40177 (BVM)

EQUINOX One word: Heavy. Well, okay... more than one word: This is the fastest, most harsh bit of ample musicianship I’ve heard this issue. Bold, artistic anti-demon lyrics proclaim things like, “Demons’ eyes bleed, they cannot see/relentless screams, ‘Christ do not torture me!’” Most are written from the perspective of the vile one, and one is written from the perspective of a man questioning God’s existence. A little controversial, but completely healthy if done with an open heart and a good Scripture search. But hello, this got me in the mood for some righteous black metal. Guitars buzz their way around death/black vocal and classic metal vocal trade-offs, and the drums are 20 unified jackhammers, though slightly monotonous at times. To order, send $17 (CD) or $7 (CD) to: c/o Mike Chevalier, 512 W Baraga Ave, Houghton MI 49931 (BVM)

FLAX This groove-filled rap-core project is described in the bio as hardcore, but I hear strong vocal similarities to bands like EDL and 311. This lyrically bold band is also very skilled instrumentally, knowing the difference between sound and noise. For info, write: 3126 3rd St NE, Birmingham AL 35215 (BVM)

EGO Just about all of the first song is basic classic rock & roll type guitar instrumental stuff, there are some not-so traditional things to smile about, like the slow, whimsically sad music box-sounding keys, and some weird delay effects on everything else. Through it all, there is a good melody, and even a little lower-tuned guitar. “Little Green Man” could be Danielson meets Don’t Know. To order, send $7.50 to: Casey Patrick Moore, 1 Valleywood Ct, Timonium MD 21093 (BVM)

JORDAN’S CREED Remember Keith Partridge? Well, the up-up, nice-guy rock vocals, in a few of these songs remind me of Bonnaducci’s TV brother. Still other vocal parts are more soulful sounding. “Three” has an awesome guitar sound, but the lyrics basically preach to the choir. On the other hand, you’ve got some great rock & roll praise & worship here. For ordering info, write: 11674 Baptist Church Rd, St Louis MO 63128 (BVM)

BEAM The Dutch import has sufficient melody to draw in the casual listener, enough praise & worship to direct that listener to the father, and enough cool instrumentation to make it all sound great. Most notable is “Lips to the Bowl,” which is more relevant than most of what you’ll hear on the radio, and just about as good as stuff on secular radio. For info, write: GMI Music Partners, PO Box 420, 6900 AK Zevenaar, The Netherlands (BVM)

JAGGED DOCTRINE Here’s some slightly metal-oriented industrial, a sharp contrast from all the ambient and darkwave stuff we’ve received recently. I’m into the grooves and guitar sounds, but it sounds as if the overall muddy production and songwriting are somewhat lacking. For ordering info, write: G. Baker, 5824 Lake Circle Dr, Fairfield OH 45014 (BVM)

ABOUT A DAY Formerly known as Circadian Rhythm, these guys draw on a huge variety of influences from classic rock to Motown, to metal, and several forms of modern rock. The vocals here sound very pro, instrumentation a little typical, but on the other hand, very accessible, with the help of decent songwriting. For info, write: 4 Perdale Ct, Baltimore MD 21236 (BVM)

VARIOUS Youth for Christ Benefit CD Here are some cool bands from Palm Beach County, Florida, playing to support a worthy cause. Vinyl is first up, playing their two songs of groovy, emotive rock & roll, and then, Screwtape, with a cool name and three tracks of ultra-funky punk rock. An even cooler name would be tagged onto the mellow and uncluttered distortion of Double Stack Scooby, with their songs “Recent Recluse” and “Clean.” Messy production pervades all three songs by 24 Elders, but this dirty punk rock is decent, making me think they could do well with some thoughtful planning in the studio. Then there are the sometimes Poor Old Lu-like, sometimes classic rock, sounds of Blue Sky Saturday and Freeway 7’s interesting, emotive pieces. Pretty cool indie comp. To order, send $10 to: Youth for Christ, PO Box 2863, West Palm Beach FL 33402 (BVM)

VÖLLIG HEILIG Still a fan of bands like Deliverance and Sacred Warrior? This Brazilian classic metal may be for you. Taking the best qualities of the afore mentioned bands’ singers (Brown and Parra, respectively), and putting with it some of the guitar stylings that brought about the popularity of Christian metal a decade ago, Völlig Heilig should appeal to such fans. For inquiries about this five-song CD, write: Cx. Postal - Cep 86001-970, Londrina - Paraná, Brazil (BVM)

PICKLES NEVER SHINE Whoa... This is screamin’ heavy punk rock in the genre of Ninety Pound Wuss and/or Spudgun. The second song starts as a forlorn 50’s instrumental melody that I just can’t put my stylistically ignorant finger on (but you’ll recognize it when you hear it). The song it leads into is a cool melodic punk with tight rhythms and good BGV’s, even utilizing some metal leads. For info, write: 2282 Lee Lawrng Rd, Lincolnton NC 28092 (BVM)

VARIOUS Moving Vomit Also known as Ripped Heart Comp, Volume 2, this low-budget indie comp has got some pretty decent bands on it, the two most recognized being Pauper’s Field and Deluxetone Rockets. Dead Ostrich is a cool band, sort of quirky punk rock with fun, down-to-earth ways of sharing their feelings. Nester’s Bad Habit deserves to be on this tape, and many more comps, with their fast, tight, energetic ska, reminding me of Five Iron Frenzy. Other cool bands turned out to be The Armored Trucks and Crock Pot Oatmeal, among others. For info, write: Bryan Hampton, 714 Fifth, #6, Bay City MI 48708 (BVM)

THE CALM Here’s a well-done arena rock tape, with female vocals, courtesy of the strong lungs of Ellyn Bussey. All songs are of the rock & roll variety, with plenty of PJ Bussey leads, and a truly upfront, thumping bass. To order, send $9 (CD) or $7 (k) to: Robert Bussey, 9262 George St, Manassas VA 20110 (BVM)

CASTING PEARLS Hmmm, this tape is but a taste of a full-length coming in September, and I can’t wait to hear. This cool, uplifting pop/rock could definitely fit the bill of a modern answer to Idle Cure, Phil Keaggy, and the vocals even remind me a little of Stephen Murray (Curious Fools). For info, write: 1744 L St, Apt. 2-D, Lincoln NE 68508 (BVM)

REVEAL Though Reveal may sound like the name of a hardcore band, it’s actually more of a commercial modern rock, dripping with semi-grimy emotive crooning. Some of this could almost be blues, and with, perhaps, a more raucous Peter Furler vocal style. Other aspects could remind one of a Collective Soul or others in the genre. For ordering info, write: Smart Records, PO Box 1573, Lancaster PA 17608 (BVM)

TOURNIQUET Seventy-three minutes in its entirety, this live concert video is way cool, despite poor sound quality at times. It’s also new bassist Vince Dennis’ introduction to Tournifans everywhere. The highlight: the encore performance of “A Dog’s Breakfast.” Added bonus: The 2:58 version of the “Crawl to China” concept video. Even though Diadem could’ve made this top-notch with some backing on the label’s part, this tape is a must-see if you’ve never seen Tourniquet live, or if you have seen ‘em, and want a great momento of that experience. To order, send check, m.o., or credit card info in the amount of $20 + $3 postage ($6 postage outside US/Canada) to: Tourniquet, PO Box 3427, Santa Monica CA 90408 (CO)


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