Music Review: 5IN1 – Sugar Free Gospel

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5IN1 - Sugar Free Gospel5IN1
Sugar Free Gospel
Independent
2006

After the opening track (a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer over an ambient background), and a quick sample from the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, 5in1’s Sugar Free Gospel delves into an infectious mix of sample-heavy techno and electronica that, for an independently produced release, is of surprisingly high quality. Samples are taken from various sermons, movies and television shows, which accentuate the theme of humanity’s need for redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. Favorite cuts include “Kinda Scary, Hu?”, “Fine Water”, “Pardon The Stumble” (despite the DC Talk sample), “Destruction”, and the first untitled cut that repeats the word “Repent”.

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Music Review: 7 HORNS 7 EYES – 7 Horns 7 Eyes

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7 HORNS 7 EYES - 7 Horns 7 Eyes

7 HORNS 7 EYES
7 Horns 7 Eyes
Independent
2007

Consisting of two sets of brothers and a guitarist that’s not related to any of the other four dudes, and taking their moniker from a reference to Revelation 5:6, this Seattle, WA band self-released this six-song EP in 2007. For a self-released project, I must say I am rather impressed at the clean and tight production on here; meaning this could have been a label-financed recording, it coulda fooled me. The music is of the modern extreme metal variety, falling in with bands like Demon Hunter, Lamb Of God and War Of Ages. The metal is brutal, down tuned and heavy, with very little in way of leads. The vocals are shared, with Kyle Wood handling the tough-guy death vox, while guitarist Aaron Smith handles the clean emo vox. And that’s what keeps me from really, really liking this release. I’m not a big fan of that kind of metal; my motto is “get yer emo out of my METAL!” Well, it would be if I actually had a motto to speak of. Regardless, this self-titled EP from 7 Horns 7 Eyes is a good start for the boys. The lyrics are very bold and upfront in their faith in Christ Jesus, I like that. Otherwise, this is a 6-song collection of melodic death metal / metalcore that’s heavy and…that’s about it. Not bad, but then again nothing too memorable. Here’s to bigger things for the guys in the future…

Music Review: The 7 METHOD – Roses Like Razorblades

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7 method - roses like razorblades

The 7 METHOD
Roses Like Razorblades
MD Records
2005

As a long-time METAL-head, I usually find myself never knowing exactly how to feel with bands that kind of flirt with being firmly rooted in hard rock, but flirting greatly with METAL to the point where you’re not sure whether or not you want to like them or brush them off as trendy not-METAL.  It’s like one of those peanut butter and chocolate flavored Power Bars, where you absolutely love the flavor combination, but in this form there’s something that makes you not really like it as much as you should.

And yes, this is the first Power Bar reference in any of my reviews.  This is a momentous occasion, really.  But, getting my train of thought back on the tracks, here…

Take The 7 Method, for example.  From the opening of the first track off of Roses Like Razorblades, it’s very much evident that, from the heaviness involved, we’re in for a nice heavy and possibly brutal listening treat.  Then, when we’re lulled into a false sense of security with the heavy guitar hook and the heavy rhythms that we all know and love, in kicks the melodic, radio friendly emo drenched vocals and pop sensibilities, coning overtly introspective lyrics, and that’s when it hits you: You are now listening to an album of the kind of modern hard rock that most of the Hot Topic mall kids listen to when they want to appear heavy and edgy, but still want to be emo and weepy.  You know, the kind that will appeal to those who still squee over bands like Linkin Park, Staind, and…um, other bands like that.  Mostly guitar driven hard rock with some metal sensibilities, yes, but with a heavy dose of what I don’t like.

And I just thought of another food analogy, here:  Roses Like Razorblades is a lot like an Almond Joy.  It has the stuff I do like – the chocolate and the almonds – but it’s ruined for me by the overabundance of coconut.  Can’t stand coconut.  And just like my abhorrence of this kind of radio-friendly pseudo-METAL, I do realize that there are many out there who absolutely love this kind of thing.  That’s fine.  And to its credit, Roses Like Razorblades is a well-produced album, and the songs do stay on the heavier side of things.  Matter of fact, I would say The 7 Method has a much better sound than a lot of others playing stuff like this.  Kind of like the wimpier younger brother of Demon Hunter, or something.  But overall, this is not really my thing, but it is one of the better-sounding albums if you happen to be into that kind of thing.  By all means, have at it.

Music Review: The 77s – Eighty Eight

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77s - 88

The 77s
Eighty Eight
Brainstorm Artists, Intl.
1991

It was this CD, along with Drowning With Land In Sight, that gave me my first taste of the band The 77s. Recorded live at the Warehouse in Sacramento, California on March 12, 1988 (hence the album’s title), 88 is a really great live album, capturing the energy of the band, translating their songs very well in the live setting.

Kicking things off with the rollicking blues number, “Perfect Blues”, Roe and company prove themselves very competent musicians. The bluesy rhythms, the subdued and ethereal guitar work, song structures and Mike Roe’s vocals playful yet haunting mix together beautifully on numbers like “I Can’t Get Over It”, “Mary And The Baby Elvis”, “The Lust The Flesh The Eyes And The Pride Of Life, the Yardbirds cover of “Over Under Sideways Down”, “You Don’t Scare Me” and “I Could Laugh”. At its best, 88 shows the band in a vibe that recalls The Doors in their prime.

In 2000, the label Fools Of The World re-released 88 with a second disc of live material entitled When Numbers Get Serious. I only have the original BAI release, but believe me when I say that, if you can only find the one disc, it’s very well worth having. Excellent live album…

Music Review: The 77s – A Golden Field Of Radioactive Crows

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77s - A Golden Field Of Radioactive

The 77s
A Golden Field Of Radioactive Crows
Fools Of The World
2001

For their last album (and by “last”, I mean the latest studio offering, not their final work…it’s just been an extended time between albums, there), Mike Rowe and company crafted a collection of what they do best — catchy, quirky alternative pop rock drenched in blues and 60s retro sounds. Vintage 77s, very well-played and well-produced, showcasing both their musical prowess and studio skills. The 77s being one of the very few alternative / modern rock bands I listen to and enjoy from time to time, considering I make no bones about being more of an extreme metal / goth / industrial freak, that should tell you something. Fans of Matthew Sweet, REM and classic college rock in general should check this gem out…

Music Review: The 77s – Ping Pong Over The Abyss

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77s - Ping Pong Over The Abyss

The 77s
Ping Pong Over The Abyss
Exit Studios
1983

The 77s very first album is mostly New Wave in the sound, with the exception of a couple of songs: “Ping Pong Over The Abyss”, which is more straight-forward guitar-driven rock; “Time Is Slipping Away”, which sound more like the alt. rock sound that they would be much more known for on future albums like Pray Naked and Drowning With Land In Sight; and the album closer, “Denomination Blues (That’s All)”, which is a very somber and piano-driven number, which reminds me a bit like Bruce Hornsby or the Eagles in its delivery. Very nice. Being a fan of later-day 77s, I consider these last three the strongest on the album. Not that the rest of the songs are slouches — the quirky New Wave rock is infectious, and the lyrics are profound indeed. Not a bad listen; I just happen to like the end of the album more…

Music Review: The 77s – The 77s

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77s - The 77s

The 77s
The 77s
Island
1987

Christian iconic troubadour Mike Roe’s flagship band, The 77s, started life as a new wave band, that gradually progressed to alternative rock. They were introduced to me by a friend from high school and college back in the early 90s, and like most bands and artists I enjoy that don’t fall under the METAL catch-all category, they had to grow on me over time.

What I enjoy about The 77s music is both the musicianship and the lyrical prose. While the tag “alternative” doesn’t do the band justice, it’s a good starting reference to the music. On this, the self-titled album, there is a bit of the old new wave flavor in one or two songs (especially on “Don’t Say Goodbye”), but this album is more about the acoustic-driven songs with more than just a bit of blues roots showing. This album contains much of their classic live staples, and I would wager that nearly all of the songs contained are fan favorites: album opener “Do It For Love”, “Can’t Get Over It”, “What Was In That Letter”, “Pearls Before Swine”, the college radio hit “The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes & The Pride Of Life”, and my personal favorite, the moody “I Could Laugh”. Lyrically, I’m drawn to the way that the songs are very introspective and personal without getting bitter. “Can’t Get Over It” and “I Could Laugh” are perfect examples.

For those who got into alternative music in the 90s and beyond, and would like a taste of what came before, or if you’re just into great musicianship with well-written lyrics, this album comes highly recommended…

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