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APRIL 1, 2017

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Uncle NecRo’s TOP 100 CHRISTIAN ALBUMS FROM THE 90s, Part 2 (80-61)

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Hey everybody, I’m back now with Part 2 of the Top 100 Christian Albums from the 1990s. If you missed it, Part 1 is right here. Now, without further adeu, here are picks numbers 80 through 61:

chagall-guevara80 – Chagall Guevara (Chagall Guevara)
…that one time that Steve Taylor fronted an actual band that was pretty good, but nobody noticed because it was 1991 and they weren’t from Seattle. Bummer, that.

77s-pray-naked79 – Pray Naked (The 77s)
…as alternative music goes, this one’s pretty good, but let’s face it: any band that can make the American Evangelical communities flip their collective lids over a title that encourages the listener to come before God with no pretensions, transparent and vulnerable has a place in my collection, regardless of the genre.

aunt-bettys-aunt-bettys78 – Aunt Bettys (Aunt Bettys)
…speaking of artists that consistently manages to piss off the American Christian subculture without even trying to do so, I present you Michael Knott’s woefully underrated side project, Aunt Bettys. ‘Nuff said.

scaterd-few-sin-disease77 – Sin Disease (Scaterd-Few)
…sorry to say that I was a bit late in the game in appreciating this particular album. It’s a classic, yes, and one of those albums that was controversial for many reasons, but mostly because they weren’t safe like certain other so-called “Christian punk” bands at the time. Incidentally, “Kill The Sarx” is where I got the inspiration for my online persona, The NecRoSarX. Now you know.

holy-soldier-last-train76 – Last Train (Holy Soldier)
…a bit more bluesy, quite a bit more mature than the first released. Kind of like Cinderella’s second release after Night Songs. You get the idea. I hope.

fear-not-fear-not75 – Fear Not (Fear Not)
…what is essentially the former Blonde Vinyl band Love Life, given the ol’ Elefante slick production makeover. Big, bombastic 80s hair rock, and a guilty pleasure indeed.

scaterd-few-jawboneofanass74 – Jawbonofanass (Scaterd-Few)
…this may seem like blasphemy, but I actually prefer Jawboneofanass over Sin Disease. I don’t know why, other than it flows a bit better, maybe? Is that pretentious-sounding enough?

deitiphobia-clean73 – Clean (Deitiphobia)
…contrary to popular belief, there was an underground contingent of Christians producing industrial back in the 1980s, but they mostly didn’t get noticed until around the time Trent Reznor showed up. Or something like that. Anyway, this is a good album.

dead-artist-syndrome-devils-angels-saints72 – Devils, Angels & Saints (Dead Artist Syndrome)
…”gothic rock”, “post-punk”, “gloom rock”, whatever, sometimes you gotta throw this one on with the lights off and stare at the wall.

bride-drop71 – Drop (Bride)
…stylistically different than the previous two heavier releases, more of a throwback to the Kinetic Faith release yet more mature than that one.

dig-hay-zoose-magentamantalovetree70 – MagentaMantaLoveTree (Dig Hay Zoose)
…released back when the word “Alternative” was thrown around like a brand name, this release saw Dig Hay Zoose as the spiritual successors to scaterd-few. Too bad it was to be their final studio release.

deitiphobia-lo-fi-vs-sci-fi69 – Lo:Fi Vs. Sci:Fi (Deitiphobia)
…a electronic industrial sci-fi concept album. Enough said.

lsu-this-is-the-healing68 – This Is The Healing (L. S. U.)
…dark, introspective, with an underlying twisted sense of humor. Probably one of the first instances of discovering it was okay not to be a shiny-happy Christian.

dead-artist-syndrome-happy-hour67 – Happy Hour (Dead Artist Syndrome)
…this was sold in Christian bookstores. It started with a song called “Young Sexy & Dead” (sure, it was listed as “Y.S.D” on the CD, but still), and has another song referencing the Church body as a psychotic knife-wielding back-stabber. That’s called “irony”, folks. Delicious irony.

bride-kinetic-faith66 – Kinetic Faith (Bride)
…hard rock with a southern twinge, and a total 180 from the hair metal they played previously.

zao-the-splinter-shards-the-birth-of-separation65 – The Splinter Shards The Birth Of Separation (Zao)
…at the time of this release, good quality metal was hard to come by, especially in the so-called Christian market. This had to due until some came around.

crashdog-cashists-facists-other-fungus64 – Cashists, Fascists, & Other Fungus (Crashdog)
…one of my favorite punk albums, it has all the hallmarks: raw, crusty, and probably the first instance of outspoken Christians protesting the G. O. P.

12th-tribe-livin-in-babylon63 – Livin’ In Babylon (12th Tribe)
…Run DMC style rapping paired with some metal riffs provided by Jimmy P. Brown of Deliverance? Yes, please.

index62 – Blood (Red Sea)
…a collaboration between the guitarist from Fear Not and the vocalist from Die Happy, and it’s a monster of a bluesy metal rock album.

wedding-party-anthms61 – Anthems (Wedding Party)
…basically Saviour Machine with all the beautiful richness without all the unnecessary pretentiousness. And a better singer.

Music Review: UNDISH – Acta est Fabula

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undish - acta est fabula
Acta est Fabula
Massacre Records

This is a fantastic album of guitar- and keyboard-driven goth rock, dark and majestic, with dark male vocals and haunting female vocals. There are elements of doom, and a few underpinnings of metal throughout, giving the music a very rich taste. I must repent a bit, as I had this album for quite a while, as it was given to me to review for the old Dead ‘Zine before it disappeared, but never really got around to listening to it. Now that I have, the only complaint I have is that it’s a bit too short. A little over half-an-hour. It ended a bit too soon for me. I would definitely recommend this for my freaks who keep Saviour Machine and Wedding Party in their players. Highly recommended…

Music Review: WEDDING PARTY – Anthems

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wedding party - anthems

I remember catching Wedding Party’s set at Cornerstone 1999, and chatting with vocalist Sheri Watters before and after the show. Had I known it was going to be the final performance ever of the band, I probably would have savored the set more than I did.

While most have automatically compared Wedding Party to Saviour Machine: (and the comparisons are valid) from the powerful dramatic goth rock sound; to being released on MCM Records; to the album being produced by Eric Clayton, and SM keyboards Nathan Van Hala handling the electronic programming end. ‘Anthems’ is something special in its own right. There’s a great deal of depth and variety to this project that you mustn’t overlook.

Let’s begin with the title- ‘Anthems’. While it’s expected to think of your country’s national anthem, this isn’t a collection of such. Whipping out my dictionary (okay, okay, I just use I’m lazy. Sue me), an anthem is defined as “1. A sacred hymn or 2. a song of devotion or patriotism”. ‘Anthems’ is a collection of 12 songs of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication, extolling living a life for Jesus Christ in a dramatic goth rock opera style. Musically, Wedding Party has a depth that is simply breathtaking. The music on ‘Anthems’ range from hard goth-metal to industrial goth to acoustic/classical/ambient pieces, all done beautifully. The band crafts a masterpiece with guitars, drums, percussion, keyboards and piano, Nathan Van Hala’s orchestration and the centerpiece vocal duo of William and Sheri Watters. My favorite tracks are “War Memorial”, “Even You”, “Raven’s Warning”, “The Unknown God” and “No More Night”. Recommended for fans of Saviour Machine and Undish…

Music Review: SAVIOUR MACHINE – Legend, pt. 2

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saviour machine - legend part 2
Legend, pt. 2
MCM / Massacre

Part two in the proposed (and curiously long-time-coming) trilogy of Biblical end-time events that picks up where they left off from the previous disc. Musically, Legend Pt. II is a bit darker, as the storyline deals with the rise of the Antichrist and his reign on earth. The CD is 80 minutes long, with one song (“New World Order”) omitted for length. The lyrics for the song are included in the 30-page booklet, but the song is available on the Behold A Pale Horse maxi-single. That said, Legend pt. II is 80 minutes of classical orchestration, goth rock, industrial sampling, choral ensembles, and beautiful multiple layers of vocals by Eric Clayton, who sings his heart out. He goes from dramatic, soaring cries, anguished trepidation, to ominously deep spoken word, all used to good effect.

Lyrically, the storyline picks up with the emergence of the Antichrist. Legend pt. II follows the legacy of the False Prophet from the mark of the beast to the battle of Armageddon, to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and ends with the second fall of Satan.

Beautifully packaged in a black jewel case with green lettering, a 20-page booklet with lyrics, artwork and exhaustive Bible references, Legend pt. II continues the epic journey.

To be continued…eventually…

Music Review: SAVIOUR MACHINE – Legend, pt. 1

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saviour machine - legend part 1
Legend, pt. 1
MCM / Massacre

The concept piece to end all concept pieces starts here. For all ravenous fans of the legendary Saviour Machine, this is the beginning of the culmination of Eric Clayton’s overall vision, the logical end to the almost larger-than-life dramatic symphonic goth-rock band.

Legend pt. I, referred to as “the first part of the unofficial soundtrack to the end of the world”, is 77 minutes of rich, deep, symphonic goth, well researched Biblically and beautifully and poetically written. It comes packaged in a solid black jewel case with reflective red lettering, a 16-page booklet jam-packed with full lyrics, artwork and interactive Bible references.

The real treasure, though, is the music, which far outshines the packaging. The CD starts with “Overture”, a 5-minute symphonic piece. What follows is a seamless journey of orchestral arrangements, keyboards, programmed samples, dark synths, spoken word, choir ensembles, haunting piano, dark guitar riffs, middle eastern sounds, all complemented by Eric Clayton’s amazing dramatic vocals.

Lyrically, the subject matter is ripped straight from the Bible. From the beginning strains of the opening track to the chilling final track, “Legend I:II”, you’re taken through a musical pastiche that is breathtaking and engaging with a message that isn’t dumbed down for the CCM market. Legend pt. 1 is nothing short of epic.

To be continued…

Music Review: SAVIOUR MACHINE – Saviour Machine

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saviour machine - saviour machine
Saviour Machine
Intense / Massacre

Beautiful. Haunting. Dark. Compelling. Deep. Contemplative. Saviour Machine has been much more than the usual ear candy band. They are usually stuck under the all-encompassing “goth” label (or, if you’re in the typical Christian bookstore, you’ll probably find them under the “alternative” section), but their sound is best described as Pink Floyd, Mozart and Bauhaus meeting up with C.S. Lewis at the all-night waffle house at 3:00 a.m.

‘Saviour Machine’ is not, I repeat, not a CD you just pop in and press play. No, this requires listening time. Preferably in either a good stereo or quality headphones. At night. With the lights turned low. Although you could, I guess, pick out songs you like to hear (I’m usually drawn to “Carnival Of Souls”, “Legion”, “Killer” and “Jesus Christ”), ‘Saviour Machine’ is best taken in its entirety, as most concept albums are. Yes, it’s a concept album; though exactly what is left to the listener (one theory is that it’s the state of the world before the coming of Jesus. First or second coming is again up for debate).

‘Saviour Machine’ is for the deep, contemplative goths. Pop it in and enjoy. . .

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