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JFH Music Review


Whitecross, 'Fear No Evil'
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Whitecross
Fear No Evil



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock
Album length: 11 tracks
Street Date: March 22, 2024


READER RATING:   


In the past decade, there's been a resurgence of Christian rock and metal bands from the late '80s/early '90s reforming and releasing new music. Stryper ultimately paved the trail for that, but many others have followed in their wake. Among them is one of the standout vets from the early '90s scene: Whitecross. Originally formed in 1985 by singer Scott Wenzel and guitarist Rex Carroll, they petered out in the mid-90s, only to come back in 2000 at Cornerstone. In 2005, they re-recorded their self-titled debut and released it as Nineteen Eighty Seven. After that, no new releases came other than a tour or concert here and there. In 2020, however, Wenzel was replaced by David Roberts on vocals and the group finally seemed ready to produce new music. It took a while after that, but now the fruit of several years of labor is ready to bloom into the world: Fear No Evil.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Whitecross has never sounded better than on this record. The production is loud and crisp while the band is playing like it's still 1990. Rex Carroll's guitar work has not dulled with age; in fact, it's grown more intense. In many ways, Fear No Evil feels like Carroll flexing his muscles on the guitar, as it is the central instrument on the album and often even overpowers the vocals. Carroll attacks with crunchy riffs and fiery solos, and makes the record worth the price of admission. That's not to say that drummer Michael Feighan or bassist Benny Ramos don't add their own flair, but this is the guitar's show. However, this album isn't simply a string of loud, driving rock songs. There are surprising twists and turns along the way, like the mandolin-led "Blind Man" or "Wishing Well" opening with a string section and orchestra. As for Roberts' vocal performance, he brings his all to the project with a nice, full raspy voice. He also gets plenty of opportunities to show off his range, as well as his Spanish, on "Saints of Hollywood".

As far as the messaging of Fear No Evil goes, it comes off as an evolving theme. The opening tracks ("The Way We Rock", "Lion of Judah", and even the instrumental "Jackhammer") point the listener to the supremacy of Christ. Then the next string of tracks ("Man in the Mirror" and "Blind Man") delve into the type of person who needs Jesus, with the title track acting as a resting in the sufficiency of our Savior. From there, "29,000," "Saints of Hollywood," and "Vendetta" focus on our transitory life and how we spend our days (and how we should spend them). "Wishing Well" and "Further On" close out the album on a more emotional note. This constantly evolving message helps keep the album from feeling redundant. That said, though, the lyrics often feel cliché or trite ("The Way We Rock" is a good example). The poetry here is in the music, not the lyrics, and the music often smoothes over this speed bump.

Some might think it unnecessary that these classic bands keep coming back and releasing new music. Fans of these groups, however, would beg to differ. Often, the music these bands release is better than what came before (or at least reaches the same standard). Whitecross has achieved that with Fear No Evil. Fans may debate where the album ranks overall in the band's discography, but no one can argue that it's a quality release and one of the best rock albums released so far this year. Here's to hoping that this new "Whitecross 2.0" phase produces more new music in the years to come.

- Review date: 3/19/24, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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. Record Label: Dark Star Records
. Album length: 11 tracks
. Street Date: March 22, 2024
. Buy It: integralmerchservices.com

  1. The Way We Rock (4:04)
  2. Lion of Judah (5:05)
  3. Jackhammer (1:19)
  4. Man in the Mirror (4:42)
  5. Blind Man (4:54)
  6. Fear No Evil (4:48)
  7. 29,000 (4:11)
  8. Saints of Hollywood (3:44)
  9. Vendetta (4:40)
  10. Wishing Well ( 5:11)
  11. Further On (2:05)

 



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