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Various Artists - California Metal I / 1987

$120.00

01. Barren Cross - Deadlock

02. Deliverance - A Space Called You

03. Deliverance - Attack

04. Guardian - Marching On

05. Guardian - Spiritual Warfare

06. Hero - Sing It Out

07. Hero - I Surrender

08. Mastedon - Wasn't It Love?

09. Neon Cross - Son Of God

10. Neon Cross - I Need Your Love

From out of the LA club scene on the Hollywood Strip Neon Cross has been rocking the world with a message of love and redemption since the early 80s featuring lead guitarist Don Webster, singer David Raymond Reeves, bassist Scot Strickland and drummer Terry Russell.

Why oh why do Word (UK) insist on issuing LPs which are a couple of years old, especially when, in the case of Neon Cross, the band have split up. (It's particularly galling when we consider the UK has yet to see Sacred Warrior's "Rebellion" and Vengeance's marvellous "Human Sacrifice" - probably the two most important white metal LPs of recent years.)

What I am trying to say is that the Neon Cross album is a bit of a danker. It is difficult to put one's finger on where Neon Cross went wrong. Maybe it's because the songs are very samey. Possibly it's because the guitar playing is unimagina­tive. Or could it be because the drumming is so tediously basic. Neon Cross did have a good singer in the form of David Reeve who wenKon to form an excellent bluesy rock band called Trilogy, which I saw live in LA last summer.

David's voice sounds great in its low and middle registers, but in songs such as "We are The Children" and "Far Cry From Eden" his high-pitched vocals are down­right painful. "Heartbreaker" is a passable song because of the nice bridge in the middle, but the majority of the tracks plod along in a very basic metal style. Predictability is very much the order of the day here. This album is typical of where white metal is going sadly wrong. Neon Cross say many things which would be beneficial to the non-Christian listener, but as is the case with the majority of other white metal bands, they do not have the musical quality to back it up.

Neon Cross first turned up on the 1987 (patchy) showcase album 'California Metal' then had their first, eponimous, album released in 1988. Things weren't helped by the somewhat 'flat' vocals of David Raymond Reeves. Everyone, especially on this side of the pond, thought that was it. Silence ensued for the next six years. So that's the history. Then, late last year an ad in Heavens Metal announced a forthcoming new album. It has now arrived; and boy, is it a REALLY pleasant surprise.

They may have a release schedule similar to that of Boston or Def Leppard, but it has been well worth the wait. The line up has changed with two new guys joining, Don Webster and the aforementioned Mr Reeves. Troy Woody and David Starkey have helped give the sound a complete overhaul and David's vocals are a revelation. Like every other band they seem to have a few influences and it would help the uninitiated to name a few. I get The Brave, Gethsemane Rose and Bride coming through and also Megadeth and Extreme (circa 'Punchline').

There is depth and brutality; honesty and back to basics. It has the feel of an album recorded without too much technological intrusions hence holding on to all the power so much needed in this type of music; a 'live' feel album is becoming rare these days. Treasure it. Lyrically they don't stick to the 'Have-to-mention-Jesus-in-every-track- syndrome.

Yet there is no doubt the standpoint the band are taking. I normally like to quote a few lyrics to give a flavour, but titles like "Bitterness", "Videosmut", "Seasons Of Change" and "Prussian Blue" (look it up) may whet the appetite. One more thing, if "81" is autobiographical then we should all give thanks to God for his saving grace. For me this is 1995's album of the year, thus far.

History dates back to mid-eighties when friends Don Webster (guitars), Mitch Kent (bass) and Michael Betts (drums) were part of the same band while attending El Segundo High School in Southern California. Kent was the first of the three to become a Christian and played influential role in Webster and Betts making a decision for Christ. Vocalist David Raymond Reeves later rounded out the line up of subsequently formed Christian metal band.

Neon Cross recorded two excellent songs ("Son of God" and "I Need Your Love") for the California Metal that was released prior to their self titled album. This was my introduction to this band. These two tracks, however, were added to the M8 re-release. "Son of God" is actually my favorite Neon Cross song. This song can truly bring you to your knees in worship. For a complete review, see the compilation section.

Neon Cross proceeded to record a five song demo entitled Frontline Life prior to placing the tracks “I Need Your Love” and “Son Of God” on the California Metal compilation (1987). After Ed Ott replaced Mitch Kent on bass, Neon Cross recorded its self-titled Regency Records debut in 1988, Neon Cross broke up shortly thereafter only to reform in mid-nineties with bassist David Starkey. Three new tracks, “Buy My Record”, “Mystery Of Love” & “Dust To Dust”, were recorded for the Premium Cuts compilation (1994) while second full length album, Torn, was released on Rugged Records in 1995.

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