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Fear No Evil



Legendary rock band Whitecross is back with their first album in two decades. With a new lead singer, does this release give us something to fear or something to drive our fears away?


No Elephants In This Room

Let's deal with the first issue, a new lead singer. When a band has such a distinctive vocalist as Whitecross did with Scott Wenzel, it is difficult for some fans to embrace someone new. This question continues to fill fan sites for classic rock bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow, and guess what? The band plays on. Do I love Rod Evans on the first three DP albums? Yes. Do I love Ian Gillan on the next four? Yes. Do I love David Coverdale on the next three? Yes. You get the idea, and they were all Deep Purple albums.


With David Roberts, Whitecross gets a voice that is tailor made for the kind of blues-based rock that Rex Carroll and Company dish out. His voice can be gritty when need be, rich and resonant when that is what is called for, and amazingly gentle when nothing else will do on a beautiful ballad. With Benny Ramos (bass) and Michael Feighan (drums) back to provide a rock solid foundation, this album and this incarnation of the band are not to be missed, so let's get into the music.


Nothing To Fear Here

The Way We Rock

This is the song that would have drained the batteries in my Walkman back in the day. Man! There is no better way to introduce the band and this album than with an anthem made for an audience to pump their fists to. "We are the warriors of Heaven's army," David sings, and these boys aren't taking any prisoners with a solid, '80s metal style rocker and the first of Rex's many great guitar solos. The mix on this is perfect, as you hear Benny's bass and Michael's drums come through strong and clear.


Lion of Judah

With your heart still beating from the opening number, you are pulled into the drum and guitar onslaught that opens the second song, and your fingers start flying in your own air guitar play along. Come on, now. "Lion of Judah?" Can you get a better rock title than that? The heavy drive of the music opens into a melodic bit just prior to the chorus, and once again we hear David's voice in its range and power. Here we begin to realize two things about this band. They produce killer music and are utterly unabashed in their Christian proclamation. From the blistering solo to the melodic chorus, you can easily imagine this having been an MTV favorite.


Jackhammer

This is the instrumental from Rex that you knew would be on the album. For my money, I say move over EVH and Yngwie and hold Rex's beverage.


Man in the Mirror

Oh, BABY, is this my kind of song! It's as bluesy as Whitesnake in the early days before their Geffen period. David can hold a note like nobody's business, Benny and Michael just put out a pounding rhythm section, and Rex doesn't disappoint with a solo that is genuinely different from each of his others. The lyrics are pure blues rock of a man confronting his demons. If there were any justice in the world, you would be hearing this song as Whitecross headlined at arenas.





Blind Man

Ah, finally, a break in the hard rock avalanche. The fifth track gives us a breathing space with a beautiful acoustic opening, and, if you can imagine something like this, David manages to bring both grit and gentleness to his vocals. The acoustic guitar is reminiscent of '70s ballads and perhaps even some folk, especially of the British variety. Yes, there is even a hint of Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore" here.


Fear No Evil

Another gentle intro with a hint of a Spanish influence similar to what we hear from Oz Fox on Stryper's recent Acousticyzed album takes us into the sixth song. This time, there is no grit with David's voice, only strong, pure, emotion. And then at the 1:17 mark, things go heavy and dark. A thunderous sound begins to grow, and suddenly the band is standing ten feet tall. We get a solid, powerful groove that fuels a song worthy of being the title track. And the guitar solo on this one...pure Rex!


29,000

Michael's drums kick this one off, and when Benny's bass and Rex's guitar come in, you have something that could have worked well on Fierce Heart's 2020 War For the World album. The challenge I have with this one is that the lyrics make me think too much. The number in the title refers to the average number of days in a person's life. Don't make the mistake I did and start calculating how many have already passed and how many likely remain. As with the other songs on this album, you can rock out with it, but if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you will take stock of your life and, hopefully, do more and better with it.


Saints of Hollywood

A song with such a great title needs a nasty rock groove to open it, and that's what we get here. And then....what's this? At just about the minute mark, we hear some Spanish and a delicate style before the song goes back to its stank-face-maximus groove. This pattern repeats a couple of more times, and either you will like it or you won't, but for me it shows the musical creativity and adventurousness of the band.


Vendetta

Whoever came up with the song titles on this ablum has a rock and metal soul. And while it is a rocker, to be sure, it is slow and dark, and David's vocal virtuosity runs from lush to raw. Without question, the blues-rock and metal of the '80s is not dead, and although it may not, sadly, sell out arenas and top the charts, it is being carried well into the 21st century by bands like Whitecross who are masters at what they do. This is one that would have been on heavy repeat on my Walkman. Rex's guitar is melodic and fierce, and Michael and Benny again are on the rhythm attack.


Wishing Well

Wait...what? An orchestral opening that sounds as if it should be part of a motion picture score? Fair enough, since this is a straight-up love song. David's vocals are as pure and evocative as you could wish, and the gorgeous rhythm that Michael puts behind everything...my goodness! I love that the band put this song on the album. As I said, the guys are bold in their Christian proclamation, but God gave us the ability to express and feel romantic love, and this song is a great reminder of that.


Further On

A bit of acoustic noodling from Rex opens the final song, which is a gorgeous, short little number that takes one back to The Beatles. It is beautiful closer to the album, brining you to a quiet, reflective state, but eager to hit play on the whole thing again.


Bottom Line

If you're a fan of Whitecross, check it out. It is fantastic, NEW music, and should be in your collection. If you want to know what blues rock, '80s metal, melodic metal, and power ballads can sound like with lyrics that are positive through and through, then have no fear and buy Fear No Evil to day.




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