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Reviews by Luke,

Professional Human

Christian Music Fails: A Band Is Not A Brand

4 min read – March 15, 2015

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The once great Audio Adrenaline

So you have that favourite band and they’ve got a new record or single and you are scratching your head thinking ‘Is this really them?’. Well that is something that has happened to me on several occasions the past few years. This isn’t about trashing bands for trying a new sound, it’s about bands forgetting their roots and conforming to stereo typical sounds which enables them to reach a very bland and boring audience rather than being progressive. Why do bands forget that album that drew fans to them?

I love when bands experiment and try new things. I like it when they push the boundaries and try to reach higher. That’s what I want in a good band. But I’m left shocked when talented bands with  unique sounds suddenly conform to the most typical sound and all originality that once was is lost.

I grew up listening to a bunch of ‘Christian’ bands. It’s a term I hate to use because it is totally senseless. There is no such thing as Christian Music or Non-Christian, but this isn’t a theological debate at the moment. But what I find is bands that I grew up listening to tend to suck the older they get. What I mean by suck is they lose their sound and replicate a particular style. Why is this?

For examples sake it’s important you listen to Relentless by Hillsong United – A famous Rock-Worship band before we get started.

Ya, not a bad song, right. It works for them and what their goal is. Now let’s get started.

Hawk Nelson

Let’s look at One Thing I Have Left – This song is a great punk-rock anthem. It’s the kind of track that produces that high level energy at live shows. It’s got a fun catchy chorus like any good punk song should have. It’s got a great outro and is just a big fun song. Being the first track it gives you an idea of what to expect for the rest of the album and what you’d expect from other albums.

Now new Hawk Nelson has changed members and has a new lead and they produced new tracks called Diamonds and Drops in the Ocean. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate these new tracks but this band is no longer the fun energetic punk rock band. They sounds like a Hillsong knock-off. See what I wanted you to listen above?

Sanctus Real

Sanctus Real burst on the scene in the early 2000s with a great album called Say it Loud. Their followup Fight the Tide took their power-rock-sound to the next level. Lyrically and musically it was great. Alone is one of the best songs on the album and sums up what the band was like.

You get what I mean, that driving rock ’n roll sound. This song lets you know what this band is going to be about and your expectation are set.

After this album they released Face of Love which was a different album. More ballads than anything else. That was okay, like I said, happy for bands to try new things. Then all subsequent all albums after erased all traces of this once passionate rock band in favour of a mellow generic rock-worship sound. Even lyrically they lost their edge and churned out the same stuff you hear on a Hillsong album. Listen at Run – Where is the fun rock band?

Audio Adrenaline

Probably the most tragic case in music history. Audio Adrenaline (the original band) was and will always be my favourite band. They were brilliant. No two albums sounded the same. The first record in the early 1990s was a rock-rap album, the second was more rock, their third Bloom had a strong 1970s rock vibe. Some Kind of Zombie was their mid-90’s grunge album. WorldWide was a classic rock album and Until My Heart Caves In was in the vein of WorldWide but was more indie in it’s approach both musically and lyrically. Sadly that was the final album the band released because the lead singer had major vocal issues. Clap Your Hands is a great track to give you an idea of what their sound was like.

In 2012 the band made a comeback; with only one returning member from the original band and the lead was taken by Kevin Max of DC Talk fame. While his vocals are great and his solo sound is equally great the new Audio A was kind of a let down but had potential. Their first track He Moves You Move felt cheesy and boring however Answer had a sound I could get into, but still there was little familiarity with the band’s reincarnation. Well a few years later, before the new band could even release their second album, every member was replaced and is now fronted by Stellar Kart’s Adam Agee – and with that comes another sound change. Audio Adrenaline 3.0 released a new single Love Was Strong.

Did you listen? It is yet another Hillsong knock off. I never thought I’d see the day when I would say ‘I couldn’t care less about an AudioA album’ but that day has come. This is also a case where the ‘brand’ doesn’t sell it’s the band that sells. I expect AudioA and this isn’t them.

The point I’m trying to make is it’s a very generic sound. Lyrically and musically it’s so same-y! In fact all three latter tracks from each band I used as examples sound like they could be from the same band. It’s a disappointment to see these bands who once had such talent and influence become a producer that regurgitates the same bland rock-worship sound that they were in no way known for. In Audio Adrenaline and Hawk Nelson’s sake the bands are nothing more than brands now, but when an established band drastically changes it’s not the same band anymore. In Sanctus Real’s case they did what so many other bands do and forgot their sound in favour of mediocre music that reaches a very limited audience.

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