Hailing from Switzerland, Rainforce is a Christian hard rock band founded by guitarist and songwriter Andy La Morte (Pylon, Disobedience, Thankful Heart) with Matt Brand (Pylon) on bass and co-producer, Benjamin Mann (Power of God) on drums, and Jordan Cutajar (Nomad Son, et al) on vocals. Their debut album drops this month on the US label, Roxx Records.
Back in the Eighties, I was heavily involved in the contemporary Christian music (CCM) scene when it was ascending in popularity. While I don't listen to much of it anymore, I do remember some characteristics of the early music and movement. Perhaps the most interesting, if not disturbing, thing about CCM movement was its tendency to copy the sound of a secular band, rather than to pioneer something new. (A good example is a band called XSinner which, I kid you not, sounded exactly like AC/DC.) This bias mimic had the effect of creating several side effects: a singular sustainable Christian ghetto market for the music, an often watered down unrecognizable Gospel message, and generally substandard cookie cutter music. All these things had the sum result of leading to disdain and disinterest from the secular world, the very people the bands wanted to reach.
That little bit of history was said to say this. Rainforce is basically working the same angle. Musically, Rainforce sounds like their Swiss brethren Krokus, maybe with a dash of AC/DC for good measure. I was never a big fan of Krokus back in the day. Honestly, I didn't care much for the Rainforce sound or this album. The hard rock is rather generic and derivative, even kind of boring at times, and vocalist Jordan Cutajar sings like he's angry, angry with a snarl like a pissed off Bon Scott. Additionally, like the many of those Eighties CCM bands, neither Jesus nor the Gospel is clearly presented, that I could discern. I know the "rock" within the song My Rock probably means either God or Jesus, but only because I'm a Christian. For the unbeliever, well, he may think the songwriter is talking about his wife, girlfriend, or pet rock.
But enough of the negative, there are some high points here. One, the production is superb, nearly pristine. When I can hear the strength of the bass line in most every song, I am indeed impressed. Two, even though I found the songs lackluster, the core musicians in the band are quite talented, playing very well. Also, Rainforce got some significant help from some high powered CCM veterans, including including Whitecross guitarist Rex Carroll, Barren Cross bassist Jim La Verde, X-Sinner singer Rex Scott, and Canadian singer Kevin Wright formerly of Jacob's Dream. Yet, to these ears, all these good things were not enough to make me want to listen to Lion's Den again. Honorable mention to the songs Desert Sand and Shine A Light.
Musically, Christian hard rock band Rainforce sounds like their Swiss brethren Krokus, maybe with a dash of AC/DC for good measure. I was never a big fan of Krokus back in the day. And I really didn't enjoy this album all that much.
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