|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2003/2011||Artist Website: Bride|
|Tracks: 17||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 70:38|
This Is It was the first Bride album in a very long time to sound like, well, a classic Bride album. If in doubt then take a close look at the group’s musical journey up to the albums 2003 release, encompassing the acoustic rock of Drop (1995), the modern rock of The Jesus Experience (1997), the joining of acoustic and modern that is Oddities (1999) and “rap-core” of Fistful Of Bees (2001). By the turn of the century fans were clamoring - do I dare say demanding? - that Bride “return to its roots” or go “old school” and record an album of straightforward hard rock hearkening back to its early nineties heyday.
I cannot help but think this is what Bride accomplished on This Is It: Not following the latest “trend” or attempting to sound “modern” or “current” but rather being true to themselves and creating a quality work in the process. The end result is a blues based hard rocking throwback that will delight those who embrace albums such as Kinetic Faith (1991), Snakes In The Playground (1992) and Scarecrow Messiah (1994). But it was necessary that Bride first get its licks and chops up to speed, so the group entered the studio in early 2003 and recorded a four song demo entitled, appropriately, Raw. The thirteen songs encompassing This Is It followed later in the year.
Now, when you have an album featuring such a high volume of material, it is expected you are going to get not only your share of variety but quality as well. That being said, This Is It proves remarkably consistent in that while some songs are better than others, there is nothing I skip over either. And when factoring in the Raw demo, one has to commend Bride for being so prolific in terms of its songwriting at this point in its career.
And yes, the album does deliver its share of variety, starting with the immediate catchy hooks of “Blow It All Away” but also including the groove based sounds of “Drop D” and “Universe”. “Head Lookin’ For A Bullet”, “More Than Human” and “Short Time In The Grave” represent Bride at its heaviest while the ballad “White Elephant”, in contracts, heads in the calmer direction. “Microphone” and “Revolution” bring some interesting time and tempo changes and “Best I Expect To Do” a high energy focus.
I cannot say enough good things about guitarist Troy Thompson. This Is It finds him delivering perhaps the finest performance of his career, applying forthright rhythm guitar in needed amounts but also decorating things with his blues driven soloing abilities. If anything, the guy sounds completely at ease in the studio - in his natural element if you will - in that you can almost feel the passion pouring from his playing.
Front man Dale Thompson has not lost anything over the years. If I were to invite a comparison, he has done away with much of the falsettos and high pitched flavorings of the bands earlier days (although he is still more than capable of letting lose with a good old fashioned scream!) and adopted a more even approach that trends towards the gritty, raspy and blues edged side of things. In other words, he aligns perfectly with the musical happenings at hand.
Solid support can be found in the rhythm section of drummer Michael Loy and bassist Lawrence Bishop.
The original version of This Is It was held back by thin and muddy - almost demo-ish - production values. A re-issue on Retroactive Records in 2006 improved things, somewhat.
Early 2011 finds This Is It re-issued a third time, again on Retroactive but re-mastered and with new album artwork and the four songs from the Raw demo as bonus tracks. The re-mastering allows the album to literally come to life with the all around cleaner and more transparent sound. The bass now stands out as it should and aligns with an even joining of rhythm and lead guitar. Drums bring more presence as well. The re-issue comes highly recommended as a result, particularly if you were disappointed with the production to the original.
Track By Track
Bride proves it is back in no uncertain terms on “Blow It All Away”, a rousing rocker standing out with the catchy hook in its chorus and front to back unremitting impetus. Troy stretches with an inspired run of lead guitar. Lyric snippet:
I have a gun, and I won't run
When two worlds collide on the edge of time
Once I was a man with lost identity
Now I lift up the Christ that lives in me
Maybe this is heaven, I don't know
Was it really me that you loved the most?
Did I make you cry I won't compromise?
When the New World comes, like the rising of the sun
A more upbeat heading is taken on “To The Sky”. With a hard charging rhythm guitar leading the way, the song snarls its distance in joining some unbroken screams from Dale with the ominous maelstrom that is its instrumental section.
“More Than Human” is a bottom heavy monster. Yes, the song might come across plodding with its crunch heavy emphasis but is put over the top by the swarthy flavorings to its unflinching chorus. More clutch soloing from Troy.
The album kicks into high gear for “Drop D”, a groove focused piece highlighted its length by tasty blues driven licks and chops in abundance. The chorus delivers a ton of bite, as does the concentrated rhythm section performance.
“Head Lookin’ For A Bullet”, of the controversial song title, finds Bride in top form. Aggressive, focused and charged, the song proves no-nonsense in capacity with its searing atmosphere and excess of angst-laden attitude. Lyric snippet:
This deceptive place lies and politics
I've been on the edge agitation has set in
I see the trouble is coming again
Minds of wrath are rising within
When the worlds were framed
I was standing there
The things that are seen were not made
Of things which do appear
In the desert of my mind in the in-part realm of time
At the Place of the Skull count all my bones
“Best I Expect To Do” brings front to back up-tempo proclivity. The pace here is incessant, as a ton of swagger is reinforced along with an infectious energy that will have you returning time and again.
You will occasionally encounter a song in which the wit and edge to its lyrics overshadow the music. And such is what we have in “Evil Genius”, a “musical letter” written by Dale to his “critics, cynics and reviewers (like me)”:
To All my critics the cynics who want me want to go away
What keeps me going why don't I quit?
I'm not a looser like you a reviewer like you
A liar or a hypocrite like you
I'm not a frustrated beaten musician like you
I would rather be a Has Been than a Never Was
The public is funny They love U One minute
In the Same breath, they hate you your old news
Then they beg you to play old school
Then they want it back like it was / what to do?
You wouldn't come to me when you had a problem with me
You took it to the press, like all the rest To the promoters, my manager
Even my mom, You created a mess
Not that the song is bad musically, it is actually a solid heavy hitter upholding the albums consistency (so far seven songs in a row).
“Revolution” represents peak Bride songwriting skills. The song brings some back-and-forth-and-back-again tempo changes, ranging from ethereal moments upheld by a punchy bass line and others in which and all out metal rhythm guitar prevails. Great hook as well. Lyric snippet:
The cross is the door, You are the promise
Every thought is captivated
Bringing obedience and revelation
Appearing in us for every eye to see
Transformation and Resurrection
Free from death hell and the grave
Watch me wade the flames of fire
I will suffer for your sake
“Barren River Blues” is a throwback to “Saltriver Shuffle” (from Snakes In The Playground) in that it features dialogue between Dale and Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters) with some bluesy guitar and harmonica in the background.
“Microphone” also features some twists and turns, maneuvering the tumultuous yearnings of its verses - slow, poignant and moody - only to abruptly pick up in pace upon procuring quite the raucous chorus. An extended instrumental interlude finds Troy at his best. Lyric snippet:
The truth, the hurt, the Spirit, the Word
The Voice, the choice, who will you serve
The Life, the Blood, the tree the Love
I've paid my dues, below and above
The race, the prize, the in outside
The fire, the crier, the flames expire
Abounding in hope the anchor my soul
Jesus the Christ, All enter the light
“Short Time In The Grave” starts to a throaty growl from Dale before taking off in full force. The song proves the albums heaviest the rest of the way, upheld by a full on metal guitar assault and the all out aggressiveness of its chorus.
“Universe” starts to a boisterous instrumental joining of guitar and drums prior to decelerating to the pronounced bass line carrying its verses. Exploding in tempo, the song moves on to the groove driven proclivity that is its chorus. The end result is a wild five minute ride of contrasts and changeovers.
Closing things out is the albums lone ballad, “White Elephant”. No, it might not be Bride’s best ballad - that title is reserved for “Downward” from Tsar Bomba - but it comes close with its rich acoustic flavorings and pronounced emotional melody. Lyric snippet:
You're the reason I believe
As long as I live
You are just like me
Here alone trying to think
Wondering what went wrong
You are just like me
Do you hate me as much as I love you?
As for the Raw demo, it is aptly entitled because it sounds, well, on the raw side of things. Of its four songs, two - “Blow It All Away” and “Bring Me Down” (under the title “Drop D”) - appear on This Is It. The remaining two include bass heavy rocker “Is This The Now” and mid-paced flavorings of the catchy “Burning Love”. Both bring the same high quality as the better This Is It material.
This Is It represents a solid comeback from Bride, who had strayed from the metal and hard rock of its earlier days in the years leading up to its release. Musically, it finds the group still in its prime from both a songwriting and musicianship standpoint. Any misgivings with the production to the original are more than made up for as a result of the quality re-mastering to the 2011 re-issue. Get this.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Blow It All Away" (4:29), "To The Sky" (4:12), "More Than Human" (3:53), "Drop D" (3:34), "Head Lookin’ For A Bullet" 4:06), "Best I Expect To Do" (3:23), "Evil Geniuses" (4:38), "Revolution" (4:46), "Barren River Blues" (1:46), "Microphone" (4:39), "Short Time In The Grave" (3:47), "Universe" (4:59), "White Elephant" (4:22)
Dale Thompson – Lead Vocals
Troy Thompson – Guitars, Sitar, Cello & Violin
Lawrence Bishop – Bass
Michael Loy – Drums & Percussion
Greg Martin - Guitars