Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Bride - Snakes In The Playground
   
Musical Style: Hard Rock Produced By: Plinky
Record Label: Star Song Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1992 Artist Website: Bride
Tracks: 12 Rating: 95%
Running Time: 46:31

Bride - Snakes In The Playground

Following the release of its groundbreaking 1991 effort Kinetic Faith, Bride - with the classic line up of Dale Thompson and Troy Thompson, Rick Foley and Jerry McBroom still intact – hit the road in support of the album, playing mostly club dates and a handful of Christian festivals.  The band did not get its big break, however, until it landed a role as the opening act for Stryper on its late 1991 tour of the East Coast and Midwest.  Playing mostly smaller to mid-sized venues, Bride performed with Stryper at such noteworthy locations as Derringers (Boston), The Canton Palace (Canton), The New Union (Sioux Falls), Canes Ballroom (Tulsa), The Back Door (Houston) before finishing the tour at Freeman Hall in San Antonio.  It is a well known fact, nevertheless, that once the tour was complete Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet departed the group in order to pursue a solo career.  When Dale called drummer Robert Sweet to confirm this, Robert – impressed with Dale’s performance throughout the tour – asked if he would be interested in the now open lead vocalist position.  Dale, of course, agreed to give the matter a great deal of thought in addition to doing two shows with Stryper at Knott’s Berry Farm.  Flying home from California following both shows, Dale was tempted with the offer, but, after giving the matter additional consideration, decided to refuse it.  The determining factor in his decision, actually, came about as a result of the way he saw God’s hand at work in both the songwriting and recording process of Bride’s forthcoming album Snakes In The Playground.  

Upon arriving home in Kentucky, Dale again got together with Troy, Rick and Jerry and began work on Snakes…, an excellent effort that would end up being the breakthrough album in the bands career.  Bride spent a great deal of time in pre-production fine tuning its material and eventually came up with two demo tapes of nine songs each.  All the hard work paid off, however, in that on Snakes… Bride successfully captured the all out raw energy of its live performance in that, when compared to Kinetic Faith, it moves in a rawer, heavier and more straightforward hard rock direction.  The album, for example, showcases a combination of slamming hard rockers (“Rattlesnake” & “Would You Die For Me”) and catchier and more up-tempo numbers (“Psychedelic Super Jesus” & “Don’t Use Me”) in addition to two that reflect an all out metal feel (“Fall Out” & “Dust Through A Fan”) and a ballad in "I Miss The Rain" that brings to mind “Sweet Louise”, the heartfelt number that closes Kinetic Faith

Dale Thompson continues to bring his trademark raspy and blues based lead vocal style to the project.  Tracks such as “Fallout” and “Would You Die For Me” find him stretching and displaying the full range to his voice, while the ballad “I Miss The Rain” reflects a quieter side to his delivery.  Troy Thompson more than holds his own on rhythm guitar – adding a mega-crunch to the bands sound in the process – and combines with guest musicians Dez Dickerson (Prince), Derek Jan (Novella) and Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters) for an abundance of gritty lead guitar work.  Rick Foley fuses his throbbing bass lines with the driving drums of Jerry McBroom to form an air tight rhythm section.  Other guest appearances are made by Rick Florian (White Heart) and The Newsboys – both background vocals – and Rick Elias on harmonica.
 
The albums production duties were capably handled by Plinky (the producer of Novella’s very fine debut One Big Sky) who created a sound that is crisp and edgy but polished at the same time.

Please note that the band named the album after a run in with a large snake while in the studio.  Dale expands further upon the matter:  

     “We were in the beginning stages of recording, and took a break to drive to the store. A large reptile was lying beside
     our car sunbathing on the pavement. In my attempts to chase the snake away, I chased it under the car. To make
     matters worse, the effort to move the snake from under the car drove it up into the fender wells. We spent the next
     hour and a half trying to get the snake to come out. We sprayed it with the water hose, poked at it with a broom handle,
     even shook the car, but it would not come out. Finally, when we thought we would just have to let the snake have the
     car, it crawled out and back into the wooded area next to the studio.”1

It is also worth pointing out that the material on Snakes… was directly inspired by the letters the band received from its fans during the months leading up to its recording.  As  a result, the albums lyrics are based upon social problems and how we should deal with them from a Christian standpoint.  Topics covered include drug abuse, suicide, abortion, gang violence and other issues facing youth of the day.

“Rattlesnake” gets the album underway to the voice of a preacher stating, “Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart today.”  Taking off to wailing sirens as pounding drums fade into the mix, momentum builds as a crisp rhythm guitar drives “Rattlesnake” ahead until it immediately launches into an intensely delivered chorus.  Tapering off for its first verse, a whispered voice accents the song during its vigorous pre-chorus before obtaining its chorus one more time.  “Rattlesnake” speaks against people who give drugs to kids in order that they might turn into addicts and buyers:

Dropping rattlesnakes in the playground
Are we evil are we good?
Dropping rattlesnakes in the playground
Would you save them if you could?

It won’t get any better, it’ll only get worse
Cry to God and plead the fifth
Who is to blame for our demise?
Cleanse our hands from all the lies

The clashing symbols at the start of “Would You Die For Me” give way to a slamming riff.  After the song transitions to a predominate bass line at the start of its first verse, a bristling rhythm guitar takes over and cuts an angry swath to a rumbling chorus shored up by the bands resounding low end.  Greg Martin complements the ardent scene with his gritty work on lead guitar.

“Psychedelic Super Jesus” quickly jumps out of the gate to a torrid wall of rhythm guitar.  Stopping dead in its tracks, the song moves through its first verse as the rhythm guitar punches its way in and out of the mix, a groove flavored setting put in place for the spirited, background vocal driven chorus that follows.  Troy lends his talents with a stretch of rousing lead guitar work.  “Psychedelic Super Jesus” deals with a band in Bride’s hometown of Louisville that would sing blasphemously about God: 

You say he’s weak, he’s a super freak
You don’t believe that he came
You say God’s dead, you lost your head
You’ve got him swinging from a chain

God is love, there is power in the blood
Seek and you will find
Today is the day, better give it away
There’s no better time

In Dale’s words, “They see Jesus as a hippie guru living in the 60’s, but we know that is not who He is.”

A drum solo initiates “Fallout” before it takes off in an up-tempo manner to a catchy guitar riff.  The song decelerates to a punchy bass line for its first verse as Dale adds some grit and gravel to his delivery, only picking back up in pace as it culminates for a striking chorus reinforced by a forceful swell of rhythm guitar.  The energy-laden atmosphere continues into an instrumental section highlighted by a fiery guitar solo.

“Saltriver Shuffle” is a brief (:37) but cool interlude featuring dialogue between Dale and Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters) carried over a blend of acoustic guitar and harmonica.

“Dust Through A Fan” immediately kicks in at a frenetic upbeat tempo to Dale’s rapid fire vocal delivery.  Slowing to a forward mix of crunchy rhythm guitar for its second verse, “Dust Through A Fan” gains impetus as it reaches a trenchant chorus with a catchy, refuse to go away hook.  Derek Jan (Novella) contributes a very well done melodic based guitar solo.

“I Miss The Rain”, a wonderful power ballad with a huge, commercial flavored melody, takes off to a delicate balance of piano and acoustic guitar.  Maintaining the graceful setting during its verse portions, the song breaks out with an abundance of emotion for a radio friendly chorus conveyed in a sublime but poignant fashion.  Troy steps forward with a perfectly timed mandolin solo.

Gradually fading in before settling down to a few brief seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Don’t Use Me” is driven forward by a punchy bass line until culminating for a non-stop hook filled chorus advancing at a lively upbeat tempo.  Troy and Greg Martin trade off on lead guitar throughout a rollicking instrumental section.  “Don’t’ Use Me” talks about an individual who suffers a drug overdose but in the end finds salvation:

Lazy alley mind filled my crazy head with crack
Spooky little spinner so we called up the jack
Felt my feet dangling from the 27th floor
I ain’t no train stopping super man no more

I could never imagine salvation and compassion
Or a life without guilt and pain
Jesus cried drops of blood in the garden with His love
So we could believe in His name

“Picture Perfect” begins its first verse to a prodigious layer of slowly moving rhythm guitar, gradually grinding its way forward in determined fashion only to pick up in pace for a resolute chorus giving rise to an abundance of hook driven momentum.  The high-octane environment is maintained throughout an instrumental section fortified by a fervid guitar solo.  This is one of the albums heavier and more guitar driven tracks.

Commencing to a screaming open air rhythm guitar that bounces between the left and right channel, “Love, Money” slows to a steadfast mid-tempo pace upon obtaining its first verse.  Gradually gaining initiative, the song makes an even transition to a quickly moving chorus that will pull you in as a result of the near mesmerizing manner in which it is delivered.  “Love, Money” focuses on gang violence:

There’s a war around Disneyland
There is no love they don’t understand
Free falling through America
They have no family with gun in hand

It’s a world self-contained
Wear no colors but they have a name
See it in their eyes, racial genocide, blood on the streets

“Some Things Never Change” doggedly moves forward from the start, tapering off to a groove flavored tempo for its first verse before a pounding riff takes over and leads the way to a catchy chorus buttressed by a flood of hard hitting impetus.  I like how Dale’s intense wailing gives way to a torrid stretch of lead guitar.

The album closes with a very classy ballad entitled “Goodbye”.  A piano quietly and gently compels the song through its first and second verse, a heartfelt setting put in place as it attains a fleeting chorus that points the way to salvation:

Goodbye to the life that blinded me
Hello to the one that saved me

A very fine ending to an album that ranks among the finest in the annals of Christian hard music.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Rattlesnake” (4:33), “Would You Die For Me” (3:35), “Psychedelic Super Jesus” (4:17), “Fallout” (4:03), “Saltriver Shuffle” (:37), “Dust Through A Fan” (3:08), “I Miss The Rain” (3:52), “Don’t Use Me” (4:20), “Picture Perfect” (4:21), “Love, Money” (3:47), “Some Things Never Change” (4:09), “Goodbye” (5:43)

Musicians
Dale Thompson – Lead Vocals, Tambourine & Shakers
Troy Thompson – Guitars, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Cello & Viola
Rik Foley – Bass
Jerry McBroom – Drums

Guest Musicians
Greg Martin – Guitars
Derek Jan – Guitars
Rick Elias - Harmonica

Also Reviewed: Bride – Show No Mercy, Bride – Live To Die, Bride – Silence Is Madness, Bride – Kinetic Faith, Bride – This Is It

Reference List
Jenison, David.  “Bride’s Hard Rock Playground.” Heaven’s Metal 38 (1992): 4-8.
Muttillo, Dave. “Thunder In The City.” White Throne 12 (1991): 10-12 & 16.
“Bride The Book – Chapter 7.” Online article available at: www.bridepub.com/chap7.htm
“Bride The Book – Chapter 8.” Online article available at: www.bridepub.com/chap8.htm
“Bride The Book – Chapter 9.” Online article available at: www.bridepub.com/chap9.htm

End Notes
1. Dale Thompson, “Bride The Book – Chapter 9.” Online article available at: www.bridepub.com/chap9.htm

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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