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
Foundation Twelve - Foundation Twelve
   
Musical Style: Classic Hard Rock Produced By:
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2007 Artist Website:
Tracks: 11 Rating: 70%
Running Time: 41:59
Foundation Twelve - Foundation Twelve

Michigan is home to Foundation Twelve and its compelling form of classic Christian hard rock.  A power trio combining for nearly a hundred years experience, Foundation Twelve consists of Mark Woznick (thirty years experience on bass), Phil Campbell (twenty-eight years experience as a guitarist/vocalist), and T. A. Nalian (thirty-nine years experience on drums).  To say that the three have paid their dues in the music scene – and bring the needed qualification in terms of their chosen instruments – would be an understatement.

The key words here are “classic Christian hard rock”.  The bands 2007 independently released self-titled debut breaks down evenly between acoustic laced pieces and those heading in a more guitar driven direction.  The acoustic guitar makes its presence felt on the worshipful “Wretch Like Me” and classy ballad “Carry On” in addition to the classic rock influenced sounds of the up-tempo “I Am”, atmospheric “In The Morning” and swarthy “Tallest Tree”.  When Foundation Twelve kicks it into high gear, such as the catchy “Run To The Holy One”, anthem-like “Armor Of God”, groove driven “Big God” and pointed “Stand”, it can deliver a track every bit as notable.  To add a bit of variety the group even gives us a gritty blues rocker in “Neba K Blues”.

Phil Campbell proves a capable vocalist with his mid-ranged but gritty style.  “Big God” finds him adding a low-key touch to his delivery while he even things out on “Wretch Like Me”.  If you are interested in quality lead guitar then look no further than his work on “Big God”, “In The Morning” and “Carry On”.  Mark Woznick and T.A. Nalian, at the same time, form the backbone of quite the solid rhythm section.

Production values, unfortunately, trend towards the thin and muddy side of things (and represent the lone area of improvement worth noting).  Some big budget polish would have helped out here immensely.

The album gets underway with the catchy classic rock of “I Am”.  The song presents with an even balance of the acoustic and electric, moving its distance drifting between passages of an up-tempo variety and other heading in a more tranquil direction.  No questioning where Foundation Twelve is coming from on this one:   

Jesus you are the way.
Jesus you are the truth.
Jesus you are, you are the life.

You are the alpha and omega.
You are the beginning and the end.
You are the King of Kings.
You are the Lord of Lords.
You are God almighty.
 
“Wretch Like Me”, the albums longest track at seven and a half minutes, proves a worshipful piece.  Drifting forward slowly from the start, the song does not pick up in pace until acquiring a chorus drawing its lyrics from the well known hymn “Amazing Grace”:

To save a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I'm found,
You saved a wretch like me.
I once was blind but now I see,
You saved a wretch like me.
Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
You saved a wretch like me, like me, yeah.

Interestingly, “Wretch Like Me” spends its last two minutes paying tribute to another popular hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, as Campbell sings acapella over a drum accompaniment.

“Run To The Holy One” brings a more hard rocking sound.  Standing out with its spirited impetus, the song drives through its punchy verse portions prior to transitioning to an enticing chorus in which an edgy rhythm guitar plays a leading role.  A pronounced bass line shores up an extended instrumental section.  “Run To The Holy One” is a song of faith:

Where do you run when you need to hide?
When trouble comes in like a flood?
Where do you run when you're so weak?
When your body cries out for peace?
Who do you call when your feelings hurt?
When there's no one there to call for help?
He shall hide me, to Thee I flee.
For victory, a crucial victory.

Run to the Holy One, He's the only one who is always there for you.
Open the book and learn of Him and He will guide you to the end.

“who IS this MAN” represents one of the albums few letdowns.  A quieter number upheld acoustically, I find the song to lack the musical depth of the better material here- failing to deliver that standout hook or melody that might keep me coming back time and again.  It does not lack for lyrical prowess, however:

Who is this Man who bore the cross for my sin and
Sits at the right hand of God who sent Him for my sin and
Who is this Man?  Emmanuel, in flesh He came.

Jesus, Jesus.

Who do you say that I am, the Son of God or Son of man?
He is I Am, the one who died to forgive man.

“Armor Of God” does a better job exhibiting the bands potential.  Another driving hard rocker, the song showcases an abundance of muscular guitar riffs along with a melody every bit as enticing as the music.  An anthem-like chorus almost gives rise to a sublime feel.  Spiritual warfare is the subject matter here:

We have the shield and the sword,
We have the breastplate of the Lord,
Slipped on the shoes of the Gospel news.

We have truth wrapped around our waist,
We have truth wrapped around our waist.
Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
The helmet of salvation will win the fight for you.

“Big God” delivers a ton of groove.  With its massive walls of guitars, fluid leads and fat bass lines, the song proves two and a half minute explosion of non-stop verve (by far the bands best effort).  A rumbling chorus makes mention of several Old Testament figures from the past:

Big God, I serve a big God, let's praise the big God,
Of Moses, Noah and Abraham.
Big God, I serve a big God, let's praise the big God,
Of Moses, Noah and Abraham.

The only complaint is that this one is a bit on the short side of things (it could easily have been extended an extra minute or two).

“In The Morning” stands out as another first class work.  An ethereal tinged piece, the song heads in acoustic laced classic rock territory but touched up with spans of bluesy lead guitar.  A copious melody gains your attention on first listen.  “In The Morning” can best be described as a song of faith:

Said a prayer this morning,
I feel hope all around.
Have you ever felt His presence,
Felt His presence come down?

Joy comes in the morning,
Gives you peace all day long.
Consider saying a prayer today,
In His will you belong.

Dark, low-key and swarthy, “Tallest Tree” is also acoustic based but heavier and with occasional edges of rhythm guitar.  More bluesy soloing adds to what can best be described as a poignant scene.  A moving vocal performance from Campbell is contributed to a song with a meaningful message:

I cannot take you very high,
This the tree did reply.
I stop somewhere in the midst of the sky.
I cannot take you to the sweet by and by.
But I can guide you to another tree
That can save your soul and set you free.
There was a man who lived long ago,
A story that I must let you know.

Upon the cross He hung in the air.
People laughed and mocked, they did not care.
Jesus Christ, He became a curse
As he hung above this sinful earth.

Quintessential hard rocker “Stand” is as catchy as they get.  The most notable aspect to the song is its sledgehammer riffs – the distorted feel to the rhythm guitar borders on all out metal – and lyrical direction of the worshipful:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb of God,
And worthy to be praised.
Worthy, worthy, worthy is our God above

Great song but similar to “Big God” it is also a bit short at just two and a half minutes.

The ballad “Carry On” will hold your attention with its copious melody.  A lush acoustic guitar compels the song its length while distant but accentuating keyboards highlight the backdrop.  I also enjoy how the group makes its instrumental presence felt, opening to a minute long stretch of acoustic guitar before closing its final minute and a half to an atmospheric lead guitar.  Encouraging lyrical direction as well:

When the sun comes up, you face another dawn.
And when you've done your best, you can't believe you're wrong.
And when there's no time left, oh Jesus sing this song:
You must press on.
You must press on

Foundation Twelve throws us a bit of a curveball with the blues rocker “Neba K Blues”.  Think Stevie & The Saints or Glenn Kaiser Band.  From the spicy harmonica to the gritty rhythm guitar to the low key vocal approach, the song does not miss a beat as it pays tribune to Shadrack, Meshak and Abednego (from Daniel 3: 1-30):

So heat the furnace seven times hot,
These boys are gonna burn and rot.
Bind them fast and throw them in,
You wouldn't worship my image, now you lose and I win.

Did we not throw three men in,
Though I see four walkin'?
Oh my servants, what have I done?
The fourth looks like he's God's Son.

What else can you say except that this one is just plan fun to list to (and proves a very fitting album closer).

Foundation Twelve proves its strengths in the areas of songwriting and musicianship.  Yes, I might hit the skip button once or twice but the likes of “Run To The Holy One”, “Big God”, “In The Morning”, “Stand” and “Carry On” showcase the strength of the group’s songwriting skills.  Phil Campbell’s classic rock flavored voice perfectly complements the music here while his work on lead guitar is adeptly done.  Production, as previously mentioned, represents the one area of improvement worth noting.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “I Am” (3:49), “Wretch Like Me” (7:23), “Run To The Holy One” (3:38), “whoISthisMan” (3:34), “Armor Of God” (3:13), “Big God” (2:24), “In The Morning” (3:42), “Tallest Tree” (3:07)), “Stand” (2:27), “Carry On” (4:46), Neba K Blues” (3:59).

Musicians
Phil Campbell – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Mark Woznick – Bass
T.A. Nalian - Drums

 

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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