|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Glenn Thomas|
|Record Label: Image||Country Of Origin: USA & Canada|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 53:44|
The GX Project summer of 2014 sophomore album Sinner in quotes from Southern California based founding member and vocalist/guitarist Rex Scott:
“This is the most true rock ‘n’ roll album I've ever done. It's rock ‘n’ roll from beginning to end and I love it. I've done metal, hard rock and pop rock but this is real rock ‘n’ roll”.
Such is the ethos about Sinner. It’s about rock ‘n’ roll heart, guts and soul, as can be found in the GX Project high energy presence that hearkens back to Scott’s signature group X-Sinner and its fiery AC/DC influenced releases Peace Treaty and World Covered In Blood from 1991 and 2008, respectively. It’s every bit as much about rock ‘n’ roll muscle and swagger, reflected in bluesy sensibilities that bring to mind Bride and Thieves & Liars but mixed with streetwise toughness characteristic to Main Line Riders, Junkyard and other bands with a sound straight off the Sunset Strip. It’s also rock ‘n’ roll from the standpoint of guitar hooks and immediate sensibilities that remind of Zion, the commercial heavy group in which Scott cut his teeth during the late eighties.
But most of all it’s rock ‘n’ roll in terms of being pure GX Project, in taking a similar musical heading as the groups critically acclaimed (85% Angelic Warlord review) 2012 full length debut Bite Stick. In other words, GX Project, a joining of Scott and Canadian guitarist Glenn Thomas, draws upon the musical leanings of the above referenced to create a sound that can best be described as straightforward hard rock with incisive metal edges but in a bluesy rock ‘n’ roll package!
Opening Sinner track “Satisfaction” embodies the unflagging GX Project disposition with its raucous proclivities and hooks to spare, as does “Tear It Up”, a mercurial three minutes of authoritative riffs and gutsy low-end flavorings. Nasty and snarling bad attitude mauler “All About You” maintains the boisterous mentality as does the no-nonsense propensities to the catchy “Train Wreck” and staunch as it gets “Get Some”. Taking the tenacious levels higher are albums two heaviest in “Sinner”, swarthy and ominous but anthem-like at the same time, and “Living Dead”, larger than life with its guttural refrain and backbone of pulverizing groove.
A more accessible though no less vibrant side to GX Project reveals itself on “You Can’t” and “Don’t Come Cheap”, prime examples of high octane blues heavy rock interlaced with arresting background vocals. I cannot help but be reminded of early X-Sinner either way. Lighter and on the stripped down side of things are “Get You High” and “I Sell Love”, mirthfully laid back rockers joining equal parts non-stop hooks with unyielding momentum. The two exemplify the straight on GX Project rock ‘n’ roll spirit best.
Only a couple tracks do not do it for me. “Rock N Roll Soul’ is not bad but at two and a half minutes fails to build as it should, while ‘She Goes All Night” comes across too simply structured for my taste. Lacking with both are the engaging qualities that might bring me back with repeat listen. Overall, I cannot help but feel it might have worked better if GX Project had trimmed Sinner to 11 tracks, which would align it with the Bite Stick output.
How do the two compare in the areas of packaging, production and songwriting?
The “train blasting forth from seemingly hell itself under full steam with the title blood spattered on the cow plow on the nose” artwork to Sinner trounces the plain Bite Stick cover featuring the group’s logo placed over a purple backdrop. I also favor the fold out insert to Sinner that includes photos of Scott and Thomas over the simplistic single sided insert to Bite Stick.
Production is a wash in that both reflect a professional feel in giving rise to just enough polish but not enough to take away from the bands natural energy. Keep in mind the Sinner production yields the heavier edge and Bite Stick a more commercial aspect (observation and not critique from either standpoint). Both albums deserve commendation in this area as self-financed and independently released project.
Sinner and Bite Stick might include an equal number of good songs, but Bite Stick succeeds with more that are great. With the possible exception of “Sinner”, “Train Wreck” and “’Living Dead”, Sinner in my opinion does not feature anything on the same level as “Love IV” (huge commercial hook), “OMG” (plodding bass guitar driven monster), “Bite The Hand That Feeds” (scintillating with its smoothly flowing groove) and “Soul Stealer” (highly excitable barn burner). Sinner also lacks the diversity a traditional blues based piece such as “Get Me Outa This Hell” brings. Hence, I am going to go out on a limb and state that Bite Stick comes out on top in terms of songwriting, allowing for the fact in finishing a close second Sinner by no means can be considered second rate or second best.
Similar to his performance on Bite Stick, Scott continues to showcase a Brian Johnson (AC/DC) influenced vocal approach bristling of power and attitude that runs the gamut from soaring falsettos to snarl and angst of a lower register variety. Subtle and reserved he is not. Also, keep in mind I am not a connoisseur of AC/DC style vocals, and as a result find his delivery at times strained and on the forced side of things. That said, those more comfortable with an AC/DC based sound I can see better embracing the qualities Scott brings to the table. In the end, it comes down to a matter of taste as opposed to quality.
Scott and Glenn Thomas share rhythm guitar duties, with some songs handled entirely by Scott and others entirely by Thomas (on several songs they work together). Likewise, lead guitar is a joint effort but with Thomas providing the bulk of the soloing. In terms of specifics, “She Goes All Night” and “Sinner” feature Scott’s playing, while the two trade off on “Living Dead” and “Tear It Up” (Thomas comes in at the end of the former with the ‘wah-wah pedal histrionics’ and on the latter Scott provides the first solo and Thomas the second). Regardless, the playing of the two is heavily rooted in hard rock, classic rock and the blues.
Do not confuse GX Project with being a Christian band. Rather the group at its Facebook page describes itself as a ‘mainstream rock project’ instead. Yes, GX Project sings about issues pertaining to Christianity (such as hypocrisy) but, as taken from an interview with Scott, otherwise “attempts to break boundaries lyrically by writing songs that everyone can enjoy and hopefully take a little something away from”. Scott goes into further detail (from the same interview) by stating,
“(Neither) life nor God is simply that easily labeled or understood”, while correspondingly warning against the danger of “(reducing) everything down into a simplistic Christian formula.” He sums things up by suggesting, “If God is the author of truth, truth is truth no matter where you find it and only looking for it in a safe Christian bubble is not how you find it.”
Sinner vs. Bite Stick? Both have their accolades with former taking the heavier stance and latter approaching things from the more accessible standpoint. The overall feel is that Sinner places the greater priority on a guitar-based sound (not that Bite Stick is light by any stretch of the imagination) and Bite Stick a commercial leaning (not that Sinner is devoid of hooks). In the end, you cannot go wrong either way so my recommendation would be to get them both!
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Satisfaction” (3:24), “Rock N Roll Soul” (2:36), “You Can’t” (5:03), “Get Some” (4:36), “She Goes All Night” (4:12), “I Sell Love” (3:58), “Tear It Up” (3:03), “Sinner” (4:54), “Get You High” (4:48), “All About You” (4:26), “Don’t Come Cheap” (4:39), “Train Wreck” (3:32), “Living Dead” (4:29)
Rex Scott - Lead Vocals, Guitars & Percussion
Glenn Thomas - Guitars, Bass & Acoustic Drums
Craig Jeans - Drums