|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Glenn Thomas|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA & Canada|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
Before we give our full attention to the June of 2015 third GX Project full length Raze Some Hell that is the subject of this review, let’s give a shout out to its predecessors, debut Bite Stick from 2012 and sophomore effort Sinner released two years later. Bite Stick remains my favorite of the two, ranking atop the GX Project back catalog with its higher levels of variety, consistency and accessibility as it pertains to songwriting- my opinion and even if just slightly. Great song after great song presents itself (the 85% review I wrote does not do it justice), including catchy anthems “Let’s Turn It Up” and “Love I.V.”, laid back swagger of “Bite The Hand That Feeds” and relentless AC/DC style hard rocker “Soul Stealer”. GX Project even took on traditional blues with “Get Me Outa This Hell”. It adds up to one of those unique packages of songs that cannot help but entice over long term, as I duly found out when revisiting the album in leading up to this review.
Sinner (80% Angelic Warlord review) ups the standard in the area of artwork, with the “train blasting forth from seemingly hell itself under full steam with the title blood spattered on the cow plow on the nose” cover nothing less an eye-catching classic. Production improves as well in tightening things up and yielding the heavier affect that contrasts with the more commercial aspects to Bite Stick. Musically, Sinner also presents with its share of choice moments, as top of the line pieces “Sinner”, “Train Wreck” and “Living Dead” aptly attest; yet when placed alongside, I find myself drawn to Bite Stick with its more pronounced musical cohesion and refinement overall. In no way is this intended to denigrate Sinner, quite the solid work in its own right despite a couple skip buttons (again, my opinion) amidst its 13 tracks.
What the two have in common is vocal direction of founding member and lead vocalist Rex Scott, who brought a snarling and attitude-laden mode of singing influenced strongly by Brian Johnson (AC/DC). Noting that I am not a connoisseur of AC/DC style vocals, I took a neutral stance by stating (in both reviews) those more comfortable with an AC/DC based sound would better embrace Scott’s qualities. In other words, it came down to taste as opposed to quality. On Raze Some Hell, however, Scott backs off from his AC/DC vocal leanings and adopts a gritty and raspy delivery more akin to that which he took with his earlier groups Zion (its first and only 1989 release Thunder From The Mountain) and X-Sinner (1991 sophomore effort Peace Treaty). Yes, Scott occasionally touches upon his previous AC/DC ways, but otherwise takes a vocal approach aligning with a stripped down and barebones rock n’ roll feel, which musically better indicates what GX Project is about.
Hence, how Raze Some Hell finds the group continuing to reside at the junction of straightforward hard rock, high-energy melodic metal and the bluesy aesthetic. Imagine ample doses of barbed muscle and swagger fused with good old-fashioned streetwise, heart, guts and soul. That would be the best way to describe the albums title track, drawing upon the heavier propensity of Sinner but also embracing the more accessible facets to Bite Stick. In terms of the former, freight train guitars and writhing bass make fateful front to back statements, while from the standpoint of the latter flowing backing vocals smooth out the reverberant (and very catchy) refrain.
Also delivering equal doses of the forthright and commercial is “Gonna Burn”. A dynamic anthem rocker, the song establishes a melodic based foundation (as can be found in its radio friendly chorus) but without forsaking the GX Project penchant for the aggressive (guitars dig and bite with the best of them). In similar fashion, “Hungry Heart” highlights a pronounced as it gets hook - the candid vocal melodies provide support in this area - while upholding a biting and scratching mentality that has Sunset strip sleaze written all over it. Fans of late eighties melodic metal will be certain to embrace this one. Common to the two is the exquisite playing of co-founding member and guitarist Glenn Thomas. A more than above average (and vastly underrated ) player, Thomas dazzles with his intricate but fluid soloing that proves a textbook showcase for eighties guitar hero shredding (he reminds somewhat of Tony Palacios of Guardian).
Taking the all out energy to the next level is “Give Em’ Hell”. What we have here is a ripping AC/DC style hard rocker, pronounced with its effervescent disposition approaching the vehement but also effortless in smoothly flowing through an immaculate refuse to go away refrain. The better Bite Stick material cannot help but come to mind. Every bit earnest is aptly entitled “Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, a mirthful party rocker in which gritty blues aspects align with leanings towards the boisterous to give rise to an early Van Halen to prime Guardian flair. This one would sound right at home live.
“Hard Workin’ Woman” maintains the up-tempo sentiments but with more of a melodic hard rock feel. While guitars might not be quite as pronounced - light acoustic lacings highlight the backdrop - the same accessible format that makes the albums better material standout manifests itself here. “What I Need” elevates the heaviness in comparison while taking a similar melodic had rock propensity. A bluesy vibe results, as can be found in the heartfelt refrain and grainy guitar tones throughout. Either way, Thomas again asserts himself with his adroit soloing.
Tempering the impetus but not the acumen is ‘Don’t Let Go”. Laid back and easy going in form, the song basks in bottomless melody in playing up copious doses of staunchly flowing groove that hints of early nineties Bride. Also mid-paced is “Just Got Screwed”, decidedly low end compelled and more ominous in structure but also endorsing the GX Project straining towards the blues seeded. As evident in the songs title, a tongue in cheek feel comes to the forefront. “She’s Got Balls” (not an AC/DC cover) plows and mauls with guitars plastered to the front of the mix and arresting bass anchoring the low en. Burly and bounteous is the feel at hand. Characteristic to the three is Scott’s at times even and others granular vocal delivery- he has literally not lost anything over the years. Credit the artist for the manner in which he has returned to an old school if not throwback vocal approach.
It would not be out of line to suggest Raze Some Hell features the best GX Project production- or at the vey least up there with Sinner. I particularly appreciate the robust feel to the low-end and clean guitar lead mix. In terms of packaging, cover art proves colorful and eye catching, while the CD inner sleeve folds out to reveal professionally done band photos and detailed liner notes.
What I said in my Sinner review still holds true in that 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. Specifically, GX Project (also Facebook) “attempts to break boundaries lyrically by writing songs that everyone can enjoy and hopefully take a little something away from”. According to Scott, “(Neither) life nor God is simply that easily labeled or understood” while “(it can prove dangerous) reducing everything down into a simplistic Christian formula.” He sums 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.”
According to GX Project, “Raze Some Hell” is about destroying hell, with ‘raze’ defined as ‘tearing down to the ground’. The group goes on to add that, “There's a lot of hell in this world all around us and ‘raze’ is a call to action, to tear some of it down when and where we can.” Otherwise, lyrics focus on individual portraits and character sketches. “Hard Workin’ Woman”, for instance, deals with a woman employed at multiple jobs to support her family: She’s a hard working woman. She’s a hard working babe. Pretty good at making something out of nothing. She’s hoping for a better day
“She’s Got Balls” also revolves around a female character, this one brashly outspoken and strongly opinionated: Not afraid to speak her mind. Or shoot you down. She can put you on the spot. Or put you on the run
“Just Got Screwed”, talking about being conned and taken advantage of, has the infamous line: I gave my money to a preacher man. He said he needed the cash. Now he’s in some Beverly Hills mansion. He’s saying kiss my (oops!).
Yes, GX Project has the right idea in that the excesses of certain television preachers (I take it for granted this is the target) have previously been documented but are also beyond the scope of this review. That said, the group might also be missing the point in that if one is to financially support a ministry then do so with responsibility and prudence in mind. In other words, instead of a television preacher (with whom you are unlikely to form a face-to-face relationship) why not give to a local church body or mission organization instead. I cannot help think you will get a better return on your investment either way- or at the very least not end up being ‘screwed’ in the end. The old Resurrection Band tune “The Wolfsong” (off Rainbow’s End) sums the matter up succinctly;
Ooh, you'll know them by their love and by their fruit,
Not by pearly teeth, Mercedes, or fine suits,
Not by where they go or what they can afford,
Not by Jesus as their Saviour, but as their Lord.
When factoring songwriting, production and performance, Raze Some Hell more than adds up to the equal of Bite Stick. A great deal of the albums said success traces to the near perfect vocalist and guitarist synergy that exists between Rex Scott and Glenn Thomas. I hope the two continue to be as productive moving forward. If you have never previously heard GX Project then Raze Some Hell is a good place to start; if a long term fan then what are you waiting for- make obtaining the album an immediate priority!
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Raze Some Hell” (5:41), “Gonna Burn” (3:45), “Hard Workin’ Woman” (3:54), “Hungry Heart” (3:31), “Don’t Let Go” (3:47), “Give ‘Em Hell” (4:18), “What I Need” (4:18), “Just Got Screwed” (4:11), “She’s Got Balls” (4:46), “Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” (4:16), “Unknown Track 11” (1:39)
Rex Scott - Lead Vocals, Guitars and Various Shaker Percussion
Glenn Thomas - Guitars, Bass & Acoustic Drums