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
Jesus Joshua 24:15 - Three The Hard Way
   
Musical Style: Hard Rock Produced By: Bobby Shepherd
Record Label: Soul Joy Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2006 Artist Website: Jesus Joshua 24:15
Tracks: 11 Rating: 50%
Running Time: 36:17
Jesus Joshua 24:15 - Three The Hard Way

Resurrection Band stands out as one of the pioneering groups in the Christian hard rock movement.  Hitting the scene in the late seventies, this five piece unit from Chicago released several groundbreaking albums in Awaiting Your Reply (1978), Rainbow’s End (1979), Colours (1980), Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore (1981) and DMZ (1982) prior to the flood of “white metal bands” that came out of the woodwork following the commercial success of Stryper.  While Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Bride, Guardian, Holy Soldier, Sacred Warrior and Whitecross were all quite capable, none consistently captured the blues based and gritty sound that Resurrection Band brought to the table.  Several recent groups, however, warrant consideration: F.O.G., Spittin Jonah, Mission Of One and Jesus Joshua 24:15.  Jesus Joshua 24:15 is an act of particular note.  Coming out of Saint Pauls, North Carolina in 1995, the band put out its debut, The Time Of My Return, in 1997 before following up six years later with the sophomore outing Once And For All.  After signing with Soul Joy Records, Jesus Joshua 24:15 proceeded to record and release its third album, Three The Hard Way, in the fall of 2006.

What Jesus Joshua 24:15 delivers on Three The Hard Way is straightforward hard rock drawing upon many of the driving and blues based elements that made Resurrection Band so successful.  This is best found in top of the line tracks such as the up-tempo “By God” (great hook on this one) in addition to the slower but equally notable “The Rut Your In” and “Rush To War”.  “My Accuser” finds the band showcasing its technical expertise while a heavy groove direction is taken on “My Dog Can Preach”.  In the end, however, Three The Hard Way proves an inconsistent effort in that for every standout number there is one that forces me to hit the skip button.  “Give It Back” and “Always You Are There”, for example, both rock with authority but would have stood out further if injected with a bit more melody.  “Rise Up” and “S.O.S.”, at the same time, also disappoint as a result of their repetitive feel and lack of strong chorus hooks.  

The grit-laden and gravelly vocal style of Steve Pettit perfectly suits the hard rocking material here.  Yes, he does exhibit an occasional shaky or heavy handed momentum but otherwise performs solidly.  The guitar work of Wil Rauser, while not groundbreaking or mind blowing, is sound in combining an upfront rhythm guitar sound with soloing of a gutsy variety.  Bassist Jay Woody and Bobby Shepherd perform capably as the bands rhythm section.

Production values trend towards the muddy side of things.  The rhythm guitar, for example, could have been beefed up and the drums mixed more cleanly.  A great deal of improvement is needed here.

The album gets underway with one of its better tracks, “By God”.  Quite the melodic piece, this one combines a catchy chorus hook – a near commercial (but equally heavy) environs is put into place here – with a youthful, up-tempo energy reminiscent to Canada’s Daniel Band.  Upfront lyrical direction as well:

By God all things are fashioned
Born of compassion He gave His
Own to save all
By God Jesus was raised
Up from His grave

The pace slows down for the Rez Band style hard rock of “The Rut Your In”.  The song powers its way forward from the start, crunching through its verse portions as the rhythm guitar cuts in and out of the mix.  Picking up in pace, “The Rut Your In” moves on to a gripping chorus talking about the need for a positive attitude towards life:

All your whining and your complaining
Gets you nowhere, creates no change
Digs your hole a little deeper
Makes more solid the rut your in

The following best sums up the songs message:

Just renew your mind
It’s a trap, just renew your mind
Repent and be changed
By the renewing of your mind

The clashing symbols at the start of “Rush To War” – another Rez Band-like number – give way to an aggressive slab of rhythm guitar.  Plowing ahead at a rumbling mid-tempo pace, the song peak as it obtains a chorus giving full vent to the bands all out prodigious energy.  “Rush To War” touches upon the issue of spiritual warfare:

He comes at me with a shield and a sword
I take him down with the name of the Lord
He can’t get me like he did before
When I see him comin’ I rush to war

Be strong in the Lord and the power
Of His might, don’t back down

“My Accuser” represents the bands songwriting skills at their very best.  Creative but spirited, “My Accuser” stands out with its numerous time changes – some up-tempo and melodic and others slower and more resonant – while establishing a technical setting that brings to mind the heavy duty sounds of Sardonyx.  Rauser adds one of the albums better stretches of ardent lead guitar.  “My Accuser” is aptly named:

He stands at the throne of God
With railing accusations of them that
Love the Lord day and night
War at the throne of God
Cast out down into the earth
Accuser of the brethren
With all of his rebellion rage
For they know that the end is near
We stand doing all to stand
We overcome his fury by the blood of the Lamb and our words
As we testify

Straightforward and no frills hard rock, “Give It Back” amalgamates a pull no punches rhythm guitar sound with a gravelly vocal performance from Steve Pettit.  Shouted backing vocals step forward to fortify a chorus of a pointed variety.  While far from bad, my overall feeling is that “Give It Back” is one of several tracks here that would have benefited from a touch more melody.

The same can be said for “Always You Are There”.  A bottom heavy and plodding – almost bluesy – track, “Always You Are There” gives rise to a near heavy handed feel as a result of a chorus bordering on the repetitive.  Rauser puts forth a terrific display of his soloing abilities but it is not enough to put the song over the top.  Again, what is needed here is a bit more melody.

The tongue in cheek approach of “My Dog Can Preach” brings a light hearted element the album desperately needs at this point.  The song actually delivers a ton of groove as it describes a guy sitting at home when, unexpectedly, his dog jumps on the table and – as the title suggests – begins to preach.  The dog claims to be “on a mission” as it delivers the salvation message in no uncertain terms:

God so loved the world that He gave His
Son and those who believe shall not pass
Away but have life everlasting in Him
All have sinned and all come short the
Wage of sin is death if we confess our
Sin to God He is faithful to forgive
Jesus is the way He is the Truth He is the
Life He is the bridge to the Father there
Is no other way
If you do believe within your heart and do
Confess this with your mouth Jesus
Is Lord and Savior you are saved

Once more, the bands approach borders on the tongue in cheek (almost corny), but give the guys credit for the creative manner in which they get a dead serious point across:

That dog of mine is so divine, He can preach
The Gospel truth
That little hound, He can bring it down, I mean
Hellfire and brimstone

I began to shout as he layed it out
The Son of God was slain for all mankind
Rose again on the third day
Now heaven belongs to those who believe

The album returns to its repetitious ways with “Rise Up”.  Another “back to basics” hard rocker, the song without a doubt is driven by a more than ample amount of rhythm guitar but, similar to several other tracks here, lacks a notable hook in its chorus.  The end result being an environment I might describe as overbearing (particularly when considering the forced feel to Pettit’s vocal delivery).  If Jesus Joshua 24:15 could put a bit more melody in its music it would be fine.  Cannot question the songs lyrical direction, however:

He rose up in the early light and stepped out from the grave
The scars of death upon Him now everything was changed
The one hold that the devil had and every man would face
Was pulled down in front of Him, through Christ we now are saved

Cheesy is the first word that comes to mind when describing the radio signals introducing “S.O.S.”.  The song, while another example of gritty hard rock, ends up two and a half minutes of filler due to its lack of both a notable melody and chorus of interest.  Things are starting to get a bit redundant here.

The albums minute long title track helps out a bit.  The song proves an “interlude” type piece as a muscular rhythm guitar stands in support of a message revolving around Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection:

There was one man
With a will to
Take three nails
Take them for you

Yes, one man
Did not have to
Take three days
In the grave

“You’ll See” closes Three The Hard Way in a strong manner.  Introduced to a dueling blend of pounding drums and crunchy rhythm guitar, the song gradually builds momentum until it breaks out for an authoritative chorus dealing with the second coming:

Lift up your eyes
He comes as a thief in the night
Then the earth will start to quake
And the moon becomes as blood
The stars will fall from the heavens
You say you don’t believe, you’ll see

Three The Hard Way proves an erratic effort as a result of its inconsistent songwriting and shaky production.  Quality tracks such as “By God” and “My Accuser” showcase the bands potential but others - “Rise Up” and “S.O.S.” come to mind – cannot help but force you to hit the skip button.  The key word, however, is potential in that Jesus Joshua 24:15 certainly does not lack ability and, when at its best, can compose a very fine number.  But if they are going to improve upon their effort here then it is necessary they turn the areas of songwriting and production into strengths.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “By God” (3:18), “The Rut You’re In” (3:26), “Rush To War” (3:01), “My Accuser” (5:09), “Give It Back” (3:45), “Always You Are There” (4:12), “My Dog Can Preach” (3:30), “Rise Up” (3:34), “S.O.S.” (2:30), “3 The Hard Way” (1:00), “You’ll See” (2:54)

Musicians
Steve Pettit – Lead Vocals
Will Rauser – Guitars
Jay Woody – Bass
Bobby Shepherd - 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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