|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin:|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website: Joshua's Creed|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 44:59|
The summer of 2016 debut full length of Kalispell, Montana based Joshua’s Creed has all the bases covered when it comes to coalescing the best aspects of traditional and classic heavy metal: resounding guitars that command a forward place in the mix, a strapping bass presence anchoring the low end and commanding lead vocals of the projection filled variety. Joshua’s Creed is actually the project of guitarist, bassist and founding member Derek Close, whom gained initial renown for his demo work with My Cat Puddinhead, Judah and About This Big in addition to collaboration with Sanctyfied on its 2007 album Flying High. He has remained every bit busy as a solo artist, debuting in 2011 with an instrumental Christmas album prior to following up three years later with the joining of vocal and instrumental tracks that is his sophomore release The Beta Sessions. Fronting Joshua’s Creed is Dillon Reynolds, previously lead vocalist of Flawed By Design and solo artist in his own right with an acoustic EP The Living Dead from the spring of 2016, while rounding out its line up is drum arranger and programmer Tanner Mack.
Pigeonholing Joshua’ Creed, an act that draws its moniker from Joshua 24:15, in terms of style classification proves problematic. Yes, the group draws upon a classic metal basis, with its press material stating (and for good reason I might add!): ‘One thing that has been said about us: If Iron Maiden and Judas Priest had a love child, it would be Joshua's Creed.’ No doubt if NWOBHM is your cup of tea - I might also include Barren Cross, Saint, Atkins May Project, Armageddon USA and Oblivion Myth as potential points of reference - then I can see Joshua’s Creed being of interest. That said repeat listen to Joshua’s Creed also reveals a bit more than meets the eye.
It starts with the driving guitar riffs of Close that at times pushes the Joshua’s Creed sound into straightforward hard rock territory, which should not surprise in light of his musical background. Consider, for instance, how the 75% Angelic Warlord review described The Beta Sessions as ‘drawing heavily upon blues based hard rock’ in ‘walking a fine line between Rez Band and F.O.G.’. Other acts mentioned in the review include Thieves & Liars, Mission Of One, Under Command and Cornerstone/Stonefuze- and for good reason.
It also encompasses Reynolds, whom with his at times raw and raspy and others even vocal style brings to Joshua’s Creed an eighties melodic metal vibe. I do not think I am out of line to suggest he reminds of Rexx Roxx (Chaotic Resemblance) with touches of Jamie Rowe (Guardian, AdrianGale) and Larry Worley (Fear Not, Liberty N’ Justice) thrown in. When further factoring the youthful and punk-like angst to his delivery - Flawed Design is known for its nu-metal based sound - the Joshua’s Creed energy levels end up pumped well into the upper stratosphere.
All these influences converge on opener “Alive”, a bass heavy and mid-paced mauler that walks a fine line between all out metal (in terms of elevated guitar signatures) and hard rock (referencing the blues based propensity throughout). Success to the song - and similar to much of the Joshua’ Creed material - owes to how the group strategically aligns aspects of the heavy and understated melody in equal portions.
“It Is Finished” maintains the rumbling low-end demeanor. The song proves freight train like with its stout mid-paced focus, gaining decisive momentum upon hitting the rabid energy of its high-strung refrain as the ‘it is finished’ title is repeated in impassioned fashion. In staying true to the theme at hand, “It Is Finished” transitions between passages that (as taken from the liner notes) are entitled ‘Passover’, ‘In The Garden’, ‘The Betrayal’, ‘Before Pilate’ and ‘Crucifixion’.
“The Sky Is Falling” represents the Joshua’s Creed showcase song, referencing the lyric video in which it recorded (see below). This one contrasts with the preceding two in terms of its up-tempo essence, upping the all out energy exponentially with the abundant hooks to its robust chorus and hyperactive drum penchant defining the every bit brazen verses. I can see Barren Cross doing something along these lines and sounding right at home.
“Choose” is first of the albums two cuts in excess of six minutes. The slamming trade off between bass and guitar that opens it sets the heated tone, with the blistering riffs and technical acumen that ensues brings to mind the classic Rage Of Angels cut “Are You Ready For Thunder?” Heavyset backing vocals step forward to back nothing less a plundering refrain. My favorite part is the interlude at the halfway point in which sturdy bass holds sway.
“Four Horsemen” returns things to cutting mid-tempo territory. The song pushes the heaviness to the limit, with boldfaced guitar harmonies powering things ahead as a striking resonance established an apocalyptic feel in line with the title in question. I cannot help but be reminded of mid-period Saint when factoring the overpowering guitar foundation put in place.
Up-tempo from the get go, “Buried In The Womb” slices with its straight on eighties metal charged riffs - do I detect a faint hint of Neon Cross? - and joining of even vocals (for the jolting verses) and those taking a harsher tone (upon reaching the catchy chorus). This song just plain kicks in representing Joshua’s Creed at its fiery best.
“Consequences” proves quintessential Rez Band style hard rock. What we have here is a track that hits hard as it gets, rough-hewn with its malicious sensibilities but also accessible from playing up massive groove driven bass underpinnings. Give credit to Reynolds for putting in the albums most scratchy to gritty to every bit expansive vocal performance.
“God Must Be Crazy” is the lone track in which I struggle despite a similar straightforward hard rock leaning. Yes, this one rollicks every bit as much and pushes the aggression exponentially, but also does not quite connect with me from a chorus that borders a bit too much on the repetitive (at least that is what I am hearing). That extra hook, pointed guitar line and sense of melody inherent to the better material is missing here.
“House Of Cards” does the better job highlighting the Joshua’s Creed strengths. A return to the group’s barebones metal infused with melody ways, the song delivers a spirited affluence in rumbling front to back with a single-minded low end and galloping refrain in which a victorious feel plays a lead role. Reynolds complements the song with the smooth sounding feel to his delivery.
Closing things is albums second six-minute piece, “Where Everything Dies”. Another choice example of scintillating mid-paced impetus, the song shines with its candid bass facets and defining start to finish melody, albeit without forsaking the group’s penchant for heaviness. With its dramatic if not climactic feel, “Where Everything Dies” culminates near the end as it proclaims ‘on the cross Christ was crucified’.
Production could use a touch of polish, but it otherwise is solid for an independent release. Of note is how guitars play a commanding role in the mix (as they should), while bass makes every bit the pronounced low-end statement (Close is quite the underrated bassist).
Accept as observation and not a critique when I say that the group used programmed drums. No, nothing against programmed drums (they sound fine), but wouldn’t you rather have the spontaneity and intuition that goes hand in hand with a human drummer instead? Programmed drums, for instance, are not going to insist on performing a second (or third or fourth) take to ensure things are up to standard not to mention offer input regarding a projects creative direction. In no way do I intend to knock Joshua’s Creed in this capacity, keeping in mind that Kalispell, Montana is not the musical mecca that is say, Nashville, so perhaps a live drummer was not available.
But that is beside the point when one considers how too much of society is turning automated, particularly when I hear rumors of ‘self driving’ vehicles and fast food chains doing away with workers in favor of placing orders via a ‘kiosk’. What’s next, automated albums in which not just the drums but also the guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals are programmed? When the human aspect ends up factored out of the equation regardless of the endeavor, the end-result is potentially lifeless due to being devoid of the feelings, emotions and ultimately the shortcomings that truly set us apart as human to begin with.
It also deserves note that guitar soloing might not be of the virtuoso variety but is by no means chopped liver either. Close does a more than capable job on guitar, but at times I feel his soloing might have better stood out if it had been more varied or at the very least further extended in places. It would be interesting to hear what the results might have been if the group had recruited several guest guitarists along the lines of JD Evans, Pastor Brad, Jon Hooper and Chris Dickens for variety purposes.
It is suffice to say that Joshua’s Creed is a Christian band, as lyrics aptly attest (lone complaint is that lyrics are printed in a font so small a magnifying glass is required to read them). Good news is that Joshua’s Creed maintains a strong sense of lyrics wit, such as on “The Sky Is Falling”:
We might be hit by asteroids
Will they release the army droids?
Email spam, computer glitch
The dollar bill has lost its worth
Will aliens attack the earth?
Where is all the money spent?
Chinese landlord wants his rent
Whatever will we do?
Chicken little has a message for you
The sky is falling!
Otherwise, the group addresses creation on “Alive”:
Now the earth was without form and void
The deep in darkness covered
The Spirit of the Living God just hovered
The face upon the water stared
Lifeless in the silence
The voice of the Lord spoke these words
Let there be light!
And walking in faith on “God Must Be Crazy”:
Christ called Peter from the shore
Cast your nets again
Follow me and leave the shores
From now on you’ll catch men
I don’t know what you see in me
For sin has stained my hands
Depart O Lord and let me be
Christ said you’re my man
Joshua’s Creed makes its strongest lyrical statement on “Where Everything Dies”:
Redemption plan, sacrificial Lamb
To our Saviour: we plead, we call
Hear our cry, come heal our land
Take us back, before the fall
In the world where everything dies
On a cross Christ was crucified
From the grave He arose again alive
Were free from
Where everything dies
All things added up, I enjoy Joshua’s Creed and its self-titled debut offering, which stands out with some very fine classic metal to straightforward hard rock material. Of note is the groups aggressive but engaging songwriting touch, as “Where Everything Dies”, “Choose”, “It Is Finished”, “The Sky Is Falling” and “Buried In The Womb” aptly attest. Repeat listen reveals the combination of guitarist/bassist Derek Close and vocalist Dillon Reynolds a winning one in which I look forward to hearing more from in the future. Despite some production misgivings and one skip button (my opinion either way), fans of the genres represents are encourage to check Joshua’s Creed out.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Alive” (3:54), “It Is Finished” (3:19), “The Sky Is Falling” (3:15), “Choose” (6:24), “Four Horsemen” (4:45), “Buried In The Womb” (4:19), “Consequences” (5:04), “God Must Be Crazy” (3:33), “House Of Cards” (3:51),”Where Everything Dies” (6:35)
Dillon Reynolds - Lead Vocals
Derek Close - Guitars & Bass
Tanner Mack - Drum Programming & Arrangement