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
Letter 7 - Salt Of The Earth
Musical Style: Heavy Metal Produced By: JD Evans
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2007 Artist Website: Letter 7
Tracks: 11 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 46:56
Letter 7 - Salt Of The Earth

The Phoenix, Arizona area has become quite the hotbed of quality Christian metal in recent years.  Tykkus was one of the first bands to hit the scene, debuting in 2005 with the blend of melodic metal and classic metal of its energetic five song EP ÜmlautTroglodyte Dawn is another group worth mentioning.  Featuring former Tykkus lead vocalist Randy Michaud, Troglodyte Dawn combines elements of progressive doom, ambient music and worship on the self-titled album it put out in 2003.  Letter 7, a project led by songwriter and guitarist JD Evans and professional vocalist Tom Collete, delivers an eighties influenced blend of melodic metal and hard rock on its 2007 full length outing Salt Of The Earth.

Letter 7 is quite the promising act, exhibiting its potential by merging a profusion of guitar driven energy and notable melodies to create a sound certain to appeal to fans of Dokken, Stryper, Fifth Angel, Holy Soldier, Whitecross, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Red Sea and Judas Priest.  Salt Of The Earth, for example, finds the band in top form on up-tempo numbers “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “Salt Of The Earth” and “Stand On The Rock” in addition to proving equally adept on the mid-tempo sounds of “Fear No Evil”, “First Love” and “Reign Comes Down”.  A blues influenced direction is taken on “Almost Home” and “Judgment Day” – two quality pieces that bring to mind Red Sea – while “Great I Am” can best be described as a metal worship anthem.   

JD Evans handles nearly all the instrumentation here, including lead and rhythm guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and lead vocals on one track.  His lead guitar work, mostly of the scorching variety, stands out best on “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “Almost Home”, “Judgment Day” and “Stand On The Rock”.  A more impassioned side to his playing, on the other hand, can be found on “Fear No Evil” and “First Love”.  On the one song he furnishes lead vocals, “Seek First”, he does a very fine job in displaying a vocal delivery reminiscent to that of Phil Keaggy.

Tom Collete contributes lead vocals on the remainder of the albums material, putting forth quite the professional showing with a classic tenor vocal style that compares favorably to Rob Rock (Impellitteri), Ted Pilot (Fifth Angel), Robin Kyle Basauri (Die Happy, Red Sea) and David Coverdale (Whitesnake).  Yes, very good company indeed, but the quality is every bit as high.  “Salt Of The Earth” finds him cutting loose in high pitched fashion, while he showcases a flood of emotion on “Fear No Evil” and “First Love”.  His gut level and soulful flavorings, at the same time, help bring out the best in “Almost Home” and “Judgment Day”.

The production values to Salt Of The Earth reflect a crisp sounding feel in successfully capturing the bands natural and all out raw energy.

Lyrically, this proves an upfront and boldly Christian effort that addresses themes ranging from spiritual warfare, faith, seeking our first love and the need for salvation.

The album begins to a brief introduction featuring narration from Ephesians 6:12.

The anthem “Onward Christian Soldiers” jumps out of the gate at an upbeat tempo, hurling itself forward with a profusion of steadfast impetus until a chorus of an energetic and poignant variety is obtained.  JD highlights the ardent scene with a stretch of showy work on lead guitar.  Spiritual warfare is the subject here:

The call to arms is upon us now
The battle must be won
Powered by the Holy Ghost
The Father and the Son

Sword of truth
Shield of faith
Helmet of salvation
Project us now, we’ll stand our ground
Resisting all temptation

“Salt Of The Earth” maintains the resolute momentum.  A thumping bass line gets things going before the rhythm guitar crashes into the mix, impelling the song ahead until it abruptly slows to a quietly played guitar line for its first verse.  “Salt Of The Earth” proceeds to gradually build in initiative before the rhythm guitar returns to drive a powerfully delivered chorus backed by a trace of shouted vocal harmonies.  The albums title track is aptly named:

In a darkened world we shine
Like stars up in the sky
Holding out the Holy Word of life
We walk upon this land
And for Christ we stand

Called to live our lives righteously
Jesus told us from the start
Blessed are the pure in heart
For they will surely feel the presence of the Lord

“Fear No Evil” ranks with the albums better tracks.  Opening to several seconds of eerie sounding keyboards, the song slowly churns ahead once the rhythm guitar makes its presence felt only to decelerate upon reaching its first verse.  Keyboards smoothly lead the way at a mid-tempo clip, the rhythm guitar not rebounding until the intensity level escalates just prior to an emotionally charged chorus giving rise to an abundance of sublime appeal.  I enjoy how the song tapers off for a lengthy run of blues flavored lead guitar work.  “Fear No Evil” delivers a faith based message:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Your Word is light upon my path
And a lamp unto my feet
Without you I lose all control
But you give me the peace that I long for

The power ballad “First Love” commences to a blend of acoustic guitar and quietly played lead guitar, maintaining the laid back tempo for its first verse before attaining an impassioned chorus reinforced by an impermeable wall of rhythm guitar.  A gritty guitar solo stands in perfect complement to the songs bluesy and emotional feel.  “First Love” talks about exactly that:

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from you
You seem so distant and I can’t get through
How long will you stay away
While your heart grows colder day by day
Open your eyes see how I care for you
All those times I was still there for you

Come back to your first love…

“Great I Am” is a high-octane metal worship anthem.  Introduced to a drum solo, the song kicks into high gear to a rollicking guitar riff that carries it in vibrant fashion to a chorus that comes across worshipful in capacity:

We adore you, bow before You
Precious Savior, Son of God
We adore you, bow before You
Blood atoning, Holy perfect Lamb
The Great I Am

What we have here is an explosion of all out and non-stop energy and emotion.

“Almost Home” is the first of two very well done blues based hard rockers.  Gently compelled through its first verse by an acoustic guitar, the song break out with an abundance of fury as the rhythm guitar takes over and leads the way to a catchy chorus in which a stalwart environment is put into place.  JD is all over the place here with his razor sharp and driving riffs.  Great, great song with equally profound meaning:

Winding road I’ve walked so long
Heaven knows where I’m going
But I trust in the Lord and put my faith in His name
And I know I’ll make it home
Everyday t his life grows closer to the end
All around you see it, time and time again

Well I’m almost home
I don’t need to see the signs
I can feel it in my bones
Yes I’m almost home
Lord take me home

Immediately kicking in at an upbeat tempo, “Judgment Day” sustains the spirited impetus as it navigates its verse portions on the way to a brief but hook filled chorus fortified by heavy duty vocal harmonies.  A sweeping instrumental section is carried by a blend of guitar harmony and invigorating lead work.  Collete sings his guts out here.  “Judgment Day” conveys a no-nonsense message:

You feel the fire from the heavens
Warnings from the sky
Darkness all around, the lost are never found
And no one hears your cries
The Son of God is coming for His chosen few

On judgment day
Will you feel the wrath of God
Judgment day

“Stand On The Rock” slowly fades in to guitar feedback before taking off to a quickly moving guitar riff.  Quietly tapering off at the start of its first verse, the song calmly moves ahead as momentum gradually builds for a lively chorus that proves every bit as inspired as it is uplifting:

Stand on the Rock
Protected by His power
Stand on the Rock
Holy is His name

A high-octane guitar solo brings out the best in a song that delivers great truth:

God of salvation You have made me strong
Upon Your Holy name I’ll call
I’m holding on to You
Your promises are true
You never let the righteous fall
God is my victory
Lord of Lords and King of Kings

“Reign Comes Down” opens to a drum solo prior to trudging ahead to a chugging guitar riff.  Moving through its verse portions with the rhythm guitar hammering in and out of the mix, a touch of vocal harmonies highlights the song previous to a pointed chorus delivered with a profusion of hard hitting authority.  The lyrics here come across pointed in nature:

You hear the Word but it makes no sense to you
You close your eyes so the lies become your truth
Sometimes I wonder if you’ll ever see at all
I hope it’s soon ‘cause you’re about to fall
Nowhere to run nowhere to hide
Your life is rational lies

What you gonna do
When the reign comes down on you

“Seek First”, a slower paced and acoustic based number, closes the album with a smooth sounding vocal performance from JD and lyrics drawn from Matthew 6:33:

Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven
And all these things will be added to you
Seek first the Kingdom of God
And all these things will be added to you

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Intro” (:34), “Onward Christian Soldiers” (4:01), “Salt Of The Earth” (5:00), “Fear No Evil” (5:56), “First Love” (4:54), “Great I Am” (3:43), “Almost Home” (4:56), “Judgment Day” (3:49), “Stand On The Rock” (4:40), “Reign Comes Down” (4:54), “Seek First” (4:30)

JD Evans – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboards & Lead Vocals
Tom Collete – Lead Vocals

Guest Musicians
Daryl Evans – Keyboards
Ken Orth - Bass

Also Reviewed: Letter 7 - Follow The Light


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