|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Peter Furler|
|Record Label: Inpop||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website: Petra|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 31:09|
The melodic rock band Petra has released several albums over the years with more than their fair share of hard rocking moments - On Fire and Not Of This World are the first that come to mind - but none of the bands past efforts rock with quite the same authority as its most recent outing Jekyll & Hyde. A great deal of credit for this achievement, nevertheless, must be given to founding member Bob Hartman for the incredibly tight and heavy rhythm guitar sound he lays down. That being said, a weakness in the bands instrumental sound betrays Hartman's inability to contribute little in the way if any relevant lead guitar work to the project. With "Stand" being the lone exception, the instrumental portions to most of the albums tracks are either limited to a few seconds of rhythm guitar or are missing altogether. While Hartman is a capable musician, if he is not inclined to solo then it would have been my choice to bring in a guest guitarist such as Tony Palacios (Guardian) or Rex Carroll (Whitecross) to handle the albums lead guitar duties. Lead vocalist John Schlitt (Head East), who has been with the band since the mid-eighties, contributes a terrific classic hard rock voice that perfectly complements the bands move to a more guitar driven sound. Please note that the albums liner notes fail to specify the musicians performing on bass guitar and drums.
In terms of the albums production, the rhythm guitar - heavy and crunchy and placed right up front in the mix - is produced to utter perfection. Due to an element of muddiness in the albums low end, however, neither the bass nor drums stand out in the mix as they should.
Upon hearing the metal flavored riff opening "Jekyll & Hyde" I immediately asked myself "Is this REALLY Petra?" You bet it is! And on the albums title track the band pulls no punches in combining a driving rhythm guitar sound and a good catchy chorus with a message based around Romans 7:15:
I have a secret that I let nobody see
An evil shadow that's been hanging over me
My alter ego that I try to hold at bay (but)
Despite my good intentions he can always get away
He does the things that I don't want to die
Sometime I feel like Jekyll & Hyde
"All About Who You Know" advances through its verse portions at a slower more mid-tempo pace until it gains momentum for a strong vocal harmony driven chorus. The only drawback to the song comes in the form of its lack of an instrumental passage.
As previously stated, "Stand" is the albums only track in which Hartman cuts loose and solos, the songs last forty five seconds fortified by his tastefully done lead guitar work. A first rate chorus backed by a touch of vocal harmonies helps place "Stand" among the albums better tracks.
While "Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda" is driven from front to back by a good hard rocking rhythm guitar sound, a weak pop flavored chorus prevents it from bearing up under repeated play. The song focuses on dealing with the past:
Life is filled with many chances
Some you took and some you blew
Your path in life can turn over so quickly on
On everything you say
And change with everything you do
I know that was then
There's nothing I can do about what might have been
After a quietly played guitar line takes "Perfect World" through its first verse, the rhythm guitar kicks in at the start of the second and leads the way to a catchy hook filled chorus. Only the lack of an instrumental passage detracts from what otherwise is a very fine number.
An open air rhythm guitar underscores Schlitt's gritty voice during the first verse of "Test Of Time" before the rhythm section enters the mix upon reaching the second. Background vocals reinforce a chorus with a good commercial flavored hook. Once again, a musically solid number fails to reach its potential due to its lack of an instrumental passage.
“I Will Seek You” highlights a trade off between Schlitt and a driving rhythm guitar as it moves through its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar takes charge, it bolsters a very fine melodic based chorus. The failure to include an instrumental passage leaves the song to be found wanting.
Introduced by a quietly played guitar line, “Life As We Know It” is carried by an upfront mix of rhythm guitar to a radio friendly chorus progressing at an upbeat tempo. An instrumental passage limited to several seconds of rhythm guitar fails to make the grade. "Life As We Know It" conveys a simple but straightforward message:
But perfectly forgiven
While the acoustic based ballad "Till Everything I Do" showcases a very fine melody line, I feel the song would have stood out in the more noteworthy manner if it had been backed by a crisp sounding rhythm guitar. "Till Everything I Do" is based around Colossians 3:17:
Till everything I do I do for You
Through every test of faith You take me through
Till every path I take is straight and true
An acoustic guitar carries "Sacred Trust" through its first verse until a touch of rhythm guitar enters the mix and drives a chorus I might describe as above-average to good at best. Two minutes into the song, however, the rhythm guitar moves directly to the front of the mix hard and heavy before transitioning back to a more reduced role several seconds later.
After repeated listening, I find that there is a lot to like about Jekyll & Hyde. And what the album lacks in instrumental prowess, it more than makes up for in a terrific upfront rhythm guitar sound. It is also worth pointing out that Jekyll & Hyde features a great deal of material that is quite solid from a musical standpoint: "Jekyll & Hyde", "Stand", "Perfect World", "Test Of Time" and "I Will Seek You" all standing out with noteworthy melodies. Finally, while I hope the hard rock direction of Jekyll & Hyde remains an ongoing trend, I would like to encourage the band to bring in a guest guitarist to handle the lead guitar work of any follow up effort it records.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Jekyll & Hyde" (3:04), "All About Who You Know" (2:35), "Stand" (3:19), "Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda" (2:58), "Perfect World" (3:13), "Test Of Time" (3:00), "I Will Seek You" (2:34)," Life As We Know It" (3:27), "Till Everything I Do" (3:03), "Sacred Trust" (3:52)
John Schlitt – Lead Vocals
Bob Harman - Guitars
Also Reviewed: Petra - On Fire!