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
Saint - Crime Scene Earth 2.0
   
Musical Style: Classic Metal Produced By: Richard Lynch & Dee Harrington
Record Label: Retroactive Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2010 Artist Website: Saint
Tracks: 10 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 42:04
Saint - Crime Scene Earth 2.0

Saint has been a mainstay in the Christian metal scene since the mid-eighties.  The band debuted in 1984 with the classic metal of its six song EP Warriors Of The Son before following up two years later with more of the same on the full length effort Time’s End.  Returning in 1988 with Too Late For Living, by far the groups finest effort musically to this point, Saint went on extended hiatus until 1999 when it put out the commercial influenced metal of The Perfect Life. Saint took another lengthy break until 2004, releasing its comeback album In The Battle (and returning to its classic metal roots in the process) in addition to re-recording Warriors Of The Son with two previously unreleased bonus tracks.  The Mark, an excellent concept album based around the book of Revelation, followed two years later before Saint put out its latest work in the winter of 2008, Crime Scene Earth.

While Crime Scene Earth was initially an independent release by the band (on its own Armor Records label), in late 2009 it was re-mastered and re-issued by Retroactive Records with new (better) album artwork.  Hence, the new title Crime Scene Earth 2.0.  It also includes the vocal contributions of Josh Kramer on all tracks.  The original version of CSE – as I am sure most of you are aware – featured Josh on just three songs (“Half A Time Measure”, “Crime Scene Earth” and “Invader”) and bassist Richard Lynch the six others.

On CSE Saint stays true to its form by giving us another slab of quality classic metal.  All of the usual “suspects”, of course, come into play when inviting a direct comparison: Judas Priest, Armageddon, Metal Church, Accept and older Utlimatum.  This is best demonstrated on the albums more noteworthy pieces such as the energetic “Half A Time Measure”, apocalyptic “Terror In The Sky”, weighty “Crime Scene Earth” and catchy “Lost”, a musical tribune to the metal scene of the eighties.  Saint “mellows out” – if only just slightly – for the melodic metal of the worshipful “Everlasting God” only to head back in a classic metal direction with the straightforward sounds of “Judas In Me” and “Bent Knee”.  Rounding things out is the Judas Priest cover “Invader”.

So how does CSE measure up when compared to Saint’s back catalog?  Musically, I might rate it a notch below Too Late For Living and The Mark, arguably the groups two finest artistic statements of its three decade career.  That said, it compares very favorably to In The Battle and Time’s End in terms of consistency while ranking ahead of Warriors Of The Son and The Perfect Life.  My overall feeling is that Saint represents one of the few groups that would be difficult – if not impossible – to record a bad album.  With that in mind, if you are a long term Saint fan – or follow the classic metal genre – then my no means will you be disappointed with CSE.

As previously referenced, CSE in its initial form featured both Josh Kramer and Richard Lynch on vocals.  For those owning the original (or interested in obtaining it), I would like to include my analysis of Richard’s performance from my review of CSE following its release in 2008:

“There is only one relevant question at this point: And that is how good of a vocalist is Richard Lynch?  In comparison to Josh, Richard sings in a lower register with a grittier and gruffer vocal delivery.  All in all, he proves very complementary to Saint’s sound and is really not that far removed from what we are used to with Josh. On the other hand, it is this reviewer’s opinion that Josh is the better vocalist- keeping in mind that Richard does not do a bad job.”

So how does Josh do on Richard’s songs?  Well, he sings them in the manner in which they were written; in other words, he stays true to Richard’s courser style by adding an edge of aggression to his delivery. “Everlasting God”, “The Judas In Me” and “Too Many”, for example, find Josh singing in a lower key.  He does, however, smooth things out for “Lost” and “Terror In The Sky” (cutting loose with a high pitched falsetto on the former and utilizing a higher register the latter).

My overall feeling is that Rich did a good job on the initial release; so I feel it is worthwhile to have both versions.

The other change to report is the return of guitarist Jerry Johnson (Jerry was part of the group at the time of In The Battle but sat out The Mark).  This leaves Saint with a VERY talented guitar team when factoring in the contributions of holdover Dee Harrington.  As one might expect, lead guitar represents an area of strength: just give “Terror In The Sky”, “Crime Scene Earth” and “Bent Knee” several listens and you will understand my point.

Production values to the Retroactive re-issue are a step forward.  I cannot help but think that J Powell at Steinhaus was successful in bringing a classic 70’s sound to CSE 2.0.  When compared to the original, the rhythm guitars deliver added bite while the drums stand out further in the mix.

Saint - Crime Scene Earth original artwork

Track By Track

Crime Scene Earth starts to a short instrumental – untitled and not part of the track listing – that is carried by guitar feedback until a driving rhythm guitar kicks in.

“Half A Time Measure” jumps out of the gate at an upbeat tempo only to smooth out upon obtaining its first verse.  The song proceeds to grind ahead to a bristling rhythm guitar, gaining initiative during its bridge only to culminate for a spirited chorus sustained by the high end feel to Josh’s vocal delivery.  Fast, energetic and exciting, “Half A Time Measure” represents Saint at its very best.  The holocaust is the subject matter here:

And you should see it
The faces of pain
Death has his grip on them in the rail cars
The monsters insane

Four years of torment
Forgotten alone
Howl long oh Lord will you leave use to die?
Forsaking your own

“Terror In The Sky” is also top of the line Saint.  A bass guitar solo gets the song underway before a pulsating rhythm guitar takes over, driving things forward at a fixed mid-tempo pace until a brief but stalwart chorus is achieved.  A fluidly mixed guitar solo brings out the best in a song dealing with the second coming:

See the Son glow
Up in the night
God sent holy soldiers
Through the sky

Whitehorse swings the sickle
The One with the flaming eyes
Until the curse is all but over
Here’s your pair of dice

Saint heads in a melodic metal direction with the worship anthem “Everlasting God”.  The song delivers a symphonic touch as a hint of keyboards decorate the backdrop, amalgamating a melodic based chorus with a run of lead guitar on the searing side of things.  As previously stated, this one comes across worshipful in feel:

You are the everlasting God
You are the One we bring our praise to
You are the everlasting God
You are the One we bring our praise to

Muscular would be the best way to describe the albums title track.  With a buzz-saw rhythm guitar tearing up the prodigious environs, “Crime Scene Earth” dominates its staunch verse portions and a punch-laden chorus that focuses on the crucifixion:

Crime scene earth
See the cattails ripping off His flesh
Crime scene earth
Where the nails were pound and His side was pierced
Crime scene earth
Hear His innocent blood scream forgive
Crime scene earth

The lead work this time around is delivered in full Saint-style intensity.

“The Judas In Me” is another too the point composition.  The song moves forward at an upbeat tempo from the start, compelling itself with dogged abandon until gaining a hold of an abrupt chorus delivered in curt sounding fashion.  The aggressive lead work stands in perfect complement to the animated scene.  “The Judas In Me” also touches upon the crucifixion:

Kicked and scratched and bruised
As You take the cross for me
It’s so sad you see
Free the Judas in me

The only song on CSE I struggle with is “Too Many”.  The overall feeling conveyed is heavy handed, reflected in the repetitive feel to the songs chorus and the fact at over five minutes it is a bit long winded.  I tend to pass although I can see how others might get into it.

The Judas Priest cover “Invader” finds Josh delivering his most even vocal performance of the album.  This one proves a quality example of songwriting, taking a catchy guitar riff and joining it with a chorus that gives rise to a near mesmerizing feel.  Lyrically, “Invader” seems to touch upon the aftermath of a nuclear war:

I came across a smoking field, pulsating afterglow
I saw a searing flash of light erupt and skyward go
I staggered back in dazed surprise
What was it I had seen?
And as I stood there mesmerized I heard my spirit scream

“Bent Knee” stands out as quintessential Saint with its driving guitar riff, powerful lead vocal approach and hard hitting chorus.  No, this might not be the albums catchiest pieces but the bands weighty performance – featuring a stretch of over the top lead guitar – puts it over the top.  Grace is the subject to “Bent Knee”:

Grace falls upon a bended knee
At His feet upon the skull
Grace fall onto a bended knee
To the cross I want to crawl

“Lost” starts fast and furious to several seconds of lightning-like riffing.  Evening out for its first verse as the rhythm guitar crashes in and out of the mix, the song regains its lost momentum by kicking and clawing its way to a catchy chorus coming across as a tribune to the metal scene of the eighties:

Lost in the eighties
Van Halen Blvd
When Schenker rocked the world
I wanna be a rock star
Down to the valley
The valley of the Priest

It does not get much better than this, huh?  All in all, this also represents quintessential Saint that closes a very good album in a strong manner.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Intro” (1:15), “Half A Time Measure” (6:05), “Terror In The Sky” (5:30), “Everlasting God” (4:23), “Crime Scene Earth” (4:25), “The Judas In Me” (3:35), “Too Many” (5:03), “Invader” (4:15), “Bended Knee” (3:29), “Lost” (4:05)

Musicians
Josh Kramer – Lead Vocals
Richard Lynch – Lead Vocals & Bass
Dee Harrington – Guitars & Bass
Jerry Johnson – Guitars & Bass
Larry London – Drums

Also Reviewed: Saint – Time’s End, Saint – In The Battle, Saint – Warriors Of The Son: 20th Anniversary Addition, Saint – Live 05, Saint – The Mark

 

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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