|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Ken Tamplin|
|Record Label: Frontline||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1989||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 41:13|
Sophomore albums can be hit and miss. It has been my experience that they do not always live up to the promise delivered on the debut, a trend followed by Thieves & Liars on its first two releases, When Dreams Become Reality (2008) and American Rock ‘N’ Roll (2009). But more often than not when a band enters the studio for the second time the end result is the more consistent, polished and well rounded work. That would be the best way to describe the progress made by Barren Cross between Rock For The King (1986) and Atomic Arena (1988).
Southern California based Shout made a similar transition from its first album, It Won’t Be Long (1988), to its stunning sophomore release In Your Face (1989). As aptly entitled work as you will find, In Your Face features the greater guitar driven proclivity and backs it with catchier choruses and more notable melodies to create one of the finer Christian melodic metal albums of the eighties.
If you are interested in a blending of hard hitting guitar riffs and catchy hooks then look no further than “Borderline” and “Gettin’ Ready”. “When The Love Is Gone” and “Faith, Hope And Love” are infectious radio friendly numbers and “Waiting On You” a top of the line ballad. The albums scorching title track features a plethora of guest guitar appearances and “It’s All I Need” a bluesy hard rock mentality. Shout even recorded a video of the showstopper “Give Me An Answer”.
Credit founding member Ken Tamplin for the quality songwriting, which more than holds its own against the best the mainstream scene had to offer at the time (FM radio where were you?). My overall feeling is that In Your Face features some of the finest compositions of Tamplin’s career, but as an overall artistic statement, ranks just below projects he later recorded such as Magdallan’s Big Bang (1992) and his self-titled “green” solo album from 1993. The main reason being is that In Your Face brings an element of inconsistency found in a couple of filler tracks: “Getting On With Life” and “Ain’t Givin’ Up (The Pay The Bills Song)”.
Tamplin is the glue that holds everything together. Not only is he the group’s main songwriter, but also its lead vocalist and co-lead guitarist (sharing duties with Chuck King). Now, rarely do we see such a unique combination of vocal prowess and guitar abilities but Tamplin represents the exception in that he does everything (both) exceedingly well.
Vocally, he brings a smooth sounding presence laced with touches of grit that draws upon the influences of Lou Gramm (Foreigner) and David Coverdale (Whitesnake). All around, Tamplin to this day remains one of my all time favorite rock vocalists (irregardless of genre or style).
Guitar wise, his work throughout the project, particularly the soloing “When The Love Is Gone” and “Waiting For You”, proves he is one of the underrated musicians of his era (or any era). The open air guitar solo “Moonlight Sonata (In 32nd Notes)” deserves mention as well.
Rounding out the rhythm section are former Joshua members Loren Robinson (bass) and Joseph Galletta (drums). Mark Hugonberger returns on keyboards.
“Borderline” starts slowly to a backdrop of atmospheric keyboards, not picking up in pace until an all out onslaught of guitars steps forward. At this point we are on, a crunch heavy milieu prevailing as the way is paved for a refined chorus and extended instrumental interlude driven by some cool lead and rhythm guitar interplay.
The pace slows with “When The Love Is Gone”, an equally enticing track standing out with a huge chorus hook guaranteed to have you singing along in no time. The vocal melodies sound as if they were taken straight off Stryper’s To Hell With The Devil. The lead work? Again, evidence that Tamplin never got the credit he deserves in this area.
“Give Me An Answer” might not be quite as catchy as the two preceding it – yes, the hook is there but just not as prevalent – but brings a smooth sheen exuding just the right amount of gloss and polish (and I say this in a positive sense: just check out the chorus). Otherwise, we have an upbeat hard rocker with a rousing feel and more of Tamplin’s flashy soloing.
“Faith, Hope And Love” is another radio friendly number. Highlighted by traces of keyboards, the song slowly maneuvers its verses only to break out for a prodigious chorus that borders on the anthem-like in capacity. Needless to say, you will face an uphill struggle to keep the melody out of your head. Once more, FM radio where were you during this period?
In “Gettin’ Ready” we encounter one of the albums heavier pieces. It all comes down to the chorus: Delivered with aggression and backbone but with ample catchiness to ensure your return time and again. The verses, ironically, almost come across low-key in feel- the rhythm guitar does not fully flex its muscles until the previously referenced chorus is obtained. Interestingly, the song fades out to the sound of the master tape speeding up until it literally flies off the recording deck.
The aptly entitled “In Your Face” is a five minute barn burner. By far the albums fastest, the song is a literal slugfest of riffs and soloing provided by some very talented guest musicians: Lanny Cordola (House Of Lords), Michael Angelo (Nitro), Mary Friedman (Cacophony), Randy Hansen (Jimmy Hendrix Tribute), Joey Price (Thunderball) and Alex Masi (Masi). I particularly enjoy how the players in question trade off throughout the instrumental section closing out the final two minutes (in the same manner as “Hour Of Dawn” off Rob Rock’s 2003 solo release Eyes Of Eternity).
“Getting On With Life” is one of a couple of tracks here that fails to make the grade. A mid-paced hard rocker, the song does not bring the same level of detail characterizing the albums better material, reflected in its weak chorus hook and pedestrian feel. Yes, you will find some cool 70’s influences organ but not enough to put it over the top.
The ballad “Waiting On You” gets things back on track. Similar to “Find A Way” (off It Won’t Be Long) it proves a quality piece with its keyboard driven verses and enticing chorus laced with acoustic guitar. The pace picks up for an instrumental passage carried by a run of determined lead guitar.
“Moonlight Sonata (In 32nd Notes)”, a thirty second open air guitar solo, gives way to “It’s All I Need”. What we have in “It’s All I Need” is a gritty and bluesy slab of hard rock bringing the albums penchant for catchy hooks and meaty guitar riffs you can sink your teeth into. Tamplin sings in a lower key here, which complements the music at hand. All around, “It’s All I Need” is an overlooked “deep cut” in Shout’s repertoire.
Closing things out is “Ain’t Givin’ Up (The Pay The Bills Song)”. Despite the passing of over 20 years I have failed to warm up to this one, a flat as it gets four minutes of straightforward hard rock that has filler written all over it. The inspiration of top of the line songs such as “Borderline” and “Faith, Hope And Love” is missing.
Shout’s sophomore release In Your Face has classic eighties melodic metal written all over it. Tamplin delivers some of the finest songwriting of his career while maintaining his penchant for quality vocals and guitar work. Hooks there are in abundance – I cannot help but feel several songs here deserved to be radio hits – while the guest guitar appearances add to the albums value. The only element holding things back from perfection is a couple of filler tracks.
After the release of In Your Face, Shout changed its name to 40 Grit due to a legal dispute with a Boston based group of the same name. The Tamplin version of the band had the legal right to sell records but could not perform in any of the territories the Boston version had performed in. Shout/40 Grit later broke up in the early nineties only to reform and release a comeback album, Shout Back, in 1999.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Borderline” (4:37), “When The Love Is Gone” (4:16), “Give Me An Answer” (3:50), “Faith, Hope And Love” (3:36), “Gettin’ Ready” (3:47), “In Your Face” (5:17), “Getting On With Life” (3:55), “Waiting On You” (3:49), “Moonlight Sonata (In 32nd Notes)” (:29), “It’s All I Need” (3:27), “Ain’t Givin’ Up (The Pay The Bills Song)” (3:50)
Ken Tamplin – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Chuck King – Guitars
Loren Robinson – Bass
Joseph Galletta - Drums
Mark Hugonberger – Keyboards
Lanny Cordola, Michael Angelo, Mary Friedman, Randy Hansen & Joey Price Alex Masi - Guitars