|Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock||Produced By: Frank levin|
|Record Label: Image 7||Country Of Origin: Canada|
|Year Released: 1991||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 42:44|
“Many people have felt we’re alienating the Christian market because we are doing secular shows – I personally don’t feel I’m in either the secular or the Christian market place right now, but rather in the educational market.”
Ottawa, Canada based Siloam is the brainchild of a talented drummer by the name of Brian Lutes. Coming out of a real street wise background, Lutes became a Christian after nearly dying of a drug overdose but went back to the streets in order to work with kids and relate the Gospel to them in a creditable way. Lutes, In the meantime, had given up music altogether until he was approached by his pastor who said he had a dream of him being involved in a band called Siloam (drawing its name from John 9:7). Proceeding to jam and play at church on Sunday, Lutes got together with a partner of his from another band, Tom Saidek, and started holding auditions in Los Angeles and Europe. After auditioning a total of 70 guitarist and 40 vocalist, the two settled on a vocalist and bassist who both hail from Boston, Lee Guthrie and Chad Everett respectively, and a keyboardist from Vermont in Ken Maris. Lead guitarist Tim Laroche was recruited out of Iceland. Immediately after its line up was put together, Siloam entered the studio and began work on its 1991 Image 7 debut Sweet Destiny.
The best way to describe Siloam would be a blend of melodic hard rock and melodic rock with commercial metal tendencies. Sweet Destiny actually flows quite well from front to back in that it includes no filler tracks, best showcasing the bands songwriting skills on energetic hard rockers such as “Chemical King (Big Fight)” and “Eastern Skies” in addition to “Here I Am Again” and “Sweet Destiny” with their radio friendly sensibilities. The band even turns it up a notch on the guitar driven metal of “Lethal Lady” while delivering two customary – though very well done – commercial ballads in “Child Of Mine” and “After The Fire”. In the end, if you happen to be a fan of Stryper, Holy Soldier, Guardian, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and others in the same genre then Siloam is certain to appeal to you.
Lee Guthrie, bringing a clean sounding and high end vocal style, exercises a great deal of voice control while showcasing his diversity by adding some edge to his delivery on “Eastern Skies” and “Chemical King (Big Fight)”. This guy has a real professional feel to his voice that helps lend to the bands signature sound. Tim Laroche decorates the album from front to back with his blazing and at times distorted lead guitar work, cutting loose on “Eastern Skies” and “Deceiver” while exhibiting a bluesier side to his playing on “Child Of Mine”. Oz Fox is the first name that comes to mind when I think of his playing. The work of keyboardist Ken Maris is never laid on too thick, adding just the right amount of touch whenever needed. Drummer Brian Lutes and bassist Chad Everett anchor the albums low end in a tight and steady manner.
Production values are of the polished and professional sounding variety allowing for all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
Please note that the majority of the albums lyrics stem from Lutes’ experience from working with kids on the street. He shed further light on the matter in a 1991 interview with the international Christian rock music publication Take A Stand:
Up through the time the current lineup for this band was formed last year, I was out there on my own in the streets
working with the kids. Much of the lyrics and song writing on the album stems from those experiences. The songs are
very testimonial. I really feel the kids in the streets today are broken and hurting and they need someone to take them
by the hand and meet them halfway, walk the distance with them.1
“Here I Am Again” slowly fades in before quietly moving through its first verse to a trace of acoustic guitar. Picking up in pace for the second as a crisp rhythm guitar cuts in, “Here I Am Again” makes an even transition to a hook filled chorus advancing at a strong, upbeat tempo. Laroche contributes a few brief seconds of radiant lead guitar work. All in all, a very classy radio friendly album opener. “Here I Am Again” details Lutes’ past struggles with substance abuse:
Just another battle with my will
One more struggle in my guilt
Lord, I know You’re the way
But this time I will stay
So here I am again one more time
Running from the life that I’ve left behind
Looking for the road that I can’t find
Oh help me Lord, I’m running out of time
Getting underway to a hard rocking blend of rhythm guitar and organ, “Miss Lizzy” rushes through its first and second verse in a strident manner until culminating for a sass-flavored chorus highlighted by vocal harmonies. The forward mix of organ at the start of a rollicking instrumental section gives way to a fiery guitar solo. This one brings more than enough muscle to the table to maintain your full attention.
“Child Of Mine”, the albums first ballad, is gently shored up by an acoustic guitar during its first verse until a torrent of rhythm guitar crashes its way into the mix. Forging through the second hard and heavy, “Child Of Mine” culminates as it attains a chorus delivered in good, emotional fashion. Laroche again displays his skills, complementing the environment with his bluesy lead guitar work.
After embarking to an ethereal blend of bass guitar and piano, “Chemical King (Big Fight)” maintains the bass guitar driven vibe during its first and second verse prior to obtaining a raucous chorus backed by shouted vocal harmonies. I like how Guthrie adds some grit and gravel to his vocal delivery on this one. Several seconds of the albums best blazing lead guitar work brings out the best in a song talking about the fight against drug addiction:
One day I tried to stand up, hey, something’s wrong
The room looked horizontal, I thought I was gone
Then God showed me what I’d known all along
I couldn’t stand alone… on my own
It’s such a big fight, too big to throw away
What’s it worth, make it work, just hold on one more day
It’s such a big fight, too big to throw away
Don’t go down for the count
The six minute “Eastern Skies” begins to a cacophony of voices and sound effects that give way to a Middle Eastern flavored guitar. Abruptly taking off in high gear to a wall of rhythm guitar, “Eastern Skies” rushes with a plethora of determined impetus to a chorus that will pull you in as a result of the dramatic manner in which it is delivered. Transitioning to its forceful bridge, the song breaks for an instrumental section shored up by a flashily played guitar solo.
Introduced to a hard hitting guitar riff, “Deceiver” makes a time change upon reaching its first verse as a blend of rap influenced vocals and punchy bass lines lead the way. Rap influenced vocals? OK, hold on to your seats here in that the rap vocals actually work quite well in this setting as a result of the songs all out intense and hard hitting feel. Evening out for its pre-chorus, “Deceiver” gains a hold of a quickly moving chorus in which Guthrie takes on his trademark smooth sounding vocal approach. Rap based vocals and all, this one really kicks. “Deceiver” relates directly to a drug pusher:
I’m a big man, you’re so small
Hey man you’ve got nothing, I’ve got it all
I’ve got looks, I’ve got style
Who wouldn’t fall for this million dollar smile
Oh no, your life’s in such a twist
You’re on the road to hell
Oh no, I’ve got you in my fist
But hey, I don’t exist
Oh Lord, my life’s in such a twist
Please save me from the road to hell
Oh Lord, please put me on Your list
I know that you exist
“After The Fire” is a very classy ballad opening to an introduction that comes across ominous and portent in capacity. Slowly moving through its first verse to a quietly played guitar line, the song picks up in pace as a crunchy rhythm guitar steps forward and drives a commercial flavored chorus buttressed by a polished trace of backing vocals. An appropriately timed guitar solo helps put this one over the top.
The hard rocking “Lethal Lady” commences to an instrumental section carried by a blend of crunchy rhythm guitar and piercing lead work. Blasting its way forward in the same metal-laced fashion, the torrid atmosphere is maintained as the song acquires a sweeping chorus braced by the bands all out hard hitting energy. In the end, “Lethal Lady” ranks among the albums heaviest AND best songs. I wish there were a few more up-tempo hard rockers here like this one.
The keyboards at the start of “Sweet Destiny” continue to calmly carry the song through its first verse until a touch of rhythm guitar fades into the mix. Gaining momentum in guitar driven fashion for the second, the albums title track smoothly moves on to a chorus delivered with a plethora of delicate grace and class. Beautiful song.
“Decent Souls” reflects an almost country and western feel as an acoustic guitar blended with keyboards leads the way through its first verse and chorus. Picking up in pace at the start of its second verse, the rhythm guitar steps forward and compels “Decent Souls” to its second chorus with just the right amount of commercial appeal. A very fine ending to an all around solid album. “Decent Souls” focuses on the plight of the homeless:
Oh Lord, where have we gone wrong
To make them feel like they don’t belong
Some decent souls haven’t got a home
Where are all God’s children in the storm?
News man tells us all, don’t go out doors at all
Weather’s not fit for decent souls…
Following the release of Sweet Destiny, Siloam became involved in the “Really Me/Stay In School” rock tour across Canada – which was also part of a Just Say No anti-drug campaign – that featured sponsorship from the likes of McDonald’s, Pepsi, major hotel chains, fuel companies and even the Canadian government. Siloam, as a result of this partnership, was able to tour with over a million dollars worth of staging, sound and light gear, taking its message to arenas and stadiums with audiences that literally numbered in the tens of thousands.
Track Listing: “Here I Am Again” (3:02), “Miss Lizzy” (3:36), “Child Of Mine” (3:53), “Chemical King (Big Fight)” (3:36),
“Eastern Skies” (6:38), “Deceiver” (3:17), “After The Fire” (4:54), “Lethal Lady” (5:03), “Sweet Destiny” (4:29), “Decent Souls” (4:12)
Lee Guthrie – Lead Vocals
Tim Laroche – Guitars
Ken Maris – Keyboards
Chad Everett – Bass
Brian Lutes - Drums
Arnold, Christy. “Siloam Interview.” Take A Stand (August 1991): 1-2.
Mutillo, Dave. “Amazingly Amazing: Siloam.” White Throne 11 (1992): 19-22.
“Metal Tracks.” Heaven’s Metal 32 (1991): 32.
1. Christy Arnold, “Siloam Interview,” Take A Stand (August 1991): 1-2.