|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Matt Eaton & Steve Brown|
|Record Label: Brofus||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 39:09|
Lewisville, Texas based Spittin Jonah was first put together by founding members guitarist Matt Eaton, vocalist Billy Hagan Blax and drummer Mike Rich in the spring of 1997. Soon rounding out its line up with the addition of bassist James Young, the hard rocking four piece unit proceeded to record its aptly titled full length debut Louder Than Hell in 2000 before following up five years later with a very fine sophomore effort entitled Sphere Of Resistance. The album finds the band continuing to moving in classic metal territory while reflecting the influence of power metal and straightforward hard rock, delivering a sound certain to appeal to fans of Judas Priest, Metal Church, UFO, Saint, Armageddon, F.O.G. and Resurrection Band. Without a doubt Spittin Jonah is HEAVY but it can compose a song with a great deal of melody as well, reflected in the foundation of catchy mid-tempo hard rockers such as “Blood Stains”, “Street Preacher”, “The Maze” and “Calling To The Grave” the album is built upon. The band can even turn it up a notch in that more up-tempo numbers “Envy & Hate” and “Fight To Be” rank with the albums best.
Billy Hagan Blax, with his throaty and guttural lead vocal style, helps give the band its signature sound. Yes, he can come across a bit gruff in places and he lacks somewhat in range, but after repeated listening I grew to appreciate his gritty and at times soulful vocal delivery. If I were to invite a comparison it might be to Anders Johansson (Heartcry, Green Sleeves) or even Hakan Andersson (Leviticus). Guitarist Matt Eaton also without a doubt delivers the goods, best showcasing his skillfully done lead guitar work on “Envy & Hate”, “Blood Stains”, “Street Preacher” and “Calling To The Grave”. The rhythm section of drummer Mike Rich and bassist James Young helps lend to the overall heaviness of the bands sound.
Production values are quite strong in allowing for a near perfect blend of muscular rhythm guitar and fluid lead guitar. The albums low end comes across full and heavy.
An independent release, Sphere Of Resistance is available for purchase at CD Baby: cdbaby.com/cd/spittinjonah2
I like how “Tormented” opens the album to narration comparing the three days and nights Jonah spent in the whale’s belly to the three days and three nights the Son of Man spent in the heart of the earth. The introduction ends as the narrator states, “Behold, a greater one than Jonah is here.” Getting underway to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the song takes off in full force, grinding its way forward until culminating for a chorus conveyed in near heavy handed and forceful fashion. While certainly far from bad, “Tormented” is actually the only track here I tend to skip over due to the slightly repetitious feel to its delivery. The songs subject matter is spiritual warfare:
Standing in battle
With helmet shield and sword
Tormenter and his troops
Retreat before my Lord
Bowing down in reverence
My victory’s so bold
The devil’s down in darkness
My King’s in full control
A bass guitar solo initiates “Envy & Hate” before the rhythm guitar smoothly steps forward, an energetic setting put in place as the song evenly flows to an infectious chorus advancing at a spirited upbeat tempo. Eaton follows with several seconds of fervid lead guitar work. A terrific hard rocker with quite the catchy hook.
The pace slows a bit with “Blood Stains”. The song takes off to a predominate mix of rhythm guitar, marching forward at a blues soaked mid-tempo pace until it transitions to a punchy flavored chorus with a good catchy hook. Eaton again sends a message with a nice stretch of skillfully done lead guitar work. Second terrific song in a row. As its title implies, Blood Stains” talks about Christ’s crucifixion:
Blood stains on my dirty hands
What have I done, what have I done?
I pinned my sin on a righteous man
The damage done, the damage done
I hammered nails into His feet
His hands and side I made ‘em bleed
Now I fear my destiny
I’m on my knees, I’m beggin’ please
“Fight To Be Free” commences to a crashing torrent of rhythm guitar before taking off in a quickly moving manner. Excitedly proceeding through its first verse, the song tapers off slightly for an anthem-like chorus detailing victory in the life of a Christian:
Run for the prize
I play to win
I fight to be
Fight to be free
Another display by the band of its versatility and accomplished songwriting skills.
A commanding blend of gritty rhythm guitar and cascading drums introduces “Street Preacher”. Cruising through its first verse in emotional fashion, the energetic vibe is maintained as the song reaches an edge-laden chorus with a strong but too the point feel. Eaton delivers a nice stretch of bluesy lead guitar work that brings to mind Stu Heiss (Resurrection Band) at his best. Blax’s blues soaked vocal delivery really shines here as well.
Opening quietly before a crisp rhythm guitar cuts in, “The Maze” proceeds through its first verse at an unwavering mid-tempo pace before making an even transition to a catchy chorus conveyed with just the right amount of determined impetus. “The Maze” points the way to eternal life:
In a world of darkness
I sought the truth
I fumbled, I stumbled in circles
Right back to You
You are the only Way
We can be free
The Way, the Truth, the Life
Eaton contributes to the environment with more of his trademark blazing work on lead guitar.
The semi-ballad “Calling To The Grave” also opens quietly, the tranquil setting perseveres as the song slowly plods through its first and second verse. Picking up in pace, “’Calling To The Grave” moves on to an emotionally charged chorus underscored by a heavy duty rhythm guitar. A swiftly played guitar solo leads the way through a well timed instrumental section.
“101” aggressively jumps out of the gate as a forward mix of rhythm guitar shores up its first and second verse with a plethora of hard hitting impetus. Briefly pausing, “101” moves on to a fleeting chorus instilled with an abundance of the bands all out sharp sounding energy. This one gives rise to a cool Resurrection Band-like vibe.
Sphere Of Resistance proves a very solid effort from this talented four piece until from Lewisville, Texas. While the album is quite consistent – I hit the skip button only once – I would have appreciated a few more tracks in that it is a bit short in featuring just 8 songs. But as the old saying goes, on the other hand, it is the quality and not necessarily the quantity that counts, and without a doubt Spittin Jonah delivers its share of quality.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Tormented” (5:30), “Envy & Hate” (2:55), “Blood Stains” (5:13), “Fight To Be” (4:22), “Street Preacher” (4:29), “The Maze” (5:04), “Calling To The Grave” (5:32), “101” (6:01)
Billy Hagan Blax – Lead Vocals
Matt Eaton – Guitars
James Young – Bass
Mike Rich - Drums