|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: X-Sinner|
|Record Label: Image||Country Of Origin: US|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: X-Sinner|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 42:15|
X-Sinner hit the scene in 1989 with its Pakaderm Records debut Get It. The album was well received by critics and fans alike, delivering a blend of metal and hard rock not unlike that of AC/DC, due to the Brian Johnson influenced vocals of Dave Robbins, and Def Leppard, as a result of its catchy melodies and touches of the commercial. Peace Treaty, the bands second Pakaderm release, followed in 1991. Maintaining the musical trends established on Get It, Peace Treaty showcased the abilities of new frontman Rex Scott (Zion), who lent a raspy but clean vocal style as opposed to the coarser AC/DC flavorings characteristic to Robbins.
X-Sinner proceeded to drop off the face of the map for the next decade until it re-emerged under the name Angry Einsteins. Cracked, the groups 2003 full length debut, reflected the traditional X-Sinner sound but touched up with elements of the alternative. Reacquiring the X-Sinner moniker in 2006 with the Retroactive release Fire It Up, the band – unhappy with the original guitar tracks – re-recorded Peace Treaty with the end result being the heavier and all around gutsier sounding effort.
The latter half of 2008 finds X-Sinner returning with World Covered In Blood, its third full length album of original material and first on Image Records. WCIB represents a return to the old school AC/DC sound of Get It, Rex Scott brings a “Brian Johnson meets Bon Scott” vocal approach, but without much of the polish and gloss inherit to the Pakaderm style of production (more on both of these later). Similar to Fire It Up, what we have is a work that comes across heavier – the guys capture a near perfect mix of rhythm guitar – and with more high energy in comparison to Get It and Peace Treaty. The overall impression left with this reviewer is that this is the way X-Sinner is meant to sound.
One thing that has not changed is X-Sinner’s penchant for composing a song with a catchy chorus hook- and hooks there are in abundance here. . “Back In Red”, “What Rock Is For”, “Holy Ghost Fire”, “World Covered In Blood”, “Forgive Them” and “Wanna Be Set Free” are up-tempo scorchers standing out with their high-octane momentum and pronounced melodies. But when the band slows things to a mid-paced romp it can deliver a piece equally notable, as demonstrated on “Storm On The Horizon”, “Ready To Go”, “Who’s Your Friend” and “That Ain’t Me”.
Lead vocals and production represent areas that ultimately seem to make or break WCIB with most listeners- at least from what I have read on the music related message boards I frequent. And quite frankly, I cannot understand what all the fuss is about.
As previously noted, Rex Scott sounds like a combination of Brian Johnson and Bon Scott on WCIB. But is that a bad thing? While some have criticized Rex as coming across “strained and unnatural sounding”, I say that he intentionally went for the AC/DC vibe and nailed it. And besides, his performance is not that far removed from that of Dave Robbins on Get It. Now, do I wish that Rex had brought his trademark style from Peace Treaty or Fire It Up? Sure, but by no means does his AC/DC approach hold back WCIB or diminish my listening experience.
To fully appreciate the production to WCIB one must first understand that X-Sinner was never satisfied with the production to Peace Treaty. With that in mind, X-Sinner backs away from the gloss and polish of its first two releases but what we end up with, as previously noted, is the rawer but more energetic and all around heavier effort. Again, this is the way X-Sinner is meant to sound.
The best advice I might give anyone would be to approach the project with an open mind. In other words, if you are expecting “Get It Again” or “Another Peace Treaty” in terms of the production here you might be disappointed. But if you look at things from the standpoint of a band capturing its true sound – while distancing itself from its past in the process – then it is possible to grasp what X-Sinner has come up with in the studio.
Things get underway with “Back In Red”, three and a half minutes of up-tempo grit showing off the bands all out raw energy and penchant for crafting a catchy chorus hook. Rex sings at his scratchiest while Bishop tears it up on lead guitar. This one proves in no uncertain terms that X-Sinner is back (in red):
Been down too long and it’s sure been tough
Been listen’ to lies and I’ve had enough
Out of the grey and into the black
I’ll let the blood cover up my tracks
Are you ready for a heart attack
I’m back in red…
The non-stop hooks continue on “What Rock Is For”. A hard rock anthem at its finest, the song rollicks its distance to a dogged guitar riff as a low end of the pronounced variety establishes a weighty environs. The chorus – animated, driven and catchy as all get out – will draw you in and refuse to let go. The guys deal with life on the road here:
Running late and we got a date
With a few thousand friends
Drove all night until daylight
Just to do it again
And we’re about to begin
As we hit the stage
And turn the volume on ten
“Holy Ghost Fire”, another tempestuous piece, starts to a few seconds of open air guitar before kicking into high gear. The song proceeds to plow ahead relentlessly, storming through its first verse on the way to the fleeting but punch-driven chorus that follows. “Holy Ghost” talks about exactly that:
I got dancin’ feet
If ya wanna see
Feel the power flow
And it’s guaranteed
And I ain’t gonna fake it
And the devil can’t take it
I’m on fire…
“World Covered In Blood” comes across about as subtle as a punch to the jaw. Maintaining the albums boisterous initiative, the song stands out with its decisive chorus- repeated continually in authoritative fashion. Bishop really steps to the plate here, decorating the red hot scene with his scorching riffs and volatile leads. The albums title track is aptly named:
\What possibility could there be?
That blood is flowing down a tree
At first a trickle – and then a steam
And then a river – and now a sea!
Where did it come from?
What does it mean?
Like a fountain that’s flowin’ free
All over you, all over me
And now I’m starting to see – a world covered in blood
“Storm On The Horizon” ranks with the albums best. This one proves a first class piece of gutsy hard rock, moving at the slower tempo in comparison to those preceding it but delivering the same type of pronounced hook and abundant furor. Rex sings his heart out on a piece touching upon the second coming:
Something’s coming, can’t you hear the wind
Sky grows dark now, turning black as sin
Lightening flashes and the thunder rolls
Your time has come
Now you go nowhere but down!
It’s too late now the damage is done
Storm on the horizon
Nowhere to run
Storm on the horizon
Your time is done
The bass guitar solo at the start of “Ready To Go” soon gives way to an edgy rhythm guitar. The song launches forward in full force as a crescendo of drums adds to the strapping scene, not letting up until acquiring a flowing chorus put over the top by its unrelenting impetus. On “’Ready To Go” X-Sinner offers a rebuttal to its detractors:
Don’t try to tell me what its’ all about
I got two eyes that can see
Stop makin’ promises that you can’t keep
Stop what your doin to me
I got love
You got hate
I got no time so don’t you wait
I’m aimin high
Your shootin’ low
Rest assured that we’re ready, ready to go
“Forgive Them” is a monster of a track. From the razor-like guitar riff that carries its full length to Rex’s snarling vocal delivery, all the elements are in place for a prevailing classic hard rock experience. Chorus wise, heavy duty backing vocals move to the front of the mix to impose an environs bordering on the dominant in capacity. This one just plain kicks. Lyrics are self-explanatory:
The betrayals done here’s your kiss
Now their chains are around your wrists
They mock and taunt and punch your face
Tell us where’s your saving grace?
Feel their spit run down your face
Mixed with blood you take your place
Among the thieves and liars too
Now the whip is waiting for you
What did you say?
What did you do?
Now you take it – while they break it
While they take your life away
“Wanna Be Set Free” brings a high energy element of groove. By far the albums fastest piece, the song establishes an non-stop tempo – fast, furious and full of initiative – wile featuring plenty of blazing guitar licks along with quite the gripping chorus hook. “Wanna Be Set Free” is a number about grace:
All it takes is a little love
And everything that comes from above – oh yeah
I got to tell you the price was paid
No cover charge to saving grace – that’s right
We got the ticket to make everything all right
Mid-paced rocker “Got Something To Say” delivers three minutes of muscle. A heavy duty aura prevails as the rhythm guitar pummels in and out of the mix while the song navigates its verse portions, the unyielding initiative upheld for a straightforward chorus in which the rhythm guitar establishes itself fixed and firm. No, this might not be the albums strongest track but it is solid nonetheless. X-Sinner’s “got something to say” on this one:
When you cut do you bleed?
Don’t want to fall for your greed
Though your blind you claim to see
That’s why I’m tellin’ you – you’ve got to be set free
More catchy hooks are delivered on “Who’s Your Friend”, a mid-tempo piece upheld by a chainsaw rhythm guitar (Bishop puts on a clinic in gritty guitar playing) and Rex’s caustic vocal sensibilities (he really reaches down low and ads some gut and backbone to his delivery). Add it up either way and it works, not just musically but lyrically as well:
You think your chat buddies ain’t too bad
But they’re not there when you need – no
You’ve been let down about a thousand times
And now your starting to bleed
Don’t you know, can’t you see
With friends like that who needs enemies!
“That Ain’t Me” draws upon some of the commercialist inherit to Get It and Peace Treaty. The bands abundant backing vocals make their presence felt on this one, particularly during its infectious chorus, with the end result being the albums most melodic piece. An all around touch of the eighties prevails- play this on the radio (or MTV) twenty years ago and it would sound right at home. “That Ain’t Me” brings a message of accountability:
You go to church
You think you see
In between the lines
Submit to no one
You call the shots
You don’t need no help
Musically, I enjoy every minute to WCIB. The album continues to showcase the bands ability to compose a song with a catchy chorus hook; there is not a bad track here. Yes, Rex Scott takes a “Brian Johnson meets Bon Scott” approach but hits the nail on the head in the process. Production values, as already mentioned, back away from the polish of Get It and Peace Treaty but lend to the all around heavier and more energetic effort. All in all, WCIB represents what X-Sinner truly sounds like and comes with a strong recommendation.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Back In Red” (3:32), “What Rock Is For” (3:36), “Holy Ghost Fire” (3:20), “World Covered In Blood” (3:53), “Storm On The Horizon” (4:13), “Ready To Go” (3:56), “Forgive Them” (3:43), “Wanna Be Set Free” (3:06), “Got Something To Say” (2:59), “Who’s Your Friend” (4:25), “That Ain’t Me” (4:52)
Rex Scott – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Drums
Greg Bishop – Guitars
Rob Kniep – Bass