|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Dino & John Elefante|
|Record Label: Pakaderm||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1989||Artist Website: X-Sinner|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 40%|
|Running Time: 38:54|
X-Sinner came together in Michigan during the mid-eighties before relocating to Los Angeles and subsequently signing to Pakaderm Records. Releasing its full length Pakaderm debut Get It in 1989, X-Sinner combines elements of melodic metal with AC/DC influenced hard rock, but its effort more often than not falls short of the mark due to unnecessarily relying on highly polished background vocals. In order to gain a better understanding of X-Sinner’s sound, for example, just imagine AC/DC recording a Def Leppard or Bon Jovi tribune album. Seriously.
The scratchy lead vocals of Dave Robbins are striking in their resemblance to those of Brian Johnson (AC/DC) which, naturally, helps invite the bands comparison musically to AC/DC. I might describe the performance of lead guitarist Greg Bishop is hit and miss. On tracks such as “Medicine” and “Hearts On Fire” his playing can come across on the restrained side, but when allowed to cut loose on “No Way In” and “Walking Evil”, however, he proves a very fine musician. Bassist Rob Kniep and drummer Michael Buckner form a solid rhythm section.
Get It showcases a production job weighted down with so much gloss and polish it ends up robbing the band of much of its natural raw energy. The rhythm guitar, for example, could have been mixed with a bit more edge and distortion. The presence of the background vocals in question only serves to further water down the bands sound. It is worth pointing out that the albums low end was produced in a thick and heavy sounding manner.
Fading in to a combination of keyboards and vocal harmonies, a choppy guitar riff aggressively drives "Medicine" forward until it culminates for a chorus with a good catchy hook. An instrumental passage limited to twenty seconds of restrained lead guitar is to be found wanting. The songs lyrics, at the same time, lack creativity:
Went to work on Monday
Healthy as could be
When some slob sneezed in my face
I started feeling dizzy, sneezy and congested
Got me some vitamin C
Give me some medicine...
"Steppin' On Toes" advances from the start at a groove flavored beat, a heavy duty bass line holding sway over the song until it reaches a chorus buttressed by a way too forward mix of vocal harmonies. Bishop contributes several seconds of directionless lead guitar work.
"Hearts On Fire" progresses at a steady upbeat tempo during its first verse until vocal harmonies accentuate the song previous to it attaining a good hard hitting chorus. I might describe Bishop's lead guitar work as pedestrian, while the same adjective can be applied to the songs lyrics:
Working two jobs don't pay my bills
I'm in debt up to my neck
Got a lien on my car and $500 rent
Well all my money is spent
Commencing to a drum solo, "No Way In" moves through its first verse to a clean lead vocal performance from Robbins before he sings in his scratchy AC/DC style upon arriving at its energetic chorus. Bishop brings out the best in a very fine number with forty seconds of the albums best lead guitar work.
After the albums title track gets going to several seconds of driving rhythm guitar backed by a punchy bass line, it builds in momentum as the rhythm section moves to the forefront of the mix. "Get It" proceeds at a slower more-mid tempo pace during its verse only to pick up speed as a prominent mix of vocal harmonies takes it to a chorus I might describe as ordinary at best. The lyrics to "Get It" also fail to make the grade:
You walk around like you're one of a kind
Looking back, I must say I blame you
I need to say it put it right on the line
Pick up your cards, we're playing for keeps now
The gritty hard rocker "Accountable" is vigorously carried from the start by a good driving guitar riff, the song falling flat on its face upon attaining a chorus conveyed in a repetitious manner by vocal harmonies. Bishop contributes forty seconds of very well done lead guitar work to a song with lyrics that, unfortunately, lack in depth:
Figured out what I'm needing
Power that's stronger than hell
We must stop the bleeding
Got to stop this terrible smell
Just under a minute of driving rhythm guitar introduces "Walking Evil" before the song gains impetus and moves through its first verse to a terrific groove flavored riff. The bands vocal harmonies, on the other hand, are used to good effect in bringing out the best in one of the albums better choruses. Bishop tears it up during a minute long instrumental passage. This song kicks. "Walking Evil" exposes Satan and his lies and deceit:
You're full of lies
You think you're so wise
You're walking evil
That's your disguise
Opening to a quietly played guitar line, "Lift Him Up" picks up in pace as a profusion of polished vocal harmonies kick in at the end of its first verse and help lead the way to the grit-laden chorus that follows . Several seconds of uninspired lead guitar work proves a further detraction.
The run-of-the-mill hard rocker "Kick 'Em Out" starts out hard and heavy, a crisp rhythm guitar pushing it forward in upbeat-fashion to a chorus that ends as vocal harmonies twice repeat its title. The lead guitar work gracing a thirty second instrumental passage fails to make the grade. The lyrics to "Kick 'Em Out" come across on the ambiguous side:
Big house, fancy car
Lawn green, you're a star
You got it all
You're dying a slow death
Good looks, knock them dead
You let power go to your head
X-Sinner saves its best for last with the brilliant melodic metal of "Livin' On The Edge". Carried through its entire duration by a clean sounding vocal performance from Robbins, the song begins to the sound of blowing wind before a quietly played guitar line holds sway over its verse portions. "Livin' On The Edge", however, abruptly picks up in pace upon reaching a chorus highlighted by just the right amount of catchy vocal harmonies. A rhythm guitar fading between the left and right channel opens an instrumental passage culminating with a nice melodic flavored guitar solo.
Get It is a musically inconsistent album held back by the bands abuse of highly polished backing vocals, an average production job, ordinary sounding lead guitar work and poorly written lyrics. What is the solution here? Eliminate the vocal harmonies in question and turn the guitars up to ten and you would have a pretty good album! At the same time, give us ten songs the quality of "Medicine", "Walking Evil" and "Livin' On The Edge".
In the end, however, the real issue revolves around whether or not X-Sinner would have ever gotten a record deal without the gimmicky AC/DC style lead vocals. In other words, it all boils down to a matter of style as opposed to substance, particularly in light of the fact a number of more talented and more deserving Christian metal bands of the era such as Soldier, Paradox, Apostle, Straightway, Taker, Paragon and others were passed over in favor of X-Sinner. Next.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Medicine” (3:21), “Steppin’ On Toes” (3:29), “Hearts On Fire” (4:13), “No Way In” (3:44), “Get It” (4:19), “Accountable” (4:15), “Walking Evil” (4:49), “Lift Him Up” (3:14), “Kick ‘Em Out” (3:19), “Livin’ On The Edge” (4:07)
Dave Robbins – Lead Vocals
Greg Bishop – Guitars
Rob Kniep – Bass
Michael Buckner – Drums
David Raven – Drums
John Elefante - Keyboards
Rocker, Randy and Ed Warner. "X-Sinner Interview." Take A Stand (December 1989): 4.
Van Pelt, Doug. "X-Sinner: Conquering Sin With Jesus Christ." Heaven's Metal 23 (1990): 10-15.