CRUSH , by Pastor Brad -- Review from AngelicWarlord.Com

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CRUSH , by Pastor Brad -- Review from AngelicWarlord.Com

Post by pastorbrad on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:44 am

Crush, the most recent (July of 2017) album from Bay City, Michigan minister and guitarist Pastor Brad Windlan, has all the ingredients needs to appeal to both the classic metal faithful and those looking for melodic hard rock hooks.  ‘Pastor Brad’, as he is best known within hard music circles, has been on quite the prolific musical pace as of late, having released in Crush his fifth album within the past three years.  Lemonade from 2015 got the ball rolling with its joining of (mostly) instrumental and (occasional) vocal cuts, while 2016 produced the first installment of the artists Storm The Gates series, which comprises re-imagined parody covers (with a Christian message) of songs by the mainstream metal and hard rock bands that inspired him to become a musician.  UP, a worship album consisting of eight rocked ‘UP’ traditional praise and worship songs and two original worship numbers, saw release in January of 2017 and Storm The Gates II in April the same year.
What is consequential about Crush is how it represents Pastor Brad’s first album of all original vocal material - no instrumentals or covers - since his 2010 Roxx Records offering Break Out!.  An independent release, Crush resides on a straightforward heavy metal basis but imbued with periodic forays into melodic, blues based, doom and even modern metal (many of which make multiple appearances within the same song).  In terms of specifics, the album finds the artist tightening his songwriting (in comparison to Break Out!) by giving prominence to shorter songs in the three to three and a half minute range characteristic to catchy hooks to draw you in with repeat listen.
Perhaps it is due to the shorter song lengths, but the album did not make the most immediate of positive impressions with me.  Now, I do not mind the occasional song around the three-minute mark, but if an entire album is inclusive to material of such a span, I potentially balk.  Hence, my doubts when I first viewed the track times and was let down on first listen as the project came across sounding plain if not on the average side of things.  Yet, there are moments in life when you must listen to your ‘gut’ (that ‘still small voice’ if you will), which encouraged me to give the album a second chance.  In other words, I needed to sleep on it.  Which I am glad that I did in that I awoke the next morning with the song “Riptide” in my head, and subsequent to several listens later, I ended up hooked in that Crush - throw out the track times! - is chock full of promising material.

It begins with the albums opening title track, which sets the tone with its blistering tempo, heavy set backing vocals and front to back recoiling bass.  Best part might be a minute in when “Crush” breaks for a passage made up of medieval tinctured keyboards and Gregorian style chanting.  Instrumentally, it features one of the artists trademark runs of elevated lead guitar.
“Get Away” takes a heavier stance but within a big drum sound arena rock framework.  The song presents with its share of contrasts, including spoken word verses - “We look for answers everywhere except His Holy Word.  Don’t we know tying to live without Him is totally absurd” - and a catchy refrain that resides within rumbling freight train momentum driven territory.  Guest guitarist Derek Corzine provides the melodic lead guitar.

Of note: this is the first of the albums two songs to feature the rhythm section courtesy of Big Fish Audio.  Programmed drums on the remaining tracks.

At two and a half minutes, “Holding Me Together” pushes the envelope in terms of what I consider acceptable song length, with the problem (similar to most songs less than three minutes) how it ends before given opportunity to make a statement for itself.  That said, “Holding Me Together” excels musically as one of the albums most aggressive as a driving bass line and encroaching guitars help lend to an almost chaotic (if not thrash like) back drop.  I like it but would do so more if it had been extended another 30 to 45 seconds.
“Mean Machine” reflects the bluesy side to the artists songwriting.  Ranking alongside my album favorites, the song highlights the needed elements in terms of dogged licks and chops, shuffling bass and cowbell in needed portions.  Artist is right at home with his gravelly vocal presence as he reinforces, “He’s the mean machine, and he’s coming to get you.  He is always looking for someone to deceive”.  Mario Barisic guests with his scintillating soloing.

As its title implies, “Mighty Fortress” is a worship rock piece but also with a twist.  The song takes an up-tempo melodic hard rock approach - victorious, triumphant and keyed up as it gets - but at a moments notice can descend into a near doom-like grind as it exclaims “Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” prior to breaking out for the exultant “Might, mighty fortress is our God” refrain.  One cannot help but appreciate the unexpected variety at hand.

“Your Love” stands out as a bluesy metal masterpiece.  It starts to a robotic fusion-like rhythm, but at just the moment you think it is an instrumental, verses cut in thick and weighty with storming rhythm guitars leading the way.  Refrain is every bit aggressive as it is catchy: “I’m risen into Your love, oh yeah” Brilliant!  Pastor Brads tops things off with one of his effervescent guitar runs.
“My Jesus”, second track to feature the Big Fish Audio rhythm section, comes across in the form of worshipful hair metal with catchy guitars galore and lyrics to match: “My Jesus is the King of Kings, my Jesus is the Lord of Lords”.  As it moves over its final minute, however, the song gives prominence to guitars tones of a modern quality not to mention an old school revival preacher (Dr. S.M. Lockridge) at the end.  Of equal note is how this is one of several cuts here to reflect how the artist continues to mature with his signature gravelly vocal abilities.

“Riptide” returns things to a straight on metal direction.  Starting to a short drum solo, the song plows ahead as driving guitars dominate the backend with bass taking over for verses to feature spoken word delivery: “Mighty fortress of refuge, Jesus my King it’s to You that I run.  Because I know on the cross when You said it is finished You meant it was done”.
As impetus returns, rhythm guitars recoil to buttress the heavy hitting chorus: “But Your love is lifting me, uplifting me higher. Risen up!”  Powerful but catchy, “Riptide” is by far the albums strongest cut- there is a reason I woke with its melody stuck in my head!

“I’m In You” stands out as an equal joining of melody and heaviness.  The song maintains the traditional metal leanings, with darker guitars elements and bruising drums upholding the verses, while the infectious refrain contrasts with big doses of commercial backing vocals.  Pastor Brad and Art Caveretta contest on lead guitar.  If Stryper ever decided to go classic metal this is what it might sound like.
Crush closes to semi ballad “Coming Home”.  Lightly played guitar and clashing symbols get things going as it gently rolls through its opening verses, but as it gradually builds force, melodic rhythm guitar step in to shore up the light-hearted refrain.  Keyboards and guitar solos trade off instrumentally.  Whereas I appreciate the songs uplifting feel, it is also a bit short for a ballad at three and a half minutes, noting (and accept this as an observation) how many of my favorite ballads extend out to four minutes or longer.  Still, a find song though.
Similar to the two Storm The Gates releases, Crush is a guitar album, which lends to a slight rawness in terms of production, albeit enough polish exists to allow guitar leads and bass to rise above the mix.  What I said in my Storm The Gates II review holds true regarding programmed drums: they do not distract or get in the way, but I still prefer the spontaneity and intuition that goes hand in hand with a human drummer.  Perhaps on Pastor Brad’s next album the Big Fish Audio rhythm section could participate on all tracks.

If the objective of a reviewer is to put oneself in the artist’s shoes, then I cannot help but think Pastor Brad’s loafers speak of composing catchy metal and hard rock cuts in the three to three and a half minute range.  He succeeds laudably in this capacity on Crush, with some very fine material standing out accordingly in that my favorite songs include “Riptide”, “I’m In You”, “Mighty Fortress”, “Get Away” and 

“Mean Machine”.  Enough variety presents itself to prevent Crush from becoming repetitious, as can be found in how multiple musical styles often merge within the same song.  Overall, if a Pastor Brad fan or into any type of the genres presented then give Crush the opportunity it deserves.
Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Crush” (2:45), “Get Away” (3:39), “Holding Me Together” (2:37), “Mean Machine” (3:15), “Mighty Fortress” (3:38), “Your Love” (3:24), “My Jesus” (3:22), “Riptide” (2:52), “I’m In You” (3:13), “Coming Home” (3:24)
Pastor Brad - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Big Fish Audio - Bass, drums & rhythm guitars
Derek Corzine - Guitars
Mario Barisic - Guitars
Art Caveretta - Guitars
Seasoned Guardian
Seasoned Guardian

Posts : 120
Join date : 2014-05-01
Location : Bay City MI

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