Randy Rose is perhaps one of the most distinctive songwriters/performers as an artist originally starting from the late 80s and 90s at the age of only 14. He first began his venture with the alternative techno pop group by the name of Mad at the World with their self-titled debut in 1987. While continuing his commitment to MATW, he then went solo with his band named Rose. The band provided a more intense sound than MATW, and some of his music can be considered very dark and moody. Randy's previous albums were mostly hard rock infused with some grunge offerings. On some later projects, he delved into a more psychedelic type of style. His most recent release leans toward a variety of music that brings forth his past contributions as well.
The introduction sets a bleak tone with a sort of uncanniness, feeling straight out of a Tim Burton movie. It provides three phases which ultimately lead back to the title track. Despite the sequence of unfortunate events throughout the track, it ultimately leads to an enlightening note, "God's heart breaks for the ones / who can't help themselves/ And He has a place to store their tears / There on His shelf." Next, we are introduced to "Keep You to Myself," which is more of the stylings of Rose's Intense Records releases in the 90s, although with a slightly different composition. "Medication" is certainly one of the more prevailing songs, focusing on the impact of drug addiction when it seems as though it's impossible to overcome: "Oh, it started so slow / Before you know / Now there's no tomorrow." "Whispering Whales" offers some very psychedelic overtones, capturing that feeling once present in bands like the early 70s Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, especially towards the end of the track. Randy Rose starts to slow things down a bit with the melodic piano-driven tune, "Kellan and the Illustrator." It reminds the listener of Queen's "Nevermore" from 1974 with the slight distinction of Randy's voice, although he carries it quite well in this composition.
As we approach the remaining songs, it begins to resonate a more grunge atmosphere that so many of us loved throughout the 90s, like "Monster" as well as "Micky." "Micky" concentrates on how people can feel completely hopeless, yet it doesn't have to be this way: "Programmed to harm, tethered to scars / You know you can't live this way / He can wash away / All the hurt today / He's the place to run, my love / He can heal the scars, my love." Next, we are introduced to the track that seems like the very depiction of the album cover with "The Girl," "You were ritually abused...battered, bloodied and bruised / But Jesus is calling your name and Girl, you'll never be the same." In "Hells Locked from the Inside," Rose focuses on how one can let life's challenges get in the way and leave one feeling powerless because they are not able to make any positive progress with themselves, "Break the chains that hold down / From your past, baby, you're gonna drown." Rose closes the album with a very emotional ballad the provides an effective closing verse in reference to God's unconditional love: "Cause you will always be loved / You were always loved / You were always loved…."
This album includes some very woeful lyrical content which would explain why the album is musically dark as well. However, it seems essential to talk about these issues as it can have an impact towards one's salvation. Randy enlightens us about the album's subject matter, "This record is dedicated to anybody that didn't have a voice to scream through the soundproof walls in that old modular trailer- where the neighbors were used to the police coming and somehow staying for hours like they actually belonged there. For the little ones that tear up with the aroma of melting wax. For the ones with all the bruises and all the cuts, that were told nothing ever happened… it was all a dream. For the ones whose voice was stolen before they could say a word. It says in the Bible that God is close to the brokenhearted and the crushed in the spirit. So whether many of you can relate to this, or know someone who can, most of these kids don't even make it out of the institutions. I have met several of these people, teens and adults- and there's something so similar about all of their stories, they're consistent- there is a way out. That's what this album is all about- the escape for the abused."
With this successfully Kickstarter-funded project, it's not difficult to see why Rose has such a strong following with its dedicated enthusiasts, as well as the most recent successfully-funded Mad at the World project where Randy shares the talent with his brother, Roger Rose. Of all the albums that Rose has released over the years, this is likely his best effort to date. Audiophiles who appreciate the sounds of hard rock immersed with grunge and psychedelic sounds should easily find a place in their playlist for Songs for the Ritually Abused.
- Review date: 7/13/17, written by Wayne Myatt of Jesusfreakhideout.com