The Christian rock group, Saint, is back after three years on hiatus with the follow-up to their last album, entitled In The Battle. The record marked the return of former vocalist and primary songwriter Josh Kramer, who chose to pursue other avenues of interest during the band's return to music in 1999. Along with Kramer, Saint is joined together with original bass player Richard Lynch and guitarist Dee Harrington from the Too Late For Living era. Saint is among the very few Christian rock bands of the 1980's that continue to create music to this day and they do not see any reason to stop now. In early 2006, Saint recorded and released their next album The Mark, a concept album centering on key points from the book of Revelation with Judas Priest-inspired rock music.
On a positive high note, The Mark delivers a truthful and accurate description of the Apostle John's visions of Armageddon. Each song depicts a certain prophecy concerning the end of days, including the letters sent to the seven churches, the mark of the Beast, the seventh trumpet, God's wrath being unleashed upon those who worship the Beast, the lake of fire, and of coarse the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is very surprising to hear the worship-based anthem "He Reigns" upon first listen, which can be viewed as the most well-structured rock ballad Saint has ever put together, "After this, I saw four angels holding back the winds of the Earth in the sky, Another with the seal of God to place upon the chosen, The number that I heard was magnified, Salvation belongs to our God, And to the Lamb who was slain, Salvation belongs to our God, He paid the price and now He reigns." Truthful and faith-based lyrics like this make a listener like myself want to sing along.
Other than strong lyrical content and intense Judas Priest-inspired guitar solos, there really isn't much to praise about The Mark. Richard Lynch and Dee Harrington's performance on this record are very good, but it's easy to see that they were limited to what they could do musically, due to a small budget for the album. The primary complaint on this release is Josh Kramer's vocal delivery, which comes out as a mix of overly dramatic spoken words, a slightly small amount of singing, and very irritating high-pitched screams seen on several tracks, including "The Spirit," "On And On," "The Mark," and "Babylon The Great." It's nice to know a former member who had been with the group since its formation in the early 1980's, returned to the microphone, but his performance demolishes the ending result. Perhaps if Harrington and Lynch supplied more backup vocals on several of the songs and if Kramer would take some singing lessons, there might have been better results from these recorded songs.
It was difficult to listen to this album for the first time without having to put down the headphones and go do something else. It is even more difficult to discriminate a Christian metal band that put their heart and soul into crafting twelve metal songs that form what could have been a great concept record. Even more irritating is the typos found in the lyrics of the album booklet, which there are several of them. If Saint continues to pursue this genre of music, it is heavily recommended that they observe their weaknesses and find a way to correct them before creating another album. Despite great talent, Saint completely missed The Mark.- Review date: 5/29/09, written by Fred Keel
Record Label: Armor Records
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