Sometimes there can be an almost-tiring amount of hype about a new artist. Unfortunately, it's not too often that a band can live up to such high standards that they are given. But with this new-to-the-states act, The Benjamin Gate, these South African natives have debuted with a record that definitely lives up to the hype.
In 1998, a musician named Ben was tragically killed, prematurely at the age of 20, in an automobile accident. Some of Ben's friends joined together and formed a musical act that was partly in his rememberence, and part a personal wake-up call. "The death of our friend Ben just made us re-evaluate life," 19-year-old lead singer Adrienne Liesching explains in a recent bio. "It made us want to do something of importance, rather than sitting around all day." That group later became The Benjamin Gate. The name is quite symbolic. It partly pays tribute to their friend Ben and is a metaphor for the group's mission. "The actual Benjamin Gate was one of the original gates in the walls of ancient Jerusalem that they used to herd the young sheep through," explains the band's drummer, Brett Palmer. "For us, that directly relates to youth, and our music being a gateway between the church and the world."
["untitled"] kicks off with "How Long," a groovaliscious hard pop/rock tune driven by a heavy bass and droning guitars with Adrienne's deep melodies floating through the song. "Scream" begins with thumping drums and Adrienne's more passionate vocal melodies. It's clear from the start of the record where this group's heart lies. As Liesching cries "You know I'm calling out Your name... We scream out 'Oh Jesus come down, reveal Your holy crown to me!' in "Scream," it's easy to tell the band doesn't take their faith lightly.
The band proves to be quite versatile as the move into the faster-paced radio-friendly "All Over Me," and Adrienne's vocals become a little more reminiscent of that of the Cranberries in the chorus of "Heaven." "Lay It Down" is a more aggressive cry to those in trouble to just lay their burdens at Christ's feet. "Nightglow" presents a fast-paced upbeat techno beat featuring a lighter, more softer vocal cry from Liesching. "Secret" is the only true ballad on the project, showcasing Adrienne's beautiful melodies accompanied by a peaceful piano melody as she sings her prayers to Jesus. The album closes with the anthem-like "Live Out Loud," with it's humming guitars and slow drum and bass groove.
The only thing that may have made the album even better would have been a little less polish to the sound. Some of the songs may have benefited better from having a more raw sound with the guitars turned up slightly louder. However, the way it is presented allows Adrienne's voice to have the spotlight it deserves. But the Benjamin's Gate debut is the kind of pop/modern rock album the Christian music scene has been looking for. It's about time we were given the tasty sounds of the Benjamin Gate.- Review date: 5/12/01, written by John DiBiase
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