Neon Cross (Regency) 1988
Neon Cross' debut is a Christian metal classic (1988), that was almost impossible to find on CD, until the recent, limited-edition M8 Records re-release. However, for the longest time (like 10 years) I held onto my original vinyl copy until I finally scored an original Regency Records CD copy in a trade. (This was several years before the M8 re-release) In any case, Neon Cross play simplistic, anthemic heavy metal. Guitarist Don Webster may not be an Yngwie Malmsteen, but he can write a good metal riff. Just check out the furious riff of "Heartbreaker" or the chugging rhythms of "Run Into the Light." "Right Time" is another smokin' song that has a slightly more commercial appeal than much of the rest of the material. What really makes this disc spectacular, however, is the classic voice of David Raymond Reeves, who has a style that mixes elements of Ian Gillan and David Coverdale. On "Far Cry" David even used a high pitched falsetto voice that sounds a bit like Rob Halford. The only real criticism I have for this disc, however, is the overly repetitive drum beat that is used in just about every song. Overall, however, a good disc and certainly one of my favorite true metal discs to come out of the 80's Christian metal movement.
The band broke up not long after this album was released but not after writing enough material for a second album. I think some of this material was even recorded in demo format but never officially released. Some of the songs made their way around. "The Battle" and "You're The One" were two that the band was playing as part of their live show.
Here are some interesting facts about the first disc that was posted by guitarist Don Webster:
Neon Cross (M8) 1988/2001
2001 reissue of a classic Christian metal album. Although I already own this disc on CD, the addition of six bonus cuts made it a necessity. Fortunately I was able to get this copy using a credit I had with The Crossing Music. The bonus tracks are mostly demo tracks taken from the bands 'Frontline Life' demo. "I Need You Love" and "Son of God" both appeared on the infamous "California Metal" compilation. Being that these were only demo tracks, none have stellar production, but they are not completely terrible either. Actually "Son Of God" was one of the first Neon Cross tracks I ever heard, and is to this day one of my favorite songs by them. Also, this was 1987 when production in heavy metal wasn't anywhere near as important as the attitude and energy that was presented within the music. (Anyone remember the production of "Kill 'Em All" or "Killing is My Business"?) One slight annoyance about this re-release is that the track listing on the back of the CD is completely wrong. For a more complete review, see the review of the original Regency CD above.
Uh oh, what happened here? Neon Cross decide they need to "get with the times," so to speak. "Torn" features a bluesy, grunge-based sound that is in stark contrast to Neon Cross' classic metal sound. David Raymond Reeves is a great singer, but at times he almost sounds like he may be singing drunk. "Spinning" is a perfect example of this. What's up with the vocals on the beginning and middle of this song? Despite the vocal performance on this track, "Bitterness" is one of the heavier songs on the disc. If it hadn't been for the unusual vocal performance, it would have been a one of the best songs on the disc. I also really dig the harp playing in this cut. There are a few other cool songs like "Seasons of Change" which has an acoustic, bluesy Zeppelin-vibe. On this track David sings in a higher, clean Robert Plant style, which I much prefer. Unfortunately the very next song returns to the distorted vocals and modern rock sound. The album is not terrible, just nowhere near what I was hoping for after hearing the blistering tracks on "Premium Cuts" only a year earlier. "Torn" does contain a nice insert with the complete lyrics and lots of pics of the band.
Neon Cross also released a live song on the Extreme Marti Gras 2002 Compilation CD.