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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

One More Last Time

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Mar
One More Last Time
Sounds like … well-performed and intelligently written alternative rock falling within the Audioslave, Three Doors Down, and Stone Temple Pilots contingencyAt a Glance … Radial Angel doesn't bring any additional elements to the standard modern rock arena, but what they do offer is appealing, edifying, and sure to be a hit

The birth of Radial Angel dates back to 1995, but it wasn't until 1999 that members strove to take their music to the next level. This is when they began composing their lyrics around the struggles and sinful ways that often stunt people's spiritual growth, while consciously striving to cover relevant topics for non-believing audiences. Backed by an aggressive musical direction that took cues from the post Seattle sound and rise of nu-metal, this foursome first infiltrated their local area, and eventually graduated to the national spotlight thanks to their indie hit "Down" off their self-titled debut.

The strength of the single along with their connection with audiences led many labels to court Radial Angel, finally resulting in their signing with Squint / Warner. After inking a contract, the guys entered the studio to record One More Last Time with the production team of Chris Freels (Charlie Hall, Jami Smith, the Passion projects) and Kevin Lively (Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots). It's apparent that Lively in particular helped refine the group's sonic explorations, putting most of Radial Angel's material in the same category as Bush, Our Lady Peace, and Audioslave, the latter of which is especially fitting considering three of its members used to be in Rage Against the Machine.

Evidence of such comparisons can be found in the sharp guitar roar and throaty vocals of "Untitled," the pressing power and hearty screams throughout "Give," and the string glazed growl that rounds out "Love." "She" takes a cue from the swelling dominance of "Love," sprinkling an acoustic guitar part within the first chorus, after which the band unloads with an electric blaze and heightened vocal delivery. Lyrically, this track speaks about a man who's yet to be married but still seeks purity as he prays for his future wife. Any guy awaiting that God ordained relationship can instantly identify with thoughts like: "She is my inspiration, she is my destination / And I want her, to hold my heart in her hands / And she is the one, that holds my life in her heart."

But for those struggling with relationship-based temptation, there is also a pair of cuts that cover backsliding in one's faith. "Annabelle" is the first, taking a vulnerable look into singer Jared Taber's heart and chronicling his desire to sever ties with the bad influences in his life. I'd venture to say the description of "Annabelle you come dancing in my head / But I know I can't be, be around you again" will hopefully convince listeners to stop dating someone that's dragging them down. The idea of falling off the Christian path also comes into play throughout "Something," known for its uncanny, almost too-close-for-comfort vocal resemblance to Bush's Gavin Rossdale. Once again, Taber shouts firmly to convey his point that God is the only way, while being careful not too sound judgmental by admitting he's stumbled plenty of times before.

Situations of even deeper seriousness are discussed, such as the infuriating tale of physical abuse "It's Over" and the band's chiding confrontation of a rapist on "Empty Handed." Musically, Radial Angel once again restricts themselves to the instrumental parameters of their basic influence pool (which in these cases also includes Our Lady Peace) though the lyrical imagery is incredibly vivid. "Empty Handed" serves as the record's most moving cut, addressing several questions to the sexual perpetrator: "Why them? / Why did you take their innocence? / Why can't you leave them alone? / I've seen your sick and twisted ways / This world is now become your demented hideaway."

In a nutshell, Radial Angel demonstrates that it's capable of rocking out and being real, but it remains to be seen if it'll be able to grow past the recurring pattern of similar soundscapes. The fact that they bring few, if any, additional alternative elements is disappointing, although their sheer power, passion, and pensiveness indicate the potential for growth. In a nutshell, if you were a fan of the grunge era as it unfolded and have embraced the nu-metal movement, One More Last Time will by all means leave you satisfied, but it's not quite up to the originality level that would have you begging for more.