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The Benjamin Gate
2001 ForeFront Records
The best word I can think of to describe Untitled, the debut project from South African rock band The Benjamin Gate, is a rather nondescript word- "cool." Yes, Untitled is very, very cool. The Benjamin Gate's sound is very European, and this album is one of the freshest CD's to come out in quite some time. The Benjamin Gate sounds very unique, and the closest thing I can compare them to is Chasing Furies, although they also remind me of the Cranberries, Luna Halo, or SCSI at times. With heavy bass and a plethora of guitar effects, the music is melodic and yet very noisy.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this album is the fantastic rock 'n' roll voice of 19 year-old lead singer Adrienne Liesching. Her vocals are so unique and powerful that one cannot help but enjoy them. Her voice goes from deep and melodic (on "All Over Me") to aggressive and rock star-ish ("Lay It Down") to haunting, Dido-esque ("Halo").
The variety on Untitled is incredible. "Nightglow" is a European techno/dance song, while the thrashing rock song "Rush" features a brief rap interlude, and "Hands" is a thoughtful piano ballad. Many of the songs, however, such as "Scream," "Blow My Mind," and "Live Out Loud," are straight up modern rock.
The lyrics are generally worshipful with a level of poetry and introspection in Liesching's lyrics that I enjoy. With high doses of originality, good lyrics, great rock music, and excellent vocals, this is one record that any rock fan's collection is incomplete without.
Josh Hurst 10/17/2001
The problem with reviewing this CD is that this band is trying to actually do something a little different from most other bands. Sure, there are lots of female-fronted rock bands, but few lead vocalists have a set of pipes quite as strong as young Adrienne Liesching. Not many straight-up rock bands mix quite so much electronic noise into the songs to create a soundscape quite this lush. Producer Quinlan deserves kudos for his work on this project. Picture a harder-edged Plumb, with better singing, and you're part of the way there.
Lyrically, this album is direct and bold with its statements of hope and faith in Christ. The first radio single off this album, "All Over Me" perhaps best demonstrates the overall tone of the album.
Wave come, wave fallThere is a good use of poetic imagery throughout.
As mentioned before, there is a definite electronic influence on the otherwise fairly straight hard-rock stylings. However, one of the best tracks on the album, the sparse, beautiful "Hands" is just Liesching on voice and some piano with some minor synth work. Here the full range of Liesching's vocal expression has room to stretch in a way that the rockier stylings don't usually permit.
Other tracks which stand out include "Rush" which features Liesching rapping Psalm 1 over the end of the song, "Lay It Down" with its intense chorus, and the hidden track on the cd, which is actually worth the lengthy wait after track 12.
For an introductory album, this is an exceptional one, largely on the strength of the vocal work and the solid pop sensibilities of the music. If The Benjamin Gate continues to grow and develop, this could be one of the more important bands of the first decade of the 21st century.
Alex Klages 12/1/2001