Some Kind of Zombie
The boys from Audio Adrenaline are back to serve up their fifth album, the follow-up to Bloom. The same lineup returns, along with a little guitar help from Tyler Burkham in filling out the sound. Some Kind of Zombie, however, seems to be a case of should have been--it should have been great, but it wasn't. This was a bit of a disappointment for me.
Technically, Some Kind of Zombie is as good as Bloom. Audio A continues into the mainstream alternative sound they journeyed into last time. Unfortunately, there's nothing new or groundbreaking done on SKOZ. The production is as one has come to expect from ForeFront and Ardent Records -- crisp, professional, and flawless. Unfortunately, it just doesn't raise the music that last notch and take it over the top to excellent. It makes me wonder how much of a hand executive producer Eddie DeGarmo had in the production. Musically, the boys still know how to put together a professional sound. The music just isn't 'stop me in my tracks' good like Bloom. My enjoyment of the last release could be attributed to the style change alone, but none of the songs here stick in my head like those from Bloom did. I was expecting Audio A to continue the progression they've shown with each new album, but they seemed to take a step back here. SKOZ seems old and stale, center of the road, mere pabulum for the benumbed CCM listener.
The vague vocal flavoring of Audio Adrenaline's hip-hop past is still there on "Blitz," which the Supertones' Superhorn section helps out on, but otherwise this is a continuation of their journey into the mainstream market. The percussion and bass construct a solid platform for the music to build on. The complete sound is a little more retro, with fuzzy but not quite noisy guitars and simple straightforward rhythms. This is most prominent on the Beatle-esque "God-Shaped Hole," and the 70's-ish tunes "Chevette," "Flicker," and "Superfriend" (the latter complete with fuzzy vocals and an end fade-out by a guitar plugged into an old style tube amplifier). I guess that since the 70's sound is making such a big comeback right now, Audio A is attempting to tie their popularity to the trend and cash in on it. Even in the liner notes the dress of the band and the photography is a 70's style.
The boys have not compromised their values and ideals. The lyrics are as convicting and Christ-filled as on Bloom, but a little more mature and subtle. They are still about preaching the gospel in their own unique way. They use some good allegory on the title track and here on "Lighthouse":
Swim against the tide
Keep an eye above the water
So I can see the light
I'm a man overboard
I dream about the Savior
I dream about the shore
I feel the sand
If it wasn't for the lighthouse
The album has a hidden eleventh track -- a "Criscoteque" remix of "Some Kind of Zombie." I like the remix better, with the exception of the vocals. The original version is too up and down and just doesn't flow well. It starts out solid and rocks during the bridges and choruses, but the verses are weak from Jars of Clay-sounding prerecorded drums surrounded by ethereal orchestration. The remix is more straightforward and flows better, but the vocals don't come through as well thanks to the added fuzz.
This is really a mixed bag. For big Adrenaline fans and those really blown away by Bloom, this is a must have. Otherwise, it's good but nothing to raise the dead.
By Mark Aylor
There are two directions I could go in reviewing this album. I could totally trash it as the annoyingly-overproduced, Christianese-filled, pre-packaged "safe" youth group rock that it is, and congratulate myself on my more sophisticated musical tastes. Or I could acknowledge the growth this band has undergone, their love for the Lord, and, well, the way this album finds itself in my stereo over and over.
To be honest, I really don't think Audio Adrenaline writes good songs; they just throw together some nifty guitar tones, studio effects (kind of pseudo-retro ones this time around), and a few hooks. Style with no substance. And yet, they put so much energy and enthusiasm into it that it becomes kind of enjoyable to participate with them in singing about the Lord. In the past, their lyrics have almost been a joke they were so bad, but I think they've improved. They aren't poets by any means, and down-to-earth simplicity is king here, but each song on Zombie revolves around a different metaphor, which is pretty cool. There's a football blitz, a lighthouse, a god-shaped hole (cliche, but....), a chevette, and so on.
I can't help it, I like this album! It's fun ear candy (Audio Adrenaline--the name fits!). Now if they can only learn to write good songs, I'll actually call myself a fan...
Wow! It had been so long since I heard from Audio Adrenaline
that I forgot how great they sounded. This time, they've done what
several other bands have done recently--borrow a bit from sounds of the
past. The way they put it all together was quite nice. As I
listened to the project, I couldn'’t help but hear echoes from bands I
listened to while growing up in the late 70s and 80s. Their boldness in
speaking of heavenly things perhaps caught my ear the most, however, as
it shows clearly where the band puts its priorities.
I was borrowing this CD from a friend. After hearing it once, I bought a copy for myself as well as one for my nephew. It's already become one of his (and his friend'’s) favorite CDs. It has been a while since I have really liked a new project. Even though it's a short work, this is definitely a keeper.
By Cathy Courtwright