Dissident Prophet 
We're Not Grasshoppers 
MGL Granite Records (US distribution by Rad Rockers) 

Despite getting signed at their second gig, the road to this debut album has been long for Dissident Prophet. Having released three singles, all  of which have failed to make much of an impact, they have spent some time playing clubs across the country and selling merchandise privately, attempting to build up recognition while their record company held onto the album.  This has, of course, been good for them as their sound and songs have been developed by this process, and their live show has improved immeasurably.  Now the album is finally released, and things are looking up for the band. 

The band is a four piece which formed from the ashes of several British bands about three years ago, one of which, "The Pink Dandelions," had quite a following within British folk-rock circles.  Their sound is definitely power-pop and there are clear influences from a wide variety of bands although these influences are pooled to form some extremely innovative music. The beginning of the opener, "Real Love," reminds me of The Choir with its delayed guitar sound, whilst REM, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and The Pixies have been cited as other influences. The sound is very contemporary and goes down well live, with Tom Livemore's creative lead guitar parts often claiming a great deal of attention and also bringing on the Pink Floyd and Radiohead comparisons as he melds experimentation with modern rock. 

The songs are always guitar and bass-driven and are mainly dark and brooding but without a lack in energy. Good use is made of distortion, delay, and wah. The lead and rhythm guitars of Tom Livemore and Andy Jennings mesh well with Simon Smith's bass and John Large's 
drums, giving the songs a certain power. 

Lyrically, the themes are varied. The band wears its Christian faith on its collective sleeve whilst showing a level of maturity which has come from attempting to live out that faith in their culture.  

In the song "Let It Go," the lyrics explore our constant quest for control and the holes it can lead us into.  

      You've been holding onto your life 
      Like it's something that you own 
      Something you can take control of 
      Deep within your comfort zone 
      Yet you're worried for the future 
      And you read your lucky stars 
      There's got to be much more 
      Than being stranded where you are
This is a song which comes out with an openly evangelistic message, as do several of the tracks, but (thankfully) they do seem to stay on the right side of the thin line between sharing and preaching.  

The vocals are strong and passionately sung, Andy Jennings's strong West Midlands accent a change from the usual Liverpool and Manchester accents in British power pop. The vocals are especially passionate on the standout "Unconditional Love," which moves from a quiet delayed guitar to bring in all the instruments and build to a powerful, emotional ending complete with screaming guitars and encompassing an absolutely wonderful guitar solo. The lyrics are poignantly direct, 

     I asked you how much you loved me, 
     You cried out in pain 
     And then you died
With the use of what would be considered a swear word in the song, "Watching All Alone," Dissident Prophet are sure to raise a few eyebrows if they venture far into the christian marketplace.  They have managed to land a mainstream distribution deal, however, and seem comfortable where they are, under no pressure to conform their message to fit in with the standards expected by the CCM industry. 

There are fourteen tracks on this disc, and I do feel that the album might work better with a couple less tracks - stopping any danger of overdoing things. Having said that, this album is one of the better debuts I have heard this year and is probably worth getting for "Unconditional Love" alone.  
 
By James Stewart 

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