Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Fear Not - Fear Not
   
Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock Produced By: Dino & John Elefante
Record Label: Pakaderm /Roxx Records Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1993 / 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 12 Rating: 90%
Running Time:

Fear Not - Fear Not - Roxx Records re-issue

There are many symbols of class in the field of hard music.  If you think of power metal, you think of Blind Guardian and Theocracy – of progressive metal, you think of Dream Theater and Affector – and of thrash metal, you think of Megadeth, Metallica and old school Deliverance.  When you mellow out a bit and think of AOR and melodic hard rock, you have, well, a whole lot of options to think about.  On the mainstream side of the fence, the first that come to mind are big names such as Foreigner, Journey and Survivor, although do not discount equally strong contenders Giant, Harem Scarem and TNT.  Options are somewhat limited within Christian hard music circles, which might have found the form peaking in the early to mid nineties.  One of my favorites is Guardian and its 1990 sophomore release Fire & Love (95% Angelic Warlord review), while I laud equally Novella and its debut full length One Big Sky from 1991.  Of equal import and no less accomplished is Fear Not, whom released on Pakaderm Records in 1993 its self-titled debut offering. 

Fear Not has a storied history that traces to 1991 when it formed initially under the name Love Life and released its debut album Goodbye Lady Jane via Blonde Vinyl Records.  Problem, however, is that due to specializing in alternative music, Blonde Vinyl did not know how to promote a hard rock band, let alone had the resources to do so.  When further factoring a move to a heavier musical direction not to mention band turnover - Chris Howell supplanted original guitarist Darin Eby - a change to a new moniker was in order.  Enter guitarist Michael Cutting (Holy Soldier), who was in the group a short time after the arrival of Howell, and his suggestion of the name Fear No Evil, which was later shortened to the more concise Fear Not.  A showcase performance subsequently led to Fear Not signing a deal with Pakaderm. 

Having been long out of print and turning into a highly sought after collectors item - eBay listings have exceeded $100 - Fear Not was re-mastered (courtesy of Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound) and re-issued by Roxx Records in December of 2017 on vinyl (100 purple copies and 200 black) and CD (500 copies in addition to two bonus tracks).  Also of note is the improved cover art, which replaces the ‘hippie psychedelic’ flower border and lime green/pink band logo of the original with a more aesthetically pleasing black border and orange pin stripe band logo (credit Ronald Wall). Layout to the booklet attributes to Scott Waters (No Life Til Metal).

Fear Not - Fear Not

A first class vocalist proves crucial in helping a melodic hard rock act stand out from the crowd and such is what we have in Fear Not front man Larry Worley, whom brings a raspy and soulful style in perfect step with the genre.  Opening cut “Give It Up” allows him opportunity to display said abilities, as he soars and wails throughout a cut that brings all the trimmings in the form of grooving bass, driving guitars, glistening vocal melodies and hooks to spare.

“We Have A God” maintains the undisguised momentum but in the overall heavier package- credit Fear Not for delivering a much needed edge of muscle to all things AOR and melodic rock.  Lending to the brusque scene are shouted backing vocals and a stretch of blinding lead guitar that would do Tony Palacios of Guardian proud (both Worley and Howell handle guitar duties).  Tying everything together is the brilliant ‘Yes, we have a God. And His name is Jesus’ hard rock anthem refrain.
 
“Mr. Compromise” tempers initiative towards mid-tempo territory in lending more substantial guitar walls and the deep-rooted sense of groove to match.  Overall feel is driving and trenchant, with low end reveling in the muscular and refrain flowing with its animated - do I dare say buoyant? - feel.  This one delivers a wallop in ranking with the albums heaviest.

A melodic rock album would not be complete without a customary ballad and such is what we have in “Till The End Of My Days”.  Yes, some of the all out energy and guitar propensities to its predecessors might be diminished by it is by no means bland all the same, as more than enough creative hooks are delivered to garner your attention and emotional proclivities are on high.  Equally formidable is the imposing bass line of Rod Romero.

In my opinion, “Suicide Sunshine” represents the group’s best effort.  I appreciate how the song comes in at a full six minutes, with the opening minute instrumental as tranquil overtures transition at once to a more forthright demeanor.  Mid-paced momentum maintains itself the rest of the way, with verses powering ahead to forwardly placed guitars and refrain effortlessly flows to big doses of harmony vocals.  The lighter aspects at the start return for the instrumental moments. 

Forget AOR and melodic hard rock, “Money, Money” borders on all out metal.  A powerhouse showstopper, the song pushes the boundaries of resolute heaviness as guitars reflect some bluesy twinges and Worley belts it out with his trademark grit and rasp.  Of equal note is the thunderous drum sound coming from timekeeper Gary Hanson.

“Easy Come Easy Go” might be the albums most plodding piece, but it proves no less able.  It reflects a dark and pensive feel as it flows in reticent fashion only to explode exponentially to the hulking guitars that carry the deliberate remaining distance.  Lending a contrasting lighter touch are airy harmony vocals and a stretch of melodic lead guitar.

“There Is Love” jumps starts at once to punchy bass and roaring feedback, with the group again approaching all out metal territory - Fear Not much to its credit sidesteps any watered down AOR proclivities - in reflecting upon the heated, sullen and impassioned.  I love how bluesy grit defines guitars and enough accessible hooks rise above the surface to touch upon the commercial.  A joining of the aggressive and melodic is the feel conveyed.

A return to up-tempo territory, “Mad World” stands out as a four-minute energy burst in romping its distance to full on energy, as verses bite and snarl with their churlish demeanor and refrain tempers in taking a darker if not understated low key tone.  Highlight is Howell, who decorates the songs length with his austere licks and chops, and Worley gravelly as always in unleashing the conclusive line at the end: ‘God is the answer, and that’s all’.

“Take Hold” closes the album as a classy acoustic based ballad.  I particularly enjoy the Latin flair to the instrumental passage (with fitting Spanish guitar solo) and smattering of piano that decorates the backend.  Coming to mind in the process is “Never Say Goodbye”, the closing ballad to Guardian’s as noted Fire & Love release. 

First bonus track “You Got Love”, originally appearing on the 2015 digitally released Liberty N’ Justice EP Life Songs, is a customary melodic hard rocker that fits nicely with the Fear Not material.  The song drifts between moments acoustic laced and those with rhythm guitars maneuvering to the front of the mix in asking a relevant question: You’ve got love, but does love have you?  “Love Is Alright”, never previously released, follows in a similar vein but steadier guitar driven and with the more deliberate edges musically.  A shred guitar solo tops things off.  

Whereas Goodbye Lady Jane was recorded in two weeks, Fear Not took three months to record while benefiting from Elefante production.  Elefante brothers John and Dino are at their best working with melodic rock acts such as Guardian and Petra, but might have been out of their elements with a high energy metal band such as Barren Cross, whose releases Atomic Arena and State Of Control suffered from too much polish at the hand of the two.  That polish, however, works wonders on Fear Not in allowing for needed amounts of gloss but without taking away from its youthful vigor and energy.  When placed alongside, the original Pakaderm version sounds fine, but the Roxx Records re-mastering takes things to the next level with an enhanced low end (bass permeates throughout the mix) and guitars that provide added edge and bite (you will be challenged not to label this a metal album).   

Lyrically, it would not be out of line to suggest that Fear Not is a ministry band.  Consider “Give It Up” in this capacity -

Give it up, you can’t run away
Today’s tomorrow’s yesterday
If you want to save your soul
You’ve got to let it go

Give it up
Pain is not a crime
If your heart is doing time
And you want to see it free
You have to give it up

- and “We Have A God”:

Waiting for the tumble
Standing on the fault line
Heading out of bounds
Running of game time
We found a love straight from the top
And it’s coming down, aint’ going to stop

Yes, we have a God
And His name is Jesus
Yes we have a God
And I know He’ll never leave us

“Mad World” talks about our fallen world:

Father sighs
As He looks down on his starving child
Crying out, Lord this place is running wild
On the corner stands the face of our despair

It’s a mad world, it’s a bad, bad world
We talk solutions
But they all just fade away
It’s a mad world, it’s a bad, bad world
Where are the answers to the problems of today

“Money Money” focuses on materialism:

Some people say that money is the lord of all
But your cash ain’t going to help you
When you’re headed for a fall
Not a single little minute will your money buy
When you’re headed for the flames
Instead of the sky

Money, money
You don’t need no material things
Money, money
You are all I need
Money, money,
You can’t buy what you get for free

Hindsight might be 20/20, but I cannot help but feel Fear Not might have received greater acclaim in the late eighties as opposed to the grungy, flannel short wearing early nineties of its release.  In other words, it potentially came out 4 to 5 years too late.  Regardless of era, one cannot deny the albums virtues in the form of commercial hooks, energetic band performance and understated heaviness.  I enjoyed revisiting Fear Not after a several year layoff on the heels of the Roxx Records re-issue, and it sounds as fresh and relevant as ever- and even more so with the improved re-mastering.  There is something about many mid-eighties to early nineties albums that while good for the time sound so much better when brought up to modern production standards.  Recent re-issues of albums by Deliverance, Holy Soldier, Barnabas, Sacred Warrior and Guardian spell this out and all the more so Fear Not whose self-titled debut comes highly recommended in its upgraded and improved re-issued form.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Give It Up” (3:38), “We Have A God” (3:13), “Mr. Compromise” (4:29), “Till The End Of My Days” (4:35), “Suicide Sunshine” (5:47), “Money, Money” (4:02), “Easy Come Easy Go” (4:35), “There Is Love” (3:51), “Mad World” (4:05), “Take Hold” (4:42), “You Got Love (CD Bonus Track) (4:23), “Love Is Alright” (CD Bonus Track) (4:10_

Musicians
Larry Worley - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Chris Howell - Guitars
Rod Romero - Bass
Gary Hanson - Drums

Additional Musicians
E.L. McNeely - Bass

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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