|Musical Style: Hard Rock/Acoustic||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Versailles||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Liberty N' Justice|
|Tracks: 18||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 72:35|
While Liberty N’ Justice has been around since the early nineties, releasing such albums as Armed For The Cross (1992), Big Guns (1994), Forever Till The End (1996) and Bargain Bin (2000) in its initial form, it did not start to come into its own until 2005 with the “all star project” Welcome To The Revolution. Featuring the contributions of eighteen lead vocalist, including Michael Sweet (Stryper), Lou Gramm (Foreigner) and Jamie Rowe (Guardian), Welcome To The Revolution set the stage for the two releases that would follow: Soundtrack Of A Soul (2006) and Independence Day (2007). The pair maintained the “all star trend” by showcasing lead vocal performances by Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Dale Thompson (Bride) Stephen Pearcey (Ratt), Jack Russell (Great White), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Jani Lane (Warrant), David Raymond Reeves (Neon Cross) and many others (not to mention a host of guest musicians too numerous to mention). Finally, in the spring of 2008 Liberty N’ Justice followed up with 4 All: The Best of LNJ, an eighteen track compilation made up of 3 songs from Welcome To The Revolution, 5 from Soundtrack Of A Soul, 6 from Independence Day and 4 new compositions.
As far as compilations go, 4 All: The Best of LNJ is as good as it gets- there is not a bad track here. Yes, I might have made a different selection or two here and there but you cannot go wrong with any of the songs chosen. As a matter of fact, one of the challenges facing founding member Justin Murr when putting 4 All together must have been the volume of quality material to choose from. In other words, one would be hard pressed to come up with an inadequate track listing for an LNJ compilation, which reflects favorably upon the three releases preceding 4 All. Needless to say, Justin came through, but it still must be noted that the songs selected trend towards those including guest appearance by many of the better known or bigger names of the hard music scene (something I cannot find fault with; I would have done the same thing myself). Hence, the possible exclusion of noteworthy tracks in which Ez Gomer (Jet Circus), Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire), Josh Kramer (Saint) and David Raymond Reeves (Neon Cross) participate.
It also must be mentioned the high quality of the packaging of 4 All, which includes a twenty page mini-booklet made up of short biographical sketches of many of the artists appearing on the project.
One of the highlights to 4 All are its four new compositions. What stands out about the four is their uniqueness in that they stay true to the LNJ hard rocking – and all star – formula without sounding the same.
“We Have A God”, originally performed by Fear Not on its 1993 self-titled debut, gets things underway. As a matter of fact, the song features a guest appearance by original Fear Not vocalist Larry Worley, who is joined by Derrick LeFever of Lillian Axe. This one includes all the elements that made the commercial hard rock scene of the eighties so successful: big chorus, driving rhythm guitar sound and a huge hook that will pull you in upon first listen. The gritty vocals of Worley and LeFevre only serve to help put “We Have A God” (which really stays true to the original) over the top.
Dug Pinnick of King’s X provides lead vocals on “Rage”, a slower and more laid back composition that exudes some slight modern underpinnings. The song, with its sturdy low end and driving chorus in which the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix, could easily have been performed by King’s X at any stage of its three decade career (just throw in some of the bands trademark swirling vocal harmonies). Pinnick, of course, shines with his classic mid-octave vocal style.
“Devil In The Details” stands out not just for its musical prowess but lyrical direction focusing on the issues of counting the cost and personal accountability:
Everybody wants the harvest
But nobody wants the rain
Everybody want the cross
But nobody wants the pain
Everybody wants to judge
But nobody takes the blame
Everybody wants forever
But nobody wants to change
Ouch! Talk about hitting the nail on the head! These are some of the most spot on lyrics I have come across in some time.
Musically, “Devil In The Details” proves a classy melodic hard rocker that finds vocalist Steve Brown (Trixter) adding the perfect touch with his gritty lead vocal style (he reminds me a bit of Jamie Rowe). A stretch of complementary fast fingered lead work tops things off.
“Author Of The Flame’, in which Dale (vocals) and Troy (guitars) Thompson participate, might be the more aggressive of the four. The song moves forward slowly from the start, showcasing a slight symphonic touch in the process, until it briefly pauses ahead of a snarling rhythm guitar kicking in. “Author Of The Flame” proceeds to impel itself at the more upbeat tempo, a touch of extreme vocals highlighting the blistering scene just prior to a driving chorus delivered in near heavy duty fashion. Dale sounds as good as ever with his magnetic vocal delivery.
Welcome To The Revolution
On its 2005 “all star” debut Welcome To The Revolution, Liberty N’ Justice delivers a bit of variety, staying mostly in hard rock and acoustic territory (direction it would take on its subsequent two releases) but delivering some modern and rap (yes, we agree to forgive them!) moments as well. Three great songs were taken from the album: “Blind Man’s Bluff”, “Noise” and “Shed My Skin”. Michael Sweet handles lead vocals on “Blind Man’s Bluff”, a Stryper-like melodic metal piece standing out with its catchy chorus and decisive guitar driven momentum. Add some lush backing vocals and an Oz Fox guitar solo and this would sound right at home on To Hell With The Devil. “Noise” ranks with the heaviest songs recorded by LNJ. With Jamie Rowe (Guardian) lending his raspy vocal flavorings, the song chops its way from start to finish in amalgamating a muscular chorus with a faith based lyrical direction: Come take a ride on the other side. Faith like a child make you feel alive. Lou Gramm (Foreigner) fronts the easy going “Shed My Skin”. This one proves a laid back piece with highlighting traces of piano and organ helping to create an almost soulful – if not bluesy – environment. The chorus hook, again, is very catching and almost comes across commercial in feel. Beautiful song.
Soundtrack Of A Soul
Soundtrack Of A Soul finds LNJ heading in an eighties influenced hard rock direction. The album stands out as quite the consistent outing that showcases a plethora of material this reviewer considers “compilation worthy”; needless to say, the right selections were made. “Another Nail” and “Killer Grin”, for instance, are two complementary upbeat hard rockers that feature Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) and Stephen Pearcey (Ratt) respectively. “Another Nail” gives rise to just the right amount of sass flavored swagger and “Killer Grin” a hook filled chorus of the animated variety. You also cannot go wrong with the acoustic laced hard rock of “Sight Unseen” – very underrated vocal performance by Leif Garret on this one – and “Thy Will Be Done”, an almost mood filled number in which Mark Slaughter (Slaughter) and Pete Loran (Trixter) lend their vocal abilities. These two almost hint at the acoustic based direction LNJ would take on Independence Day. Lastly, “Flinch” might deliver some modern hard rock flavorings but still stands out as one of the better songs from Soundtrack Of A Soul with its gripping chorus and gravelly vocal approach of Tony Harnell (TNT).
LNJ proves on Independence Day that change is good as a move is made towards a heavy acoustic rock direction- all the while reflecting many of the eighties sensibilities characteristic to Soundtrack Of A Soul. A ton of maturity is delivered in the process. Just check out the John Corabi fronted “Doubting Thomas”, a stylish piece highlighted over its final two minutes by a run of bluesy lead guitar, and the more up-tempo sounds of “Monkey Dance”, which finds Jack Russell (Great White) standing out with his scratchy vocal abilities. A heavy duty low end shores up “Soldier”, a showy piece complemented by the raspy touch provided by Kelly Keaggy (Night Ranger) and Mark Slaughter, while “Independence Day” provides an anthem-like approach in combining a pronounced bass line with Kelly Kelling’s (Baton Rouge) full sounding voice. The ballad “Praying For A Miracle”, a song highlighted by Ted Poley’s (Danger Danger) bountiful delivery, joins an acoustic guitar with a piano. Closing things out is Jani Lane (Warrant) and the emotional feel characteristic to the haunting “Addiction”. The only disappointment worth mentioning is the exclusion of the low key “Snake Eat Snake”: I might have chosen this one – or the upbeat “Bullet, Train, Breakdown” – over “Addiction”; that said, when you have such a high volume of quality material to choose from some good songs are going to get left “on the cutting room floor”.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “We Have A God” (3:12), “Rage” (4:05), “Devil In The Details” (4:38), “Author Of The Flame” (4:40), “Blind Man’s Bluff” (3:52), “Noise” (3:53), “Shed My Skin” (3:45), “Another Nail” (4:22), “Sight Unseen” (4:44), “Flinch” (3:38), “Thy Will Be Done” (4:25), “Killer Grin” (3:38), “Doubting Thomas” (5:03), “Monkey Dance” (3:31), “Soldier” (4:16), “Independence Day” (4:15), “Praying For A Miracle” (3:14), “Addiction” (3:23)
Also Reviewed: Liberty N’ Justice – Soundtrack Of A Soul, Liberty N’ Justice – Independence Day