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WHITECROSS
THE BEST OF ROCK, THE WORST OF ROCK

Let's just compile a list of everything that's ever wrong with Christian music:
It's usually out of date; there wasn't a Christian grunge band until 1994.
It's usually highly unoriginal, often directly cloning another band's work.
It's often poor quality and recorded on a low budget.
The lyrics are often agonisingly cheesy.
The music isn't usually particularly good.
Lack of attitude. Let's face it: Real rock & roll bands are as much about attitude as music. Christian bands usually have none.
Is that everything? It'll do for now.

     Anyway, to demonstrate everything that is wrong with Christian music, I have picked Whitecross. Sure, I could've done a lot better. Gethsemane Rose were unlimitedly diabolical, and Neon Cross also displayed an impressively consistent lack of ability. Whitecross are a good example because they at times border on the brilliant, coming up with a song that unarguably rocks. They will then follow it up with a song so bad that Trixter wouldn't use it for a B-side.
     Take "Simple Man". This song is bad.  More than that, it is awful, terrible, dreadful, bad, appalling, ghastly, horrific, dire, very bad, abysmal, inexcusable, unspeakable, atrocious, very very bad, horrible, horrendous, horrifying, crappy, vile, despicable, contemptible, stinking, loathsome, foul, abominable, very very very bad, horrid, repellent, repugnant, disgusting, nauseating, repulsive, abhorrent, diabolical, and very very very very bad. Don't believe me? I present a selection of the lyrics for your digestion (and then regurgitation). Prepare to see your breakfast in reverse.
"There's a house on the corner with a light I can see,
And standing in the door is the only girl for me.
The reason that she loves me, and we walk hand in hand,
Is because I'm a Christian, and we both know where we stand.
I'm a simple man and I love the Lord,
We know that He'll provide our needs.
Yes, I'm a simple man and I love the Lord
His love is everything to me.
Now if you see me life, as happy as can be…" etc etc. You are now looking at your lunch. Again. It was much nicer the first time, huh? All together now: "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame, Whitecross you give God a bad name." I suppose we are supposed to be touched by the simple sincerity of their faith, but for goodness' sake, even Celine Dion is never that sickening. It's cool to be proud of what you believe, but, guys, can't you find a way to express it a little bit more creatively?
     Now onto the good stuff. Rex Carroll is a technically impressive guitarist; so good that he manages to overcome little details like the fact that he is ginger, bearded, and balding. No one this side of Yngwie Malmsteen is more flamboyant. If there's a gap that can be filled with a shredding guitar break, he will fill it. Somehow, it works though. Maybe it's because I've heard the good stuff so many times, but his guitar acrobatics still manage to be melodic and often memorable, becoming part of the songs. He writes a lot of great, meaty riffs too. Vocalist Scott Wenzel is very distinctive… that is until you realise that he sounds exactly like Ratt's Stephen Pearcy. Melodically, a lot of the songs are great. A typical Whitecross album breaks down something like this:
10 songs and an "Eruption" rip-off guitar solo. Of those ten songs, three to four will contain lyrics so excruciating that they render the song unlistenable. A similar number will be musically weak; either a bit thin sounding, a poor melody, or a lack of hooks. Hopefully, the songs with the bad lyrics will be the same as the ones with the bad music. Then you're onto the good stuff; either the lyrical corn is kept to a minimum, or occasionally Rex Carroll reaches a creative height so spectacular that it overcomes any lyrical shortcomings. There were plans to review all the Whitecross albums on this website but the comments on them would be too similar, so instead here's a brief run-down:
Whitecross (1987) Scott Wenzel sounds like Stephen Pearcy, and Rex Carroll's guitar playing open up Warren DeMartini comparisons. It's more melodic though, with dashes of Van Halen and Bon Jovi. The Ratt comparisons continue with "Signs of the End", a "Lack of Communication" rewrite. "No Way I'm Goin' Down", "He is the Rock", and "Who Will You Follow", however, are moments of melodic metal class.  [5]
Hammer & Nail (1988) More of the same… "Take It to the Limit" is a magnificent highlight. Rex Carroll's guitar fills are widdlesome in the extreme, but work perfectly as melodic hooks. You see the beginning of the Whitecross slow rocker in "Because of Jesus".  There'll be a lot of these from now on. They all sound the same. [5]
Triumphant Return (1989) Includes "Simple Man" (minus 100 points), but also contains "Down", a superbly constructed and reasonably original rocker that is slower without sounding like all the other Whitecross slow rockers.  "Attention Please" rocks hard, and so does "Red Light"; this is definitely the Whitecross release with the least filler. "Heaven's Calling Tonight" would be a classic but the lyric bug strikes. Shame; there are a number of Whitecross songs that would be awesome with improved lyrics. [6]
In the Kingdom (1991) This sees the start of a disturbing trend with the title track. It's a sort of "We Are the World" anthemic power ballad for Christians, and actually extremely good. Unfortunately, on the back of its success the next album would be packed with copies of it. "No Second Chances" is a superb pop-metal opener, and "Good Enough" is a Van Halen-style boogie rocker. "Holy War" is a bit schizophrenic; a funky rock opening gives way to a rap verse, then an anthemic chorus, and finally a sort of choral rock hymn outro, but the individual parts are all great. "Love is Our Weapon" is a great song let down by the embarrassing, choir-like vocal arrangement and twee lyrics. [6]
High Gear (1992) HOW many ballads???? I have no idea if "My Love" and "I'm Askin' You Today" are any good; there are so many ballads in a row that I couldn't get through them all. "High Gear" and "I Shout" are slow rockers that could basically be interchanged because they're the same song. "Dancin' in Heaven" has a great riff but whose idea was it to make the vocal melody follow the riff? It was the wrong move. "In America" and "Coming Home" are pretty good re-writes of "in The Kingdom", while "Gonna Keep On" is well-written. The highlight is closer "Long Road to Walk", which in spite of some dodgy rasps from Wenzel ("Oh LOOOOOOOOOOVE!") combines blues with hard rock effectively. [4]
Now, what we need is a decent best-of which has all those good tracks. There have been a million Whitecross best-ofs, and they finally got it right with
By Demand (1995). The only shortcoming is that it only has 11 tracks. The songs are supposed to be chosen as the songs fans wanted to hear in concert. Are you telling me Whitecross sets only lasted for 40 minutes? Come on! If they'd used the full 80 minute capacity of this CD, this could have been a comprehensive collection of every good Whitecross song. As it is, it still showcases the band at their absolute best. With exciting guitar riffs and solos, strong vocals, and big hooks, fans of any band featured on this site would be well served by this release. [8]
There are more Whitecross albums, but none worth mentioning.

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