American Standard (Alarma)
Every Day Life
Live in Concert - Welcome to the Freakshow (Forefront)

By Robert Gruber

"Christian rock" is a term that generally invites snickers from so-called "serious" music fans. The idea of something wild as rock 'n' roll being de-fanged and programmed with a single-minded gospel message is abhorrent to these people. Granted, there have been bands in the past that may have contributed to this soft image, but anymore, it's not unthinkable for a Christian rock act to speak in relevant terms in a bold - dare I say, dangerous - style.

Enter Every Day Life. This is Christian music that will scare your parents. Equal parts hardcore and hip hop (they call it 'rap-core'), E.D.L's speedy riffer-rama bring to mind acts like Downset and (to a lesser extent) Rage Against the Machine. Frontman Tedd Cookersly raps with skills that could make a Bone Thug shudder, but then he'll throw in this inhuman, utterly unreal guttural shriek, kind of an "urrrrrrrRRRRGGGGGGhhhhHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Putting this over the band's bone-crushing rhythmic attack makes for altogether different Christian rock, one that shoves aside the milquetoast stereotypes.

Last year's ambitious "Freakshow" tour brought DC Talk to a whole new level in terms of delivering the goods live. Not only was their show visually stunning, but musically, they had emerged from crisp, ADAT backings and drum machines to a raw, muscular intensity. That new sound is captured to full effect on dc Talk's new live disc, Welcome to the Freakshow.

At nearly 80 minutes, Freakshow includes eight songs from Jesus Freak, plus revamped versions of "classics" like "Walls," "Luv Is A Verb," "The Hardway" and "Jesus Is Just Alright." They also include spirited covers of the Beatles' "Help" and R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As we Know it."

Far from being a note-for-note stage recreation of hits from their Jesus Freak album, Freakshow bears a woolly sound of its own, and becomes a very exciting party disc that you can stand to hear over and over again.