Sophomore success, South Africa style

Contact (Forefront Records)

The Benjamin Gate

By Kory Wilcoxson

The Benjamin Gate made quite a splash last year with its debut album Untitled. The band garnered both critical and popular success, especially for the entrancing single, "All Over Me," and set the bar high for the second effort.

The follow-up does not disappoint. Contact not only continues the South African band's unique sound, the album builds on it, adding both breadth and depth to their repertoire and expanding their musical capabilities.

The Benjamin Gate's sound can best be described as the Cranberries with their finger in a light socket. Both bands soar on the wings of airy vocals, but The Benjamin Gate has much sharper and diverse edge to its music. It takes a foundation of power pop and blends in a mixture of hard rock and techno, enough to sound innovative without getting too obtuse.

As more and more Christian bands are finding their way onto the popular airwaves (P.O.D., Creed), The Benjamin Gate has crafted a sound that is radio-ready. The first single, "Do What You Say," is heavy on searing guitar and boasts a brief but catchy hook. The better news is the single is far from the best song on Contact; "Lift Me Up" and "This Is Not" are better showcases for the band's wares.