Straight from Switzerland comes Rainforce, bringing back a straight ahead hard rock sound from the late 70’s and 80’s.
Rainforce is the brainchild of Andy La Morte and Matt Brand, both from the Swiss doom metal band Pÿlon. They picked up Benjamin Mann (Power of God) from Germany and Maltese singer Jordan Cutajar, who also spent some time in Pÿlon.
Some albums transport the listener to another era and Rainforce seem to be aiming at that on their debut album Lion’s Den. Given the number of ex- and current Pÿlon members in the band, one might think this will be another doom metal project, but that is not even close to what is going on in these songs. Think late 70’s and 80’s hard rock like Nazareth, Sabbath, and AC/DC with a heavy dose of bands like Petra and Whitecross, and you have a pretty good idea of what Rainforce sounds like. Starting out with a group shout of “We are living in lion’s den” in full 80’s hair metal style and then the band comes in. Unfortunately, the production and some of the guitar overlays do not sound very good at all and even the lion roar to kick off this track seems like it was added from several rooms away. Lyrically, the band’s Christian beliefs come through loud and clear but to the point it seems a bit forced, but in that respect as well, this album reminds me of those older bands and the early days of “Christian Rock”.
“My Rock” starts out with a much tougher, fast riff and galloping drums that give the listener a lot of hope for the song but again the lyrics come across as a bit dated and almost cheesy, but maybe I’m looking for too much. Jordan Cutajar’s vocals at times are Brian Johnson and at other times not, and sometimes seem a bit out of place. In terms of tonal quality, I continually get a vibe similar to the studio version of “Snowblind” but a bit duller.
The first video clip for “Feed Me” can serve as a good introduction to Rainforce. In this case the band seems to be channeling Tom Keifer and Cinderella for much of the song. Similarly, “I am Yours”,“Desert Sand” and “He Came” have that 80’s MTV Headbanger’s Ball metal feel to it and just on first listen, fans of that era can predict the direction the song is going to take. I would like to call out the excellent guitar work on “I am Yours”, especially since it sounds more like part of the song as opposed to some extra pieces added on at the end.
For some very different twists on the album there is the instrumental “Speechless” and the acoustic, near ballad “Shine a Light” that closes out the album
All told, Rainforce have put together a collection of songs that will likely appeal to fans of older Christian rock. Unfortunately, the mixing seems a bit off to my ears as performances are solid, vocals are reminiscent of many of the greats of the genre and there are some catchy riffs and rhythms.
Written by John Jackson
01. Lion’s Den (with Philipp Rölli)
02. My Rock (with Rex D. Scott)
03. Feed Me (I’m Hungry)
04. I Am Yours (with Rex Carroll)
05. Speechless (with Philipp Rölli)
06. New Jerusalem (with Hämu Plüss)
07. Desert Sand (with Jim LaVerde)
08. The Gods Have Failed (with Philippe “The Greis” Kreis)
09. He Came To Set The Captives Free (with Oliver Schneider & Philipp Rölli)
10. Shine A Light (with Kevin Wright & Philipp Rölli)
Jordan Cutajar: Vocals
Andy La Morte – Guitars
Matt Brand – Bass
Benjamin Mann – Drums
Record Label: Roxx Records, April 2017