Surprisingly The Lead, who some label as Christian punk pioneers, don’t get much attention. From their beginnings in 1984 or so, The Lead released seven different albums/eps to go along with four other self-released titles before ending up on Roxx Records to release This Past Behind and Burn this Record in 1988-1989. Since then, they’ve been pretty quiet as a group. For Again, three of the original four band members reunited and even brought on Steve Rowe of Mortification for one track. The band produced the ep and it was mixed and mastered by Gary James Noland
This album takes me back as it has that basement recording, minimal produced feel to it that “underground” bands back when I was a kid often had. In all honesty, I had not heard of The Lead until getting this ep to review, which being an old hardcore kid who grew up when the Lead were coming on to the scene, makes me scratch my head a bit. Looking back through the internet comments on The Lead, they look to have brought on a good bit of disdain from the mainstream Christian community, with is why I didn’t at least hear of them, but also disappointing as I probably would have been a fan. I also grew up in a bit of a music wasteland, so didn’t get to hear about new music, so I blame that as well.
The ep opens up with some noise and a slower intro that picks up into a mid-tempo punk rock groove when the vocals come in. Guitars are buzzy, but rough sounding, production is minimal. Think rough demo quality. The song itself, “Dressed in a Robe” is based on Revelation 19 and Nina Llopis’s vocals are dark and smooth providing a great contrast to the rough elements in the music. The song has a dark, atmospheric feel to it as well, fitting the subject matter and has in general a great feel to it, definitely mid-80’s punk. My only gripe is that the song really could have been cut at the 4 minute mark as it just sort of meanders around somewhat quietly for an extended time after that with no vocals.
“The World Tomorrow” takes things in a darker and heavier direction with guitars and feedback sounding a lot like something off of Nirvana’s Bleach. Unfortunately, Nina’s vocals are gone and replaced by Julio Rey’s awkward, very punk rock “singing”. For me the guitars and pounding drums keep this song interesting, but again the later half of the song seems to just drag and invite the skip button.
“Every Fear Forgiven” again features Julio Rey on vocals but this time they’ve taken the approach of using some effects and also to not try clean singing for delivery and the shouted approach works well with the song. Loud, rough guitars dominate the overall sound for much of the track and again the later half of the track just seems to be out of place.
“Heaving is Waiting” sees the return of Nina Llopis on vocals and a more melodic, haunting feel return to the music. Steve Rowe’s bass provides an interesting element to the song as its layered over the brooding, melodic darkness that carries the song. Abrasive guitars are still present within the track, which adds a great contrast to the bass and also lends some overall power. Nina’s vocals are simply amazing on this song. Unfortunately, you may see a trend, but to me the last two minutes or so of the song, just seem out of place and really take away from the overall impact the song could have.
This ep brings me back about 30 years in terms of its overall sound and makes me wish I had checked out The Lead back in those days. My one gripe is that the songs seem to go about one to two minutes longer than they needed to. It almost seems like the band had a target time for each song and needed filler for each track to get there. Now, not being familiar with the band, this might be how all of their material is and fans may like this approach. What I have always liked about punk rock is that there is typically no filler, not even guitar solos, so this just didn’t work for me. Although if you think about it, not fitting the mold is basically punk rock…
Written by John Jackson
1. Dressed In A Robe (Rev. 19) 5:10
2. The World Tomorrow / Adoration 5:51
3. Every Fear Forgiven 4:16
4. Heaven Is Waiting (features Steve Rowe) 6:30
Nina Llopis – Vocals, keyboards, guitar, field recording
Julio Rey – Guitar
Rob Christie – Drums
“The Lead” EP 1985
“Return Fire” Demo 1986
“Automoloch” EP 1986
“The Past Behind” EP 1987
“Burn This Record”Full-length 1989
“Live” Live album 1990
“The Lead – Automoloch” Compilation 1990
“Hardcore for Jesus” Compilation 2006
‘Wink of an Eye’ Single 2008
“Live + LoFi 84-87 – The Myspace Tracks” EP 2015
“Again” EP 2017
Record Label: Roxx Records, Feb. 2018
Video for ‘Dressed In A Robe (Rev. 19)