Bride – “Are You Awake?”

 Posted by on August 12, 2023 at 16:59  Add comments
Aug 122023

Could this be the last Bride album? It seems like this line has been tossed around for decades since “Tsar Bomba” if not earlier. There is a greater chance now than ever, but why should we worry? Much like the apocalypse, we know not the hour when Bride will stop rocking, but for now let’s turn our attention to the newest offering of the Early Fathers of Christian Metal.

For those that are new to Bride, they have been making music in one form or another since 1983. The constant nucleus of the band are brothers Dale and Troy Thompson who handle vocals and guitars respectively. They have adapted to the musical trends while keeping their own approach to evangelical hard rock and metal. With many long-running bands, there are questions around what to expect; what have they played now that they haven’t played yet? Is it better than their hallmark record (which would be “Snakes on the Playground” for Bride)?

“Are You Awake?” is an incredibly catchy, true-to-form Bride record from top to bottom. Twelve tracks of metal-infused hard rock that connect together to form a cohesive work that would play well next to “Snakes” but show a musical maturity from a four decade career. They thrive at the higher tempos with in-your-face lyrics, but take breaks to show their musical sensitivity with slower heavier tunes like “12 O’Clock Apocalypse” and the ballad “All I Wanted.” Although this isn’t my go-to style, the record has grown on me with each play.

The song craft is seamless and engaging, not overstaying their welcome on songs. They ebb and flow changing instrumentation in sections with occasional break downs. Each change brings with it something new to hear. High speed hard rock is their main schtick, but they give a firm nod to their metal beginnings in the songs with heavier djenty riffs.

Dale’s voice is the most identifiable element of Bride. The intensity that he sings and still doesn’t scream is a great effect. His strong rhythmic sensibility is so catchy that if he wasn’t singing, he’d be rapping. He also uses pitch bending and blues tones to demonstrate his ability to carry a tune well. One thing I’d say is that on the ballad “All I Wanted,” the timbre of his voice reminded me of Axel Rose of Guns ‘n Roses, which normally would not be a high point, but it works.

Supporting Dale is an impressive rhythm section that is complete synergy. The drums pop through just right to lay down grooving rhythms that you can’t help tapping your foot and bobbing your head. The bass playing was a great blend of holding down the harmony at times, shadowing the guitar riff at others and noodling around. It was one of the high points for me. The bass jam on “Are You Awake” is quite tasty. The guitar riffs are bluesy-rock grown from their heavy metal roots.

But the somewhat surprise element for this album are the additional instruments. Troy brings in violin, cello, piano, and mandolin to the party. Typically a bluegrass arsenal of weapons, they are used well to emphasize the hard rock. “Under My Skin” is my favorite song on the album and has this shredding violin solo in the middle of the song that caught me by surprise. For more string action, “All I Wanted” and “Human State” both have cello and violin sections that are used more traditionally as a soothing musical element.

Lyrically, Bride is unabashedly Christian. I struggle with discerning lyrics on songs unless they’re in front of me. But lines like “We’re all going to die, its just a fact of life. We’re all gonna die, its just a matter of time” ring clearly and are great reminders to us to focus our lives.

The only weak part of the album is the guitar soloing efforts being under par for a band of Bride’s caliber. There is plenteous use of pentatonic scales which is typically a novice approach to getting a solo to sound good, but it lacks a musical statement other than filling in a gap. I get it that it is difficult to come up with a solo each and every song, but maybe not having a solo is a viable option.

All in all, “Are You Awake?” is a very solid album with great hard rock songwriting and some metal scenes throughout. Considering that Dale and Troy have been at this for 40 years and still so energetic shows how they are like a good wine getting better with age. Now, whether this is the last Bride album or not, only God knows.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – Ain’t No Loser
2 – I Want To Live Again
3 – We’re All Going To Die
4 – Hammer Down
5 – 12 O’Clock Apocalypse
6 – Under My Skin
7 – On With The Show
8 – Are You Awake
9 – Trippin’
10 – All I Wanted
11 – Human State
12 – Pull The Trigger

Bride is:
Dale Thompson – lead vocals
Troy Thompson – guitars, piano, violin, cello and mandolin
Greg Campbell – bass
Alexandre Aposan – drums

Release Date: June 2023

Record Label: Retroactive Records

Show No Mercy (1986)
Live to Die (1988)
Silence Is Madness (1989)
Kinetic Faith (1991)
Snakes in the Playground (1992)
Scarecrow Messiah (1994)
Drop (1995)
The Jesus Experience (1997)
Oddities (1998)
Fist Full of Bees (2001)
This Is It (2003)
Skin for Skin (2006)
Tsar Bomba (2009)
Incorruptible (2013) [review]
Snake Eyes (2018) [review]
Here Is Your God (2020) [review]
Bluegrass Gospel (2021)
Christmas (2021) [review]
Are You Awake? (2023)

Social Media: Facebook / Website

Video ‘Make Me Want To Live Again’

Video ’12 O’Clock Apocalypse’

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