Whitecross – “Fear No Evil”


This album brings the first new music from the Christian rock legends this millenium and it’s a surprisingly fun release. Sometimes I’m a little weary of all of the reactivated bands coming back, which yield a wide range of quality, but after listening through once, I was happy to hear a solid and varied album showing that Whitecross still have the goods after all of these years.

Formed in 1985 outside of Chicago by singer Scott Wenzel and guitarist Rex Carroll, Whitecross has been on the front lines of the Christian rock and metal scene since the early days, winning three Dove awards in the early 1990s. Around 1993, Rex departed to start the band King James and in 1998, Whitecross went on hiatus when Scott went to South America for mission work. In 2000, the band reformed with Scott, Rex, and newcomers Michael Feighan on drums and Benny Ramos on bass. To ease back into playing together as a band they went into the studio to re-record much of their debut album “Whitecross” under the title “Nineteen Eighty Seven,” in honor of the year of their debut.

Since the release in 2005, the band stagnated, playing a few shows here and there. In 2018, the band got an opportunity to play a couple of shows in India. Scott could not go and in essence left the band, so they pulled in Peter Stenlund (Laudamus) to handle the vocals for these shows. Around 2020, they found a full time vocalist in Dave Roberts, who also plays the part of Robert Plant in a Led Zeppelin tribute band. They got back to writing new music which has led to “Fear No Evil,” the first original music from the band since 1996.

The album is a quite polished rock journey from start to finish. Dave’s addition to the band has brought over Zeppelin influences to their sound, most notably in vocal delivery. The album is a continuous walk like the classic rock albums of the yesteryear due to the variety of songs ranging from high energy rockers to acoustic tracks.

The album gets started out right with “The Way We Rock” which has a fast tempo and engaging rhythm guitar work. Rex has been in the upper strata of guitar players for years and he doesn’t show any slowing on this track. Dave’s vocals border on a Brian Johnson feel with some Robert Plant making the entire track remind me of AC/DC with more pep. “Lion of Judah” keeps that high energy with some prime examples of Rex’s shredding to start the track.

Then comes “Jackhammer” which is basically a guitar solo without a song. It feels a little weird as I don’t get any musical grounding besides a raw guitar etude. If anyone thinks that guitar solos make the song, I think that “Jackhammer” proves the opposite. You need the band for the solo to shine in my opinion. This then leads into “Man in the Mirror” which is a hard rock song fitting right into their wheelhouse, leaving “Jackhammer” in the dust.

The next stop is “Blind Man,” which has the same vibe as “Battle of Evermore” by Zeppelin. Here Dave’s work as Robert Plant comes into his own with crooning that sounds exactly like the Zeppelin frontman. The folksy acoustic work is very soothing. This dovetails well with “Fear No Evil” which starts with acoustic guitar and Dave singing. Then the power chords come through and the drums thunder into a slower doom-inspired rock tune. The lyrics draw from Psalm 23 where the darker heavy guitars help illustrate the shadow of death.

The next three tracks are solid hard rock songs. “29,000” has a cool grooving feel and a catchy hook in the chorus. I liked Rex’s more melodic solo on this one. “Saints of Hollywood” starts out with a hard rock riff in the verse that builds into the chorus that disperses into a rather cool softer, latin-tinged atmosphere. “Vendetta” switches it up with a more sparse supporting verse building into a heavier chorus. I really enjoy the rhythm work that Rex puts forth on this song and showcases how solid the rhythm section is.

The next track, “Wishing Well,” is an emotional ballad that builds slowly to a steady pace. Musically, it is darn good. The vocal melody is not overly sappy and fits well with the music and the songwriting doesn’t lead to a gargantuan weight beyond what a ballad should be. Not only that, Rex’s outro solo fits sweetly in the mix, not resorting to technical pyrotechnics. The final track is an acoustic song that tucks the album in to sleep. Dave’s voice is quite smooth and the lyrics feel much like a lullaby, ending with a blanket on top.

This being Dave’s first recording with the band, he does a phenomenal job and brings a great classic rock influence to the mix. The band is super solid, where I enjoyed the rhythm work setting the mood and style perfectly. Although I might be in the minority, I do like wide-ranging albums that explore various styles and these guys deliver, stitching tracks together in a quite appreciable pattern.

However, I wasn’t a fan of Rex’s technical solo work. I felt that more melodic phrasing within the lead positions would have escalated many of the songs rather than keeping them chained to the techniques of the 80s.

Whitecross has delivered a quite surprisingly good album that I am sure will delight fans of the band. If you have an appetite for classic rock/metal from the 80s, you should definitely check this one out. The band has aged gracefully and I am excited to see where they go from here.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – The Way We Rock
2 – Lion of Judah
3 – Jackhammer
4 – Man in the Mirror
5 – Blind Man
6 – Fear No Evil
7 – 29,000
8 – Saints of Hollywood
9 – Vendetta
10 – Wishing Well
11 – Further On

Whitecross is:
Dave Roberts – vocals
Rex Carroll – guitars
Benny Ramos – bass
Michael Feighan – drums

Release Date: March 22, 2024

Record Label: Dark Star Records

Whitecross (1987)
Love on the Line (EP) (1988)
Hammer & Nail (1988)
Triumphant Return (1989)
In the Kingdom (1991)
High Gear (1992)
Unveiled (1994)
Equilibrium (1995)
Flytrap (1996)
Nineteen Eighty Seven (2005)
Fear No Evil (2024)

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Video for Man In The Mirror

Video for ‘Fear No Evil’

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