Lost Persons Area

Glass Darkly

Rocking metal praise album of intelligence and power, sadly with some predictable lyrics but redeemed by some majorly pre-amped licks.

This band is based in Bermondsey, London, has been working hard since forming very early in 2000 and has a wide-ranging variety of attitudes to sartorial and hirsute elegance.

This isn’t one for falling asleep to after Sunday lunch, but huge anthems for youth praise events and screaming with while alone in the car, perhaps on the motorway. The CD comes in a nicely-presented package with shots of the band members (two with instruments, one looking alarmingly like Keith Green at his worst) and a keeps-you-guessing attitude to lyrics – you know they’re nearly right but then they catch you out again. There’s an humble dedication to Jesus, hoping ‘this album will make you smile’. I could see our Lord headbanging, his long divine locks flopping about over the throne of heaven as angels dance and frolic with abandon. Don’t forget, God gave rock & roll to you, as it says in the Good Book somewhere (probably).

Didn’t quite get the house-on-stilts picture, or the album’s title. This seems primarily one for the Insiders. But I may be wrong on that.

In depth, track-by-track analysis/comment/wonderings:

Jesus, Jesus
(good title) is a 300mph blister-rocker with a lip-thrashing vocal; it’s got more energy than Llanwern Blast furnace ever had. There’s a slight danger that someone enthusiastic might try this as a congregational song, slowing it to allow for the less vocally-adept and thus robbing it of the mad, abandoned, daft-for-God message it conveys. It’s Jesus Freak by DC Talk without the gentleness!

Shake Me
owes more than a little (sorry to mention it so early on, boys) to Hanson’s Mmm-bop at the start, and then turns into a tumbling collection of chords and cultured bass-playing. Great lyric well delivered and with considerable passion. Seems to ramble a bit, covering a request to be shaken, a rock that is higher than I, kisses, tears, running with eyes closed and the good Samaritan. But for once I don’t care. The guts and heart make up for any poetic shortcomings.

You First
Fantastic lyric, great set of changes, with great 60’s style bass playing and powerchords. Suddenly seems to lose it’s way and come to a premature end, but never mind, thanks to modern technology I can press the right button and hear it all again. And it’s so good, you want to do that three times at least. This is a song that makes you praise God for the glory of salvation; even though it’s David’s testimony, there’s a resonance that my heart picks up and with which it wants to run.

Keeper of Me
This prose poem (certainly among the best-composed on the disc) is thought-provoking: ‘Your blood cleanses me deeper/Than a thousand sorrys I say.’ And it has a fascinating groove. The worshipful atmosphere and grandeur of the way the song develops work for me. This band isn’t just tempo and power chords; they can ballad a bit too.

King of all Kings
Probably the single or at least the most congregation-friendly song here; I shudder to imagine what a church meeting might do to some of the subtle timing in the delivery of these bog-standard praise song lyrics. Little effort put into rhyming or fresh phrases; it’s catchy and bouncing and would count as a great spontaneous outpouring of devotion – know what I mean? High production values here, with extra bits of beevee and percussion.

More than a song
is exactly that; it’s a loud shout of glory, with a strong hook and great singing. Thin Lizzy fronted by Paul Kossof (Free) with Keef Richard guesting on lead. Oh yes, I like this a lot. Imagine if worship songs got remade just like movies; this is Redman’s Heart of Worship, where he apologises for merely singing in appropriately melancholy tones, remade by a brash young director, achieving something joyful and reverently exuberant. Or maybe that’s too difficult to imagine… And it has a classic metal ending, which is always a good thing.

I Can Hear
I can hear a curiously thundering bass and not a lot else, sadly. But the mandolin-style guitar twiddling is pleasant. Lyrics here are slightly corny with some rhymes less well-crafted than in other places. But it’s a U2-alike track which is worth several listens. My respect for the vocalist grows.

Need to see you
is a tuneful but strangely disappointing song. Theological weakness spoils an otherwise thoughtful lyric: ‘To taste the sweetness of your mercy I would drown my sins in blood’. The mercy of God is available because your sins have been washed away by Christ’s blood, friend. I know you know, but adding confusion to the truth is a not helpful way to express yourself. Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) on vox is usually not as good as this, but it’s a strange decision to try. Great middle eight, but not great enough to bring the grade-point average up to standard. The solo at the end of the track exposes a fantastic snare sound. Okay so, what have we got? Interesting singing, good playing, well-constructed middle eight, high production values, and yet still the song doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe I’m being too critical. H’mm. But then the first four tracks really delivered, so it’s fair to expect more than this achieves. Close; cigar, even, but no-one’s setting fire to it.

Light of Day
Paul Nicholas-style harmonic features on this, a jangly, grooving song. How many albums do you have where the musicians can gleefully write on the credits: Gob-Iron solo by our Vicar? A fragile acoustic guitar solo breaks across the power chords, and the beevees make a positive and enjoyable contribution.

Indeed. No, that’s too dismissive. But this is sub-Squeeze, with lyrics once again letting it down, using the concept of being ‘poor’ in two, conflicting ways. Another near miss, almost redeemed by the brief but sparking solo break and the excellent surprise ending.

Perfect Love
Oh no, a keyboard! Great chorus, dodgy first verse. How come someone hasn’t just suggested a few edits to line the songs up with scripture? I blame the Vicar… Jesus isn’t clothed with righteousness; we are! I don’t understand why Christ’s purity and possible clothing should elicit adoration - they could perhaps be reasons for honour or respect; but it’s not really explained. ‘That’s why I adore you my Lord.’ Perhaps there’s just a slight case of non sequitor cliché-fest… And ‘I can’t deny you of my praise’ is one of those phrases which expresses something, but doesn’t actually mean anything. Since we’re in the communicating truth business, shouldn’t we try a little harder to not only put over an emotion but also to declare Bible truth in ways which respect God and the English language? Or am I a sad old wrinkly with too much respect for grammar? Not my fave song on the album, by quite a long way!

King of the World
A grand anthem, full of soul-wracked angst and deep unworthiness, which recognises both the greatness and the majesty of God. But with a gloriously redeeming (in every sense of the word) showcase Freebird (all hail the mighty, mighty Lynyrd Skynyrd) section towards the end!

starts with an homage to Extreme’s fantastic More than Words hit, but with strangely over-recorded E and A strings on the acoustic, which make it boomy and unbalanced, in my view. It reminded me of Charlie the held-together-with-araldite-and-chewing-gum -but-nonetheless-falling-apart-complete-with-buzzes-and-thuds double bass we had in the acoustic folk band with which I sang during the far-away seventies. Nice tune, well-sung. But it’s a shame to end an album which promised so much at the start with three of your weaker tracks. I like the ‘despite all my needs I’ll go down on my knees’ focus on God, rather than ‘on my needs’ or on ‘how blessed God must be to have me in his family’ style of worship song, which this isn’t. But a weakish finish, with a ‘let’s stop now’ rallentando in the last chorus and a cut-off-too-soon final ringing chord…

The final paragraphs
Apparently band members come and go, and on account of this it’s frustrating that the writing credits are simply noted as ‘all songs written by Glass Darkly’. Who’s really doing the good work? But this album is well worth the £10.99 just for the first few tracks, and you never know, you might like the ones at the end, described by the man who provides a ‘ridiculous level of support’ as ‘great worship ballads’. I suppose I’m saddened that such a promising start isn’t fully sustained.

Don’t stop now! More power to your rockin’ elbows, whenever you find a new drummer. Watch the beautiful glassdarkly.co.uk for news of gigs etc