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Although those of us who enjoy Christian hard rock/metal music currently have a large selection of artists from which to choose, that has not always been the case. Relative to the genre as a whole, this particular classification is still somewhat young. Some of the excellent pioneering bands made waves as far back as the late Seventies, but most stayed under the radar until the dawn of the new century. So, it stands to reason that there are several bands that never got the attention they deserved and thus languished until they inevitably disappeared.
This seems to be the story of the band Fear Not. Their self-titled album was released in 1993 but their hard rock sound could not survive in the massive music culture shift that was happening at that time and the band did not survive to record a sophomore album. Luckily, Roxx Records has decided to give the release new life with a remastered reissue 25th Anniversary edition of the debut album that includes 2 previously unreleased tracks and, for the first time ever, it will also be available on vinyl with a limited pressing of 500 copies.
Knowing from experience how many of the smaller albums sounded in that era, I must give huge credit to Rob Colwell (Bombworks Sound) for the beautiful sound on this reissue. The vocals are clear, the guitars are crisp and the bass thumps. The cover art for the album also has gotten a facelift. Scott Waters removed the hippie-ish flowers from the front and replaced it with sleek pinstripe artwork that better fits the style of the band.
I have to admit that the very first time I listened to this album, all I could think is that it is very much of the Eighties glam rock era. I listened to this type of music non-stop during that decade so I can unequivocally confirm that Fear Not is a stereotypical, formulaic Eighties hard rock album – except it was released in the Nineties. Now, for me, all of that is a plus, but it certainly took me by surprise as I did not expect the music to so completely fit into the previous era. Vocalist Larry Worley‘s vocal stylings seemed to be a combination of Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter) and Eric Martin (Mr. Big). Indeed, now that I write this, those bands seem to sum up Fear Not‘s sound.
Fear Not has so many catchy tunes. The album begins with a hard rocking bang with “Give It Up” providing fantastic guitar riffs and sing-a-long gang vocals. Other highlights include the anthemic “We Have A God”, “Mr. Compromise”, and “Mad World” – all of which are bathed in crunchy axe play. Considered to be their most recognized song, the mid-tempo “Suicide Sunshine” features infectious vocals and a terrific drum line. Back in the day, every album must possess a power ballad. Fear Not has a killer one that I feel could have been a huge hit if only it had been released a few years earlier. “Till The End of My Days” has the raw guitar sound guys enjoy along with the lyrical promises of love that cause the ladies to dream. The lyrics are ambiguous enough that those who are unaware of the meaning behind them could easily mistake this for a love song. The final track from the original release, “Take Hold”, is a beautiful acoustic tune that further cements their Mr. Big comparison in my mind.
Neither of the two new songs on this 25th Anniversary release actually feature the full Fear Not line-up. “You Got Love” showcases a killer guitar solo from JK Northrup who, in fact, provides all the instrumentation on this tune. The other bonus track, “Love Is Alright“, has a more modern, gritty sound. Both are good songs that do not necessarily fit with the original tracks but do not detract from them either.
Overall, Fear Not is a great reissue of an overlooked album that had the misfortune of being released in the wrong decade. I’m happy that Roxx Records has taken the time to do such an awesome remaster of this gem. It makes me look forward to what they might choose as their next project. As to the future of Fear Not, who knows what is next for them. Their Facebook page has teased a few new pictures as part of the promotion for this reissue without any explanation. If my description of an Eighties glam rock band with Skid Row leanings hasn’t scared you away, then I definitely think you should check this out. The songs transport you back to a time when hard rock ruled the world. Of course, the Christian message in the lyrics is a bonus as well. Although this album originally got lost in the shuffle, the magnificent remastering of this 25th Anniversary edition has given it new life. Don’t miss it this time around!