Medicine For The Soul


Independent release, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Anytime I invite unsigned bands to send me their material for review here on "The Daily Vault," I recognize that I could be opening up a Pandora's box. Obviously, the band wants me to be honest about what I think of their work, and I find it very hard to be critical of a band that is up and coming.

In the case of RainLord, a hard-rock outfit from Florida, I sincerely hope they take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt, and realize that I'm saying what I am to help them improve, not to be a Grade-A jerk. 'Cause after listening to their debut release Medicine For The Soul, one can hear that this band needs a lot of work.

Embodying a lot of what went wrong with the hard rock/heavy metal scene in the early '90s, RainLord sounds like a cross between Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. Led by singer John Nickoloff, RainLord changes styles far too often, going from cock-rock ("One Night Stand") to bombastic, half-ass blues ("Mustang Sally") to harmonized hard rock that works well for them ("Stronghold"). Five words: Pick a card, any card.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The two-guitar attack of Reg Monsanto and Jeff Deeter (who is no longer with the band as of the last mailing I got) is much more powerful when they don't diddle with their effects pedals. Their acoustic-sounding work is the best, especially on "Call Down The Rain Lord," but when they turn their guitars up to full shred on songs like these, they blow the whole mood. And while the full-shred sound works on songs like "Black Widow," they fail to really develop a catchy riff in the body of the song.

Tuning is also a problem on occasion. On at least one occasion, the guitar solo I heard sounded like the axe was tuned too high; it didn't blend with the song. If only it were the guitar that occasionally went out of pitch; Nickoloff's vocals also cross the border on occasion. (One of the harmony lines in "Mustang Sally" also didn't fit the chord progression - and it's quite obvious.)

The production work also leaves a lot to be desired - for one thing, kill the reverb, and make Ralph Abraham's drums sound a lot crisper. (While we're at it, stop burying Matt Minick's bass in the mix as well.) Had the production quality of Medicine For The Soul been better, I think I would have enjoyed the album a little more.

And it's not that Medicine For The Soul is a complete washout. "I Haven't Lost My Faith" is a beautiful song, and the more gentle moments of "Call Down The Rain Lord" show that this band has the ability to be good. When they harmonize, like they did on "Stronghold," RainLord rises above their own mediocrity and creates something good. If only they had done this more often.

RainLord is presently working on their follow-up album. My suggestions: Hire a real producer to bring out your sound, don't be afraid to turn down (or even off) the distortion pedals, don't try to sound like Joe Satriani in your guitar solos when the song doesn't call for it, and try to concentrate on one particular style.

Yes, RainLord is a rather big draw down in Florida, and have built up a solid fanbase there. But if they want to cross over from local favorites to nationwide recognition, they need to tighten up the band a bit and work on their songwriting. Medicine For The Soul offers very little evidence of this - were they an older metal band from the '80s, I would have said they were on life support.

For more information on RainLord, visit their Web site.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.