Gospel Cola

Atomic Opera

Metal Blade Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I don't much care for Christian music. I've always found it to be far too "Jesus-Freak" preachy for my tastes, and I don't like being hit over the head with such messages constantly while listening to an album.

That said, I like Atomic Opera... to a point. I like the fact that they're not afraid to sing a song that doesn't mention God every fifth word or so, and that they're able to see through the commercialistic side that some people have put on religion these days. I especially like the backhand they take at the overpriced "WWJD" (What Would Jesus Do) hats in the liner notes of their album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Gospel Cola.

That's the kind of refreshing thinking that happens in the world of Atomic Opera. Yes, they occasionally lean too much for my tastes into the religious sphere ("Jesus Junk" - which could also be seen as a backhand against religious commercialism), and occasionally their music seems like it needs a little more of a rhythmic spine ("Maledicition," "WinterLand"). But for the most part, this is an album that almost anyone can pick up and find something to like about it.

Vocalist/guitarist Frank Hart and crew are not truly a metal band in the purest sense of the word, even though they're on one of America's best-known metal labels and they surely know how to crank up the distortion from time to time. Instead, Gospel Cola seems to try to draw in people from all different musical genres to get their messages across without sounding as dry as a typical Sunday sermon.

And more often than not, it works. Tracks lie "The Circle Is Closed," "Muse," "Stop My Heart" and "Doxology" all have different meanings that listeners can take away from them - and I think, in the end, that was the goal of Atomic Opera. You don't have to walk away from these songs with a religious message or a different view of God... though it's okay if that happens as well.

The only drawback I saw in Gospel Cola was that it took me about a third of the way through the disc to start to get into it. Maybe that was because I approached it with a bias against Christian rock... or maybe it took the band that much time to musically build up a head of steam. Whatever the case, once things got going, Atomic Opera was on a roll.

Like I said before, I don't much like Christian rock. Atomic Opera and Gospel Cola could well change that for me... and for you as well.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 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 Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.