REVIEWS . . .
Read the Review – Christian Music Content Award
Ransom – “Dead No More”
Ransom is very simply one of the most promising classic rock bands on the Christian Music scene today. This 5-man band out of Washington, DC combines Queen-like instrumentation with a solid and unique lead vocalist and sage lyrics. Dead No More is their debut album, but listens more like a tempered and polished experience. The CD opens with Soliloquy, a fast-jammin’ rock and roll song whose chorus will have you singing along on the first listen. Gavin Stephenson shows from the first song that he has a real gift for the hook. Soliloquy will have you so wrapped up in the chorus that you might miss the depth of his lyrics. Listen again, they are worth hearing. Whoami has a great feeling lead vocal and some pretty nifty guitar playing throughout. Again the chrous is above normal expectations and the instrumentation production shows keen attention to detail on this track and throughout the CD. There is a middle eight made up with a Van Halen “Jump” sounding keyboard instrumental leading into a GREAT lead guitar part. This is as good as it gets arrangement wise! Hideaway is one of those songs that sticks in your head. Don’t listen to this just before something you need to concentrate on *s*. You’re certain to find yourself mimicking the chorus over and over again. The musicianship is again across-the-board wonderful, but the guitar parts really shine, especially here on Hideaway. Excellent guitar parts complement a fantastic vocal (which reminds me of Oden Fong turned up a notch), and the down-and-dirty backups give this song the push to rock from pop. The hook here is musically brilliant and very well executed. Ransom goes in a little different direction with the alternative, almost industrial at times, Vegetables. The guitar licks are excellent and there must be some kind of lyrical hidden meaning behind this track (I think). You’ll be scratching your head in need of a reality check during this track. You may find yourself yearning for more of a meat and potato diet (a la the first three tracks). Just Like Me is one of the mellowest songs on the CD, and has a nice contemporary touch with its soulful lyrics and easygoing lead. Its U-2 feel comes to an abrupt transition about 3 1/2 minutes into the song, when Ricky Ricardo provides a guest rasta vocal :-). It’s whimsical and it works! This is a multi-faceted band, able to move easily from one end of the rock spectrum to another. They all come together in I Believe, an incredible song that alternates from little more than an excellent vocal to a full and busy band. Craig MacCubbin’s piano is a masterpiece in the background – listen closely. I Believe comes across as the best of each of the performers. Richard Czypinski’s vocal is flawless, John Lapham’s percussion is felt rather than heard, and the bass (Eric Shramek) has some pretty original rhythm patterns going. The song closes with great guitar by Gavin Stephenson (who is a gifted songwriter). A superlative cut that will appeal to everyone, simply for its genius. Come To Me has the best background vocals on the CD and give an interesting mirrored feel to this superb track. The change from hard rock to an almost gentleness and back again is very well done. This is a powerful song in word and in music, an encouragement to every Christian in a time of despair or weakness. Time is a good ‘concept’ song with a beach beat that has classic guitar work and a chorus that will appeal to everyone! This song should get air play if a DJ gets this far into the album. Dead No More has those fantastic guitar licks going again. Finding catchy counter melodies within an already melody strong song is not an easy task. Ransom finishes this CD with a lyrical masterpiece…..”Take this pain away from me, I pray, then show my heart and soul what’s worth living for, to be dead no more.” Additionally, you’ll like the Iron Butterfly-like keyboards near the end of this track. Ransom has everything needed to reach the next plateau. They took their time with the production and arrangement of this album and gave the Lord what He deserves, their absolute best. I have heard few debut indie albums as good as this one. Dead No More has the potential to reach countless listeners, and certainly His message has no boundries, thanks in part to bands like Ransom.
Compilation CD Included July/August Issue
Modern rock is a tough, competitive field to be in. Here’s a quintet that adds many of the right ingredients to succeed — competent playing, nice vocals, and decent songs. Not much stuff is heavy here, but the band does lay down some rock (“Soliloquy” and “Vegetables” are two examples) occasionally. They compete with such bands as Jars of Clay, Creed, and Collective Soul, often laying on the softer side.