Forget grunge, forget nu-metal, forget boy bands… this is nostalgic 80's hair metal like your mother used to make! From the very first track of Main to Mitchell by Kendallville Christian metal band Forgiven, I was transported back to the 1980s, a day when hair bands like Stryper and Barren Cross at least got radio play. Through thirteen tracks (one of which is "hidden") and nearly an hour of music Forgiven holds true to the genre by making no bones about their Christian beliefs, wrapping them in the lyrical cliché's indicative of the era.
The album kicks off with a whispy keyboard pad overlaid with solo guitar that becomes a crunchy guitar riff in "Wholly". The first thing you notice is the strong, clean voice of Ryan Ransburg which seems tailor made for melodic metal, plus it sounds nothing like Mr. Creed. "Because of You" has some nice, buzzing guitar and a cool bass line that just barely exists on the audible spectrum, plus a shakeup in the bridge and a good old-fashioned non-apologetic guitar solo. "Broken" is the obligatory power ballad with light guitars sprouting nice southern guitar licks. In a nice change of pace, "Bridge To Nowhere/ God's Temple" has an almost calypso yet captivating guitar riff, compliments of guitarist Nate Mosley, and an intriguing chord progression before the drums enter, the guitars distort, and the song becomes more urgent, showcasing the energy of this ensemble. A thin organ adds a new flavor to the mix in "Satisfied" where Ransburg sings "I remember looking high and low / For the answer to this life / But I came up empty every time" to a jangly guitar riff. Although not quite up front, you can actually hear the bassist Tim Bolen on "Good News", whereas on the rest of the album it's unfortunately buried below muddy guitars. The final track, "At The Door", opens with an extended passage of clean, intricate guitar work designed to make other guitarists drool. Keyboards and drums enter along with vocals in a slow song of Christ knocking at the door to your heart, only to have the tempo kicked way up at the end to conclude the album in a rollicking good tune that sounds like it would be great fun to hear live and even more fun to play!
The songwriting on this effort is true to the genre and holds no surprises. However, because of the excessive reverb used on everything from the vocals to the drums to the guitars, it is difficult to hear clearly and both the sonic low and high ends are minimal. I'm sure drummer Jeff Creek and the bassist played their hearts out for this release but unfortunately they are often little more than murky pulses in the mix. Good songs marred by bad production… it's a classic tale of woe. For more information on this album go to www.forgiven.biz.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, September 2002.