I put my love for Petra in the grave after I came to college. My religious beliefs shifted, and the winds of music fortune turned the eighties into the nineties. A string of simply wretched Petra albums joined forces with these vicissitudes and soured me nearly overnight. Apart from Double Take, an album covering 12 of their classic tunes with their own new interpretations, no album has drawn more than a passing interest since the awful Unseen Power. Let there be no gray: Petra was dead to me.
So why did a CD emblazened with crimson marketing hype exclaiming, “PETRA RETURNS!” raise my interest? Call it nostalgia. It was perhaps this line that gave me hope: “Producer Peter Furler has captured Petra the way their fans have been screaming for.…” My cynicism firmly pouted, “It’s just marketing; it’s only hype. They are still dead.” But my inner child whispered, “But what if it’s true?What if it’s like ‘Judas’ Kiss’ and ‘Blinded Eyes,’ like ‘Angel of Light’ and ‘Killing My Old Man’? What if they realized that ‘Dead Reckoning,’ ‘Rose-colored Stained-glass Windows,’ ‘Adonai,’ and ‘Another Crossroad’ really sounded good?” What if it was true? I listened to the CD in the listening post with that faint glimmer of hope. I was looking for proof of life.
Without equivocation Jekyll & Hyde does not disappoint — I write this as someone who has all but sworn off the CCM genre entirely as derivative drivel. It’s old Petra, resurrected in a new form. Dead are John Lawry’s signature Lync LN4 and John Slick’s Moog stylings: This CD lives and breathes guitar, drum, guitar, bass, guitar, and amplified voice. Did I mention guitar? Bob Hartman returns and the production is heavily overdubbed to create a dense, lush metal feel. To ease the transition, the opening track uses chimes in the trap set. Very subtle, and used to excellent effect.
It only gets better. The second track mixes Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden allusions to create a melodic foundation throughout the song. In fact, I would have to say that melody is the operative word throughout the album. The melodic genius behind “Judas Kiss” and “Blinded Eyes” rises like a rock-and-roll phoenix, bringing the melodic back to Petra’s trademark sound. The heavy-handed sound of power-chord after agonizingly boring power chord are absent, bless God! The Newsboys’ Peter Furler, producer and session drummer, skillfully brings Petra’s dormant talent and technical proficiency back to life and back to the foreground.
If it sounds like I cannot say enough about the resurrection of Petra, it’s because I can’t. I bought the CD after listening to only two and a half tracks. I was that confident; subsequent listenings have only served to keep confirming this.
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