"Gospel Cola" (Metal Blade Records; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If you were to hear anything from Atomic Opera's "Gospel Cola" on the radio, you'd never guess that when this CD was released they were signed to Metal Blade Records. True, the band bears a passing resemblance to at-the-time Metal Blade labelmates King's X but their groove-laden, smooth near-jazz sound never comes even close to the heavy metal thunder one would expect from the Metal Blade imprint.

The music isn't bad here, but it never rocks really hard, nor is it intended to. It's a lot closer to Tom Petty than, say, Rob Zombie. And, unlike modern Christian bands, Atomic Opera's lyrics make the band's religious beliefs very clear. Still, if there's any question, the band's creed - printed within the CD booklet - eliminate any doubt. I won't say they ever get preachy but, as you listen, you're aware this is a Born Again rock'n'roll band. Again, nothing wrong with that - but I do find it distracting, much like when a devil metal band sings over and over and on and on about Satan.

"Gospel Cola" is a CD that's probably worth some respect, but that doesn't change the fact that it's just a little dull.

Atomic Opera: Frank Hart - vocal, guitar, cello; Kemper Crabb - vocal, mandolin, dulcimer, recorder, bozouki, harmonica, ocarina; Ryan Birsinger - bass, stick, vocal; John Simmons - drumset, percussion, vocal. Also appearing are Byron Roy - Hammond organ, Rhodes; Andy Bowen - pipe organ.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.