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Kneeling Between Shields EP
Artist: Grammatrain
5 songs / 21:33

As part of their ten year reunion, Grammatrain is working on NEW  MUSIC.  As of this writing, the band has not yet released any for  sale on-line.  However, at their only North American reunion show in  Seattle, Kneeling Between Shields was for sale to the fans in  attendance.  Having new music from one of Christian rock's most  beloved nineties bands is great on its own.  It certainly helps that  the first new music from Grammatrain in a decade is utterly,  absolutely fantastic.

Best described as a modern update to Gammatrain's original grunge/ hard rock sound, Kneeling Between Shields is relevant without being trendy, classic without being dated.  It was evident on Lonely House and Flying that the boys in Grammatrain were not merely a "me-too" grunge act, but great musicians in their own right.  They've  only gotten better over the past ten years.  Pete Stewart is not a shred guitar player but his melodic solos are memorable and intense,  and his riffs excellent.  Dalton Rorabeck is a -real- bass player,  providing technically skilled rhythm while being locked in with brother Paul's excellent, Rush-inspired drumming.  Over the instrumental backdrop are Stewart's earnest, powerful vocals, clear and strong.The first track, "Damaged," sets the tone immediately with a bone-crunching riff that will have your head banging.  Every section of "Damaged" kills, the build-up of the pre-chorus, the driving chorus, Pete Stewart's vocals, the ending solo... hard rock just doesn't get any better than this.   "Forever" is yearning with lost love, bleeding emotion from every pore; "All" rocks out with a swagger before the searing chorus kicks in. "Enemy" is perhaps the weakest of the four rock tracks, but that's hardly fair - the other tracks are SO good that "Enemy" has a lot to live up to.  Nonetheless, it's a strong rocker with a blistering chorus and roaring ending.  The fifth track is an acoustic version of "Damaged,"  laden with atmospheric sounds, watery vocals.  Not merely the opening track with acoustics, this version is an interpretation with its own unique merits.

Thematically, Grammatrain's largely Christian fanbase need not worry about Stewart's journey out of the faith resulting in music they may have objections listening to.  "Damaged" deals with addiction; "Forever" and "Enemy" lost loves.  A friend of mine suggested that Grammatrain mirrors King's X, where despite spiritual differences between members the band continues.  The lyrics are not altogether vague, but I have no doubt that individual listeners will interpret them differently.  I have a sneaking suspicion that is how the band wants it.  Personally I can't imagine that the band would, collectively, put forth lyrics that all members weren't comfortable with, but that is all I will say on the matter - this is a music review, not a theological treatise.  Removed from discussions of faith, the lyrics are well-written, personal, emotional without being whiny or emo, and poetic.  And you can't go wrong when Pete Stewart is belting them out with that amazing voice!

If I wasn't already looking forward to the new full-length album Grammatrain is promising for later in 2009, Kneeling Between Shields raises my anticipation to a fever pitch.  Kneeling Between Shields is for grammatrain fans, rock fans, and people who like good music ought to hear it.  In today's glut of emo, screamo, sorta metal, and buttrock bands, grammatrain is something I miss dearly and wish to hear more of:  quality, creative hard ROCK played with integrity and skill. And did I mention... it's NEW GRAMMATRAIN!

Ryan Ro

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