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All Together Separate
Artist: All Together Separate
Label: Ardent Records (distributed by ForeFront)
Length:13 tracks/48.57 minutes

Paradigm (sample)
So Hard I Try (sample)
Face To Face (sample)

The story is all too well known: The preacher's kid is often the worst sinner in the church. But, as Dex Alexander, ATS's dreadlocked lead singer as well as the preacher's kid in question here points out, "you will either passionately accept or violently reject this message." After running from God for several years, Dex passionately accepted Him, and his passion for God is nearly matched only by his--and the band's--passion for music.

The fruit of both of those passions is found in this, their label debut. Dex, Ben Rayls (drums), Andrew "Drew" Shirley (guitar), and Charles Rumahlewang (bass), make it  very clear: They are indeed a band with an agenda. What keeps coming through in the 13  tracks found here is the same straight-forward message: you--and I--need God.

While the music may be secondary to the message, this is by no means a bad album musically. It was once stated that the best message requires the best music, and that is an admonition that this group takes seriously. The band goes from the purest shades of radio-ready modern rock ("On and On") to a hybrid blues/rock track ("The Truth About God").

By far, my favorite track on the disc is "Paradigm." This is one of about three tracks on the new album taken from ATS's independent release from last year. The track starts off softly, masquerading as a ballad, but midway through the third verse something seems to tear loose, and the final choruses have an urgency to them that has rarely been heard in most of Christian music. When Dex sings "I give my life to You so I may gain it back again," it seems the most natural thing in the world to make his cry your own.

The "enhanced" portion of the CD seems a bit skimpy: five interview segments and hyperlinks to All Together Separate's and Ardent Records' web sites, where I had hoped for maybe the "Paradigm" video. Also, the disc didn't quite capture the intensity that ATS presents live, but what disc other than the rare live gem does?  Those minor glitches aside, I definitely recommend this disc.

Josh Marihugh 11/17/99


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