The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Raze
Label: Forefront (US) / Alliance (UK)

Protegees of the World Wide Message Tribe, Raze's emphasis on evangelism is immediately obvious from the prayer of confession and commitment included in their debut album's case. The band's links to Manchester's
evangelists doesn't end there, as Mark Pennells and Zarc Porter, both familiar names from the tribe's album sleeves, appear as co-writers on a number of tracks. Porter has contributed much of the programming,
alongside producer Tedd T, and it bears his hallmark--strong, smooth synthesizers and a strong Euro-influence.

Raze would fit neatly among many of the pop-dance acts that are currently dominating the UK charts thanks to their appeal to pre- and young teens, but are considerably more wholesome for that age group than the usual
casually veiled innuendos and self-praise which abound in that genre. The production value is certainly on a par with any of those acts, but like them the album also suffers from the fact that it's all been done before just as well.

Raze have developed a lot over the past few years, and this is an album that will not embarass them. They have managed to bypass many of the cliches that drag down the majority of openly evangelistic acts, and will appear to fans of their chosen genre. For those who have no desire to hear yet another pop-dance act, however, Raze don't have anything new to offer.

James Stewart 9/17/99