The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Wedding Party
Label: MCM Music
Length: 12 tracks/47:28 minutes

With pounding tribal drums, Wedding Party announces their presence, providing a welcome addition to the scantly populated genre known as "Christian Goth." Programming by Nathan Van Hala and production and some backing vocals by Eric Clayton, both from the highly respected goth band Saviour Machine, make this is a debut not to be dismissed lightly.

The music of Wedding Party can best be described as Goth, with the melancholy atmosphere and dramatic/opratic vocals fufilling the goth part, though there are strong industrial/rock/pop influences evident throughout the album. Vocal responsibilities are shared by William J. Watters and Sheri Luckey Watters, which adds a level of depth through their alternating between duets and solos.  The album varies from traditional climatic goth songs to driving rockers to an acoustic-based ballad.  The best examples of the aforementioned rockers are probably "Raven's Warning," with it's strong pulsating electronics, taunt vocals, driving guitars and spiritually militant lyrics; and "To The Unknown God," with it's gang-shouted backing vocals, steady guitar, terse vocals, and thunder-like drums. The album also features some  excellent guitar riffs, notably on the song "Even You."

"Crystal River," an emotionally charged song written about the death of William J. Watters's brother, provides a good showcase of his vocal range. His vocals tend to be a little lacking in solid "goth" range on some songs, but experience and maturity should iron out this problem.  Sheri Luckey Watter's vocals are solid: unnervingly delicate on songs like "Lamb," and powerfully dynamic on others like "Omega."

The songs all have a solid Christian message and the liner notes have Scripture references listed with most of the lyrics.  Songs like "Raven's Warning" provide a sense of spiritual warfare, a recurrent theme throughout the album:

In recent interviews, the band has acknowledged working on their next album, with an intent to write more hard edged songs like "To the Unknown God" and "Raven's Warning," an excellent direction for the band to head in. With good production by Eric Clayton, solid songs, intriguing and interesting lyrics, and tight musicianship, Wedding Party's "Anthems" is a must check out for any goth/industrial fan.  Time and maturity should help shape this band into a powerful influence in the christian industrial/goth genre.

Joe Rockstroh (4/25/99)