The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Bride
Label: Organic Records
Length: 13 tracks/ 56:12 minutes

Right up front on Oddities, an emcee declares, "Under the big top - it's Bride!" This latest release from the hard-music heroes Bride continues on the path laid by such records as Drop and Scarecrow Messiah, with just a squirt of Live to Die on top. But on Oddities, which was produced by Dino and John Elefante, Bride's speed metal history rears its head just a few times, mostly from Dale Thomson's microphone.

The name Oddities threw me when I first heard it. I thought it was another of the latest popular craze, a collection of B sides and rarities, but it is not. It's all new material - well crafted new material! Oddities, the name, speaks of Christians being odd men out, in that we are a peculiar people, people who do not follow the world's philosophies and trends. That makes us Christians oddities.

This record may take a few listens to catch up to, but the music on Oddities is superb. Bride is still at the front of the pack of other rock bands. Dale has an exemplary rock and roll voice, and, wow, can he use it! He has a set of lungs and a scream like no one else these days. On Oddities, he uses that scream sparingly, and thus wisely. He sings with passion at the right moments, and with tenderness when the music is tender. The diversity of music on this record calls for Dale to stretch in both directions as he sings with conviction on so many topics.

Although Dale has never compromised his strong words, now, more than ever, the focus seems to be on the lyrics. Some of the song titles are "I Found God," "Spirit," "God's Human Oddities," "Under the Blood," and "Restore Me." These new songs are well written, even deeply written, with scripture references recognizably seeded throughout.

Troy Thomson's guitar work is also diverse. Heavy and down tuned, then alternative and flowing. New bassist Andy Wilkinson, with drummer Jerry McBroom, keep a driving low end pace under the brothers Thomson's masterful rock sensibilities. Troy's music is always moving and beautifully played.

Don't feel odd about buying another Bride record. They keep beating the odds and putting out worthy music. Odd, isn't it? This band of God's oddities has made a deep and strong album. In that sense, Bride's Oddities is not odd at all, oddly enough.

By Tony LaFianza (12/6/98)