Junkyard Prophet – The Price
Junkyard Records (7/24/07)
It’s more about the message… than the music.
At least that’s what Junkyard Prophet’s official biography would have you believe. This Christian rap-metal trio has been recording and touring for over a decade, and the band seems to have crafted quite the career after being named best unsigned band next to P.O.D. (This was back when the group was known as Reign of Kings, and there’s no clear mention of who or what bestowed this honor upon them.)
Well, I’m sure everyone knows how that turned out for P.O.D. As for Junkyard Prophet, the band “turned down” several “major label offers” since the “mainstream music machine might ask them to water down their message” and chose the “kids over the label” because, as drummer Bradley Dean put it, “if we had chosen the label, we know that it wouldn’t have been about the kids.”
Well, you can hardly fault a band for not only having morals, but sticking to them to that degree. And I’m sure the group does great work with its youth ministries, but this isn’t a band feature, it’s a music review. And, sadly, the music just isn’t cutting it.
The band lays down a perfectly adequate rock/metal backbone to the tracks, but the vocals just sound too raw. Shifting in cadence from a Busta Rhymes to Eminem influenced flow, the delivery is there, but it’s either too scratchy, a little too off beat, or too jumbled to present a clear package. The best example of this is on the track “One Heart”, presented in two versionsâ€”with and without the rap. On face value, the song is a balladâ€”a man and woman singing about sharing their lives forever. It’s a serviceable wedding song, if a little too syrupy with the lyrics. The clean version, without the rapping, is the true song. But that’s not the version that’s a true representation of the band. The rap version has zero flow. The rap is shoehorned in as an afterthoughtâ€”usually under the versesâ€”making most of the song unintelligible.
I guess you would point a finger specifically at the productionâ€¦ which, of course, the band had a hand in (keeping true to the underground roots). In the end, here’s what you have: some pretty solid backing music overlayed with overpowering rapping and singing that, at times, doesn’t really fit the tone of the song or the beat of the music (when you’re rapping as fast as possible, it’s hard for it to fit into whatever you’ve decided on for backing beats).
There’s a few bright moments. “One Heart” (without the rap) is a nice song; there’s some great guitar works and backing vocals on “Why?”, and “Remember Me” is a pretty solid track once you get used to the band’s sound.
This album is a good example of what happens when the message, or reason, for an album or song overpowers the actual product. I’m sure this is a nice accompanying piece to whatever work the band is doing outside of music, but as a musical product on its own, it just falls flat (much like if one were to put together a random collection of songs and claim it as a movie soundtrack, instead of actually putting thought behind what you’re doing).
In the end, you have music that could appeal to rock or metal fans, for the most part overpowered by sub-par rapping. And if you don’t want to be sledgehammered by Jesus and God messages, well, then…