Jerusalem - 'She'

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Jerusalem - 'She'

New album by one of the pioneers of Christian rock.

One of the pioneers of Christian rock Jerusalem have been, as the band proclaim, "In his Majesty's service" since 1975. They were one of the first Swedish rock bands to make an impact abroad and now they're back after a gap of 16 years. Their last album, 1994's 'The Prophet', saw a change in direction for the band away from the hard rock and metal of their 80s heyday to a (then) more modern U2 stadium style sound. 'She' continues very much in that U2 vein.

Ulf Christiansson, the only original member, leads from the front; his vocals are key to the band's character and his style has changed over the years, now sounding like a Swedish Bono. U2 is written all over opener 'Calling On' and other tracks such as the more radio friendly 'Suddenly', the rockier 'Save My Life' and the closing ballad 'Standing At Jericho' all ape the Irish band. There's an upfront bass, underpinned by a strong drum sound that drives the band and (holy) spirited Edge-like guitars throughout.

U2 aren't the only reference point; the energetic 'I Want to Leave Her' could be a recent D-A-D song and 'Crown The King' is reminiscent of The Killers. A couple of the tracks also hark back to their hard rocking roots; 'Come On' which centres round a big riff that allows the band to jam around, and 'Amor 5', again with a big rock riff and a vocal delivery that reminds me of Fish with its spoken parts that turn to vitriolic singing. There are also several ballads, the hypnotic 'Supernatural', the slow 'She' and 'Heaven', which is approaching chill out music but has one of the best vocals on the record. These tracks help to broaden the band's sound.

With many of the songs weighing in at six minutes, some outstay their welcome and some prudent pruning would have been appropriate on a record that is otherwise well produced. It's good to see a band not resting on their laurels and trying to recreate past glories, but move their sound into the next century. However, for a band who are renowned for alter calls and even performing exorcisms at gigs, there's nothing here that's likely to have that kind of effect on the unconverted, partly due to a glut of mid paced tracks and a lack of killer hooks, but there's enough going for the record to ensure existing Jerusalem fans keep the faith.

Duncan Jamieson

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