Crystal Hutchens/Writer/The Anchorage Press
"You don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy this music, however; I’m not and I di
Zionize have just released their second album, the eponymous Zionize, which is available at the Last Frontier Christian Book Fair and should soon be in stock at Mammoth Music. It’s an impressive piece of work.
You might have gathered already that Zionize is a Christian band. The word “Zionize” comes from the experience of the band’s drummer, Tim Jeter, who heard it while watching reports of the beginning of the war on terrorism, according to the band’s manager, Teo Ransum. “Speakers and reporters used the word to describe the action of people of the Western world to spread the Good News of the Gospel to an area of the world where the Gospel is not considered to be true,” Ransum said.
You don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy this music, however; I’m not and I did, effortlessly. In fact, you’d have to pay close attention to their lyrics to detect anything religious. That could be a big plus for them, as it was for Jars of Clay. Zionize sounds something like Creed or Alice in Chains, with a full sound owing to two guitars and a cello. Timothy Johnson handles lead vocals and writes songs; Steven Heath has a lead guitar, Luke Hobbs is on Rhythm, John Wakefield plays bass and Kim Steel is the cellist.
“Ghetto Blaster,” the album’s second cut, immediately got my attention because it reminded me of an old Drunk Poets tune-same bouncy-but-muted bass sound, plus a brightly chirpy guitar. “Take me to your ghetto blaster,” the lyrics begin, and then:
I want to play you a song about love and peace
And how Jesus set me free.
Please turn up your ghetto blaster
Because the enemy’s defeated
By the purport of our testimony.
“Run and Fly,” the fifth track, is a radio-ready, with a crazy mix of distorted guitar and a reggae lick that rides on a solid bass backbone. The lyrics glue it together, with the catchy chorus “I can see him in my mind/First he’ll run and then he’ll fly/in my mind.”
The album ends with an unlisted track. First there’s some vocal beat-boxing combined with laughter, which segues into a little girl saying “Hello, hello, can you hear me, dad?…Don’t record it…Well, if you want to you can but I don’t think it’d be a good idea cause I might not sound good.” Then she does an a cappella version of “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.” If you’ve ever seen that commercial for the Christian CD sampler, you’ve heard a snippet of this song. She fumbles and asks to start over and sounds as cute as a button.
Zionize is a clean recording overall with a nice mix of effects, soaring vocals and strong backup harmonies interspersed with extravagant guitar solos. The only song on the album I didn’t care for was the fourth, “$7 Silk,” which seemed discombobulated-a distorted guitar jumps in at times like someone butting into a conversation, and the line “Well I’m on my way” unfortunately smacks of Lionel Richie. Still, nine out of ten tracks are winners here. This is a hearty thumbs-up.