“Bloom” Audio Adrenaline Review

AudioAdrenalineBloomAs one of the premier CCM bands of the 1990’s, Audio Adrenaline has gained a loyal following over the years. Though their popularity skyrocketed after “Big House” debuted on Don’t Censor Me, Audio A had a rough start with their first and self-titled album from ForeFront Records in 1992. At first, they had an almost hip-hop vibe, like fellow band dcTalk, but eventually they evolved into a rock band, starting with Bloom. This was followed by Some Kind of Zombie in 1997, Underdog in 1999, Lift in 2001, Worldwide in 2003, and Until My Heart Caves In in 2005. They disbanded in 2006 due to lead singer Mark Stuart’s damaged vocal cords.

Bloom[1] (1996): 13 tracks, 50 minutes

If you’re familiar with Audio Adrenaline’s music, you know that their sound on Bloom is very similar to that of the rest of their music career. Their debut and sophomore efforts were developing and maturing their sound. Bloom was a risky endeavor for Audio A, but it definitely paid off. The guitars and bass are spectacular, nor does it really get repetitive.

While at times the lyrics probably could’ve been improved upon, “Man of God” is a deep song about the ups and downs in the Christian life. If you really listen to it, Bloom has a lot of great stuff spiritually, while at some times it’s just goofy (i.e. “Jazz Odyssey”).

But what really shines on this album are the instruments. Having learned the entire album on guitar, I can attest to the genius of guitar player Barry Blair. On the heavy side are “Secret,” “I’m Not the King,” and in certain spots “See Through,” “Bag Lady,” and “Memoir.” The band does a cover of the classic rock tune “Free Ride,” and quite well, I must say. My favorite would probably be “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus,” with classic Audio A sound and excellent lyrics to back it up. The guitar and soloing work on this song are worth noting. Will McGuinness on bass shines through especially on “I’m Not the King” and “Jazz Odyssey.”

All things considered, Bloom was a milestone for Audio Adrenaline. They developed their signature sound for this record and they were forever launched into Christian music stardom after it. In the nineteen years since its release, it doesn’t really show its age. Though the lyrics are far from spectacular, they still show Audio A’s passion for the gospel (“Secret,” “Gloryland,” and “Bag Lady”), while retaining relevance in a way that secular listeners can understand.

[1] Photo from ccmrock.blogspot.com

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