After nearly a half-decade long hiatus, Audio Adrenaline came back in 2013 with Kings and Queens, albeit with a much-altered lineup. Featuring the vocal talents of Kevin Max (the other guy in dc Talk), Dave Ghazarian on guitar, Jared Byers on drums, and Jason Walker on the keys. The only original member remaining is Will McGuinness on the bass guitar.
Kings & Queens (2013): 10 tracks, 37 minutes
So, I hope it’s not just my family that’s upset with the new direction Audio Adrenaline is headed in. The only songs that even sound at all like classic Audio A are “He Moves You Move,” “King of the Comebacks,” or “Change My Name.” They’re good songs, I’ll give them that, but if you’re going to call your band Audio Adrenaline, shouldn’t it sound like the original?
Maybe I’m being too hard on them. To be fair, at least half of the original band is still involved in the writing process. Mark Stuart still co-wrote some of the songs and Will McGuinness is still playing bass. However, I think the main reason Audio A made a comeback is because of the ministry they’re affiliated with currently. Named after their hit song, “Hands and Feet” from Underdog, The Hands and Feet Project helps Haitian orphans by offering child sponsorships and short-term mission trips to Haiti. In his own words, Stuart said, “When I lost my voice, I would have never imagined God increasing the platform of Audio Adrenaline. I would have never expected to be a voice for the Orphans of Haiti.” So, even though they don’t sound the same, they’re still doing some great work.
My favorite track on the record, “He Moves You Move” has some great lyrics about being in line with God’s will and “Believer” is along similar lines. “Kings & Queens” is essentially the soundtrack for their ministry (along with “Hands and Feet”). I like the references to a handful of their old songs in “King of the Comebacks,” in which they even feature vocals from Mark Stuart.
The only lyrical issue is that “Seeker” and “The Answer” both have a reference to God being “the Answer,” making it somewhat difficult to distinguish them.
Musically, the guitar work on “He Moves You Move” is fantastic, but it doesn’t really shine through anywhere else. “Kings & Queens” and “20:17 (Raise the Banner)” are good anthem songs, while “King of the Comebacks” and “Change My Name” get you pumped up. The last three tracks are barely distinguishable from each other.
So, while it’s not Audio Adrenaline in the strictest sense, at least this offshoot made a half-decent album. And at least they still have Mark Stuart and Will McGuinness around to hold down the fort. And you can’t argue with the good they’re doing in their ministry. Still, all that doesn’t make it a great album; maybe a good album, but not quite great. 6.5/10