Well, I kind of didn’t mean for this to happen. I guess “zombies” would be a good thing to write the Album Du Jour entry for the 31st of October about, but in fact I was just thinking about this album and how I would like to write about it. So let’s talk once again about Audio Adrenaline and their fourth album, Some Kind Of Zombie:
Now, really, I shouldn’t be writing about this album without talking about how they got to this album (my favorite of theirs) from their first two albums, which if you remember, were almost entirely made out of cheese. Well, there are two reasons for this anomalous album.
For one, the album that precedes it was something of a big artistic step forward for Audio A. Their album Bloom was a huge seller, mainly based off the merits of its stand out single, “Never Gonna Be As Big As Jesus”. Though that album may get its own writeup someday, for now I will just say that it moved Audio Adrenaline from being a hip-hop derived rock band that were hot on the heels of such acts as “I Luv Rap Music” artists DC Talk to an actual rock band. It was full of riffs, actual drums, and basically actually fit the band like a glove.
For this, their follow-up, that rock sound is explored more, and certainly there are riffs (including one of my favorite guitar riffs, if you can believe it), but the band decided to take things in an entirely different direction. In fact, for Some Kind Of Zombie, they took it in all kinds of directions. The album doesn’t suffer from its exploration, however, in fact the whole is cohesive enough that its explorations into many different facets of “alternative” rock are easy enough to follow.
Still, the apple didn’t fall too far from the same tree that brought us songs like “P.D.A.“, so some of the songs, though great, might be a little hard to take as seriously as they should be for this album to be greatly appreciated. It doesn’t help either that the band would go right back to goofy pop music right after this album. Still, while we’re here, let’s talk about some highlights.
For one, the album starts off with a song that I am quite fond of. It’s called “Chevette”, and if you’re not familiar, the Chevette is a type of car that, well, it’s a car. It’s kind of a popularly terrible car, but that’s the point of the song. Basically, it’s the singer recalling his poor (but rich inside) father buying a Chevette and how it was awesome for what it represented rather than what it was. It’s a solid enough metaphor, and the song itself has a great tune built on a drumming cadence and a kickin’ guitar solo-tastic bridge at some point. The guitarist, by the way, is different in this album than the previous albums, I felt that worth nothing.
“New Body” is an interesting song as well, mainly for its electronic feel (which kind of evokes more Skillet than Audio Adrenaline, but you know the two were label-mates, maybe they accidentally swapped songs at some point). Either way, the song is about being pretty much physically worthless as a human being (I think we’ve all been there), and how we’ll be rebuilt in the afterlife, taking a rather literal scriptural stance, which is always interesting in song, as it takes literally something that may be metaphorical and then turns it back into a metaphor. Either way, the chorus is catchy, what more do you want?
The main feature of the album, and really one of my favorite songs in this crazy Christian Rock genre, is the title track. “Some Kind Of Zombie” is a masterfully built rock song as far as its ultra-catchy riff and that exemplary drumming goes. The song, like the previous two songs, is a rock song, but has this pretension of high art in there somewhere (just check the video to see what I mean). While I appreciate this dynamic contrast from their previously goofy selves, it’s still a little hard to take all that seriously (maybe it’s the highschoolers dressed like goth kids). The song itself is kind of an item of interest as well, because it’s the one and only example I’ve ever heard of Christian music mixing two concepts that would typically cancel each other out, that of re-animation, or Zombies (which usually has dark conontations and/or some metaphor about the evils of humanity), and the supposed re-birth that Christians are supposed to go through. The best part is that, unapologetically, the song makes it cool that Christians, when re-birthed, are just mindless slaves to whatever is commanded of them.
It’s really a crazy concept to consider, but it’s written right there:
I hear you speak and I obey
(Some kind of zombie)
I walk away from the grave
(Some kind of zombie)
I will never be afraid
(Some kind of zombie)
I gave my life away
Really, I just wanted to draw attention to that and see if anybody else considers that a little weird? The worst part is how well the concept fits into both overall ideas.
Of course, after blowing our minds with such (possibly unintentional) interesting ideas about humanity, the band goes and does an anti-evolution song. Ok, so this one isn’t as bad as This Train’s “The Missing Link”, but it has the same overall concept of God literally creating Man out of sand, and to back this up, the chorus starts with the lines “I’m an original species,
more enlightened than Nietzshe”, ’nuff said!
The band then kind of goes into a “fun” part of the album, and really it still kind of fits in with everything. In particular, the popular (I’d say second most popular) Christian ska band The O.C. Supertones make an appearance for a song called “Blitz”. Now, if there’s one thing Audio Adrenaline knows, it’s how to, well, make audio that is adrenaline-based in some way. In this instance, it’s about a church (?) football band travellin’ down to Mexico (?) to play some football, and that winds up being this high energy motivational kind of song that doesn’t really say a whole lot outside of “Fourteen kids in an old church van”. The best part about this song is how you can’t tell whether the Supertones guy is singing it, or Audio A’s own Mark Stuart, or at least I can’t, and I’ve have this album for a very long time.
The album goes into yet another direction with an admittedly catchy acoustic ballad called “Lighthouse”, and then an e-piano bluesy English sounding thing called “Flicker”, which contains a lead guitar part that plays in a different key than the rest of the song, which is hugely irritating to me, so I skip this song often.
After one more electronics-infused acoustic ballad called “God-Shaped Hole”, the band pulls out a one-off rocker unlike anything they’ve ever done. The song is called “Superfriend”, which may evoke visions of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but is actually about, well, guess who (who is always the “friend” in Christian music?) The instrumentation is more what I’m getting at with this album. It’s all based around a minor key riff, which is already unusual for this group, but the beat is also hard rock via Motörhead or something. The other interesting bit is the guitar solo, which has this crazy filter that makes it sound entirely hollow and kind of great. Basically, this album ends with a crazy good rocker of a song.
Really though, all of the songs on this album are good in a way, some of them are even really great, and are songs that I enjoy fairly regularly. If I were to recommend any Audio A album to listen to (unless it’s for a laugh, in which case my recommendation goes to the first two albums, bar none), it would be this one. Of course, this should be no surprise to people who read Album Du Jour regularly. Remember when I said there are two reasons that this album is their best? Well, the one reason is because of the growth of the band that’s made apparent in their eclectic mix of interesting ideas and good alternative rock, and the other reason is because this album was recorded in 1997, which, as we should very well have figured out by now, was a very good year for Christian Rock.