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Fear of God

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In the early '90s, Fear of God arose from the ashes of a Détente, an aggressive metal band that featured the frantic and troubled vocalist Dawn Crosby. Crosby had a reputation for being difficult to work with at times and the ever-shifting lineups that surrounded her in both Détente and Fear of God suggests that musicians did indeed have a hard time sticking with the gravel-throated songstress, despite her charismatic performing abilities and intense industry attention. Toward the end of Détente's run, Michael Carlino joined up with the band and eventually the guitarist and Crosby formed an intense personal and songwriting relationship. The two musicians realized that a new band was needed to peruse the different and exciting musical direction they were headed and Fear of God was born. Along with drummer Rob Hunter, Carlino and Crosby recorded the new band's first demos in 1989 after moving to the East Coast. Still operating under the Détente moniker, the band began discussions with Warner Bros. about a recording contract and eventually they were signed. It was decided that the band's name would then change to Fear of God. Hunter had left by this time and he was eventually replaced by Steve Cordova, who along with Détente bassist Blair Darby, Carlino, and Crosby formed the first real Fear of God lineup. The group recorded their debut, Within the Veil, and the disc was released on Warner Bros. in 1991. This record would prove to be the creative high point in the careers of all the musicians involved. Crosby and Carlino had spent years in unknown bands and struggled together with Détente, personal crises and literally dozens of musicians, yet the two somehow put together a spectacular goth metal collection that has since become regarded as supremely accomplished and under-appreciated. Carlino's writing and guitar skills are undeniable and somehow combined with Crosby's yearning, tragic vocals in perfect synchronicity. It was proven before and since that without the other, each musician is fairly unremarkable, but together, they possessed something darkly magical. After a brief tour in support of Within the Veil, all the old problems arose and Cordova left the group after fighting with Crosby. Drummer Brendan Etter was taken on and Darby was also replaced by bassist Jason Levin. These new musicians brought a musical spark to Fear of God that Warner Bros. was very enthused about. The general reaction to the band's debut was strong and the label set the group up to record a follow-up later in 1992. The music was written and recorded, but when it came time for Crosby to record her vocal parts, she failed due to health problems and her struggles with addiction. This was the beginning of the end for the group. Carlino and Warner Bros. both gave up on Crosby shortly thereafter. Crosby then went on tour as Fear of God with some musicians that had no involvement with the group's earlier work. The singer quickly burned through a host of players and changed her musical direction yet again. Pavement Records signed the new heavier, almost death metal Fear of God, that while competent, contained none of the special qualities that the Carlino pairing had created. An altogether new band plus Crosby recorded the second Fear of God disc, Toxic Voodoo, in 1994. There are too many touring and one-off combinations to list, but the lineup that entered the studio for this record consisted of Chris Kalandras and Randy Bobzienon on guitar, Rob Michaelon on bass, John Grdenon on drums, and David Smadbeck on keyboards. During the recording of Toxic Voodoo, Crosby again faced more personal struggles that she seemed to have overcome. Even more wholesale member changes followed and the band was dropped from the Pavement roster. Crosby continued trying to generate label interest in the band, but there were no takers as it became obvious that her talents were only viable when combined with those of Carlino. The two (who had been romantically linked in the band's early days) were never able to work together and that fact left the band with no future. Carlino eventually got out of the music business. Dawn Crosby died of acute liver failure on December 15, 1996. ~ Vincent Jeffries