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A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom

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Album Review

The trouble with most Christian rock is that while it may do a fine job of encouraging folks to get right with Jesus, it usually falls short on the rock side of the equation — there just aren't many bands on the spiritual tip who can rock out with the fire and abandon of, say, the Stones, the Ramones, or Motörhead on a good night. Whatever anyone has to say about the Knights of the New Crusade, they're one Christian band that's not afraid to make with the rock hard, strong, and frantic; sounding more like the Mummies or Thee Headcoats than any of the usual Christian rock suspects, the Knights crank out sloppy but hot-wired garage rock that should satisfy anyone looking for some high-test bash and crash. At the same time, the Knights wear their spiritual beliefs on their sleeves, so much so that you have to wonder if these guys are for real — not an unfair question, since their second album, A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom, has been released on Alternative Tentacles (the label run by noted nonbeliever Jello Biafra), and the Grunnen Rocks garage punk reference site says this band is the brainchild of former Phantom Surfers leader Mike Lucas, while a MySpace page on the band cites Mummies and Dukes of Hamburg drummer Russell Quan as a member. The Knights sound remarkably straight-faced on numbers like "Got Some Gospel for You," "'E' Is Still Evil," and "Lipstick Lesbian," but when they rant about banning gay marriage, the evils of church bingo, and/or hipsters tempted by Satan in various ways, the whole thing sounds like a prank (and the final track, which is sung in tongues, could hardly be taken seriously). Either way, their commentary on the Christian entertainment industry (which encourages artists to water down their views in the interest of crossover success) or the hypocrisy of Christians supporting war or the death penalty resonates, and as rock & roll, this stuff is potent enough that you wish they'd talk less and crank out more than 26 minutes of music — the Knights of the New Crusade generate enough heat to merit a listen regardless of your (or their) religious beliefs. Onward Christian soldiers!

A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom, The Knights of the New Crusade
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