EAST WEST - The Light In Guinevere's Garden (Vinyl)
Transcending The Genres
East West (Psalm 103:12) was a Christian rapcore/rock band from California who actually trace roots back to the late 80’s and was largely driven by vocalist/guitarist Mike Housen. Over the subsequent decade (‘90’s) they released a few albums and experienced many line-up changes but never really hit it big until they released The Light In Guinevere’s Garden in 2001. This very diverse, catchy and spiritually charged release featured perhaps the band’s best line-up ever with Mike Housen (vocals/guitars), Mike Tubbs (vocals/guitars), James Jenkins (bass) and Bobby Vegura (drums). They disbanded not long after the release of the follow-up Hope In Anguish in 2003.
In 2019, this underground powerhouse has now been released by Roxx Records on vinyl for the first time ever – mastered for vinyl by Rob Colwell – in 300 units (250 black/50 Grey/Black Swirl). The record is housed in a paper inner sleeve with included two-sided 12” insert with lyrics and pictures. Additionally, a “promo” CD is included which contains the same 11 tracks exclusive to the vinyl remaster. And if that wooden lion on the cover wasn’t fierce or captivating enough before, his edges have been coarsened and features darkened just enough to make him even more devastating. Also, the East West logo was moved to the left upper corner. From my perspective, this is one very cool cover, especially now that it’s a full 12”x 12.”
“There is no way to put all this diversity into one neat little package … no way!”
Often compared to acts like Project 86 and P.O.D., East West – with this release – moved in even wider musical spheres. From rapcore to hardcore to screaming death metal and everything in between. The amazing thing is that these guys pulled it off! The songs were short and to the point. And instead of creating one song after another with the same vibe, these guys really mix it up. The vocal styles range from the alternative sounds in a song like “Closure,” where melody is the emphasis, to songs like “Ded,” where raspy hardcore razor blade vocals are the rule. Overall, the production sound is well-rounded but with plenty of lower register beef – this latter quality really brought out on the vinyl media. These new versions on CD/vinyl sound considerably better than my original disc.
“Wake” has this electronic/distorted almost industrial vibe juxtaposed with brutal, hardcore growls and riffs. The trippy “Song-X” groove is just so chill. Low-end, whispered rap dialogue carries the verses overtop of scratchy-record overdubs, and then guitars kick in with the harsh chorus chimes, “Your mind is blind and your eyes can’t see.” I always thought “Nephesh” sounded like Precious Death (in the verses) meets a scathing Dale Thompson (Fistfull of Bees era) in the choruses. Lyrically, this entire release excelled, the words here just one such example of the creative interplay of provoking and uplifting.
“Now finally seeing what you’ve always known was true/Beginning to exchange what once was here for you.” – “Nephesh”
“Disturbed” was yet again another song that put together so many different elements of electronica, rap, hardcore and metal – lyrically one of the angriest tunes here. “Pictures” has a definite grunge platform, yet there are these Spanish guitars throughout that seem out of place, yet they serve to keep the song fresh. “She Cries” bleeds of U2 guitars, rhythms and emotion and yet has some of the post-grunge qualities of early Creed. And of course, one of the best songs is “Breathe” with its rapcore aggression and lyrical plea for spiritual anointing.
“Justified and we’re free, you know we hit straight/Ain’t no reason to lie, its all about a clean slate/but still we see times that are hard/Sticking to lines that are faded and scarred/So we press on never turning around, no need to look back when there’s nothing but ground/As we wait for you to bring us alive/Oh won’t you breathe on us.” – “Breathe”
Throughout its 37-minute course The Light In Guinevere’s Garden never fails to engage or entertain. While I’m not able to provide any insight into the enigmatic album title, I can say that I enjoy every one of these songs just as much as I had remembered. So if you are an open-minded listener and enjoy diversity in your music, check this one out.
She Cries (5:34)
Let You Go (3:59)