If you took a hand counter to a televangelist, you'd click six times as many references to Satan as to his former boss — it's way better for the play-acting to grouse and growl than it is to ape a stoic and benevolent Christ. So why should a screamo gospel group be any different? Blessthefall doesn't traverse more than a bar or two of riffs before stepping on the underlord pedal and spewing some musical pea soup your way. Because that's what it's gonna take to keep fear of damnation alive and maybe prevent some of you kids that are teetering on the edge from looting at the Blesssthefall merch booth. And maybe that's the only viable formula left for religious rock, since Stryper confused everybody with the bee costumes, and Scott Stapp, like Jims Swaggart and Bakker, can't seem to stay on message. Just what Blessthefall's urgent message may be is harder to discern. Judging by a track like "Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad," abducting women isn't the neighborly thing to do. "Rise Up" is slightly more traditional and devotional, from the "help me I'm falling" school of pleading, of which the Lord is said to be so fond. My pray-dar is way off, so it's your call as to whether whimpering, "How many times have you watched me fall, just to smile?" means his belief system has made him resilient or the subject of more ridicule — especially when the demon voice is bellowing mixed signals like "Help us grow! Help us grow!" Sure, it sounds great, but you're left like some impressionable kid wondering if E.T. saying "be good" through a harmonizer is a bad thing.


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