FEAR NOT (Ex Love Life) – Fear Not [25th Anniversary Remaster +2]
Few days ago we presented here the remastered reissue of LOVE LIFE sole album. This was a short-lived act, but its member son formed a new band: FEAR NOT. The band was singed by the now legendary Pakadern Records (Elefante Bros), and despite the musical climate already changed when they released this self-titled debut “Fear Not” in 1993, the musical style still has Love Life melodic rock touches mixed with Skid Row / Seb Bach heaviness.
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary Roxx Records has fully remastered the album with the addition of 2 bonus, previously unreleased tracks (one specially recorded for this anniversary release), plus refreshed artwork. 500 pieces only.
Fear Not has a storied history that traces to 1991 when it formed initially under the name Love Life and released its debut album ‘Goodbye Lady Jane’ via Blonde Vinyl Records (remaster featured at 0dayrox).
Problem, however, is that due to specializing in alternative music, Blonde Vinyl did not know how to promote a hard rock band, let alone had the resources to do so.
When further factoring a move to a heavier musical direction not to mention band turnover – Chris Howell supplanted original guitarist Darin Eby – a change to a new moniker was in order.
Enter guitarist Michael Cutting (Holy Soldier), who was in the group a short time after the arrival of Howell, and his suggestion of the name Fear No Evil, which was later shortened to the more concise Fear Not.
A showcase performance subsequently led to Fear Not signing a deal with Pakaderm.
Having been long out of print and turning into a highly sought after collectors item – eBay listings have exceeded $100 – Fear Not was re-mastered (courtesy of Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound) and re-issued by Roxx Records in December of 2017 – 500 copies in addition to two bonus tracks.
Also of note is the improved cover art, which replaces the ‘hippie psychedelic’ flower border and lime green/pink band logo of the original with a more aesthetically pleasing black border and orange pin stripe band logo.
A first class vocalist proves crucial in helping a melodic hard rock act stand out from the crowd and such is what we have in Fear Not front man Larry Worley, whom brings a raspy and soulful style in perfect step with the genre.
Opening cut “Give It Up” allows him opportunity to display said abilities, as he soars and wails throughout a cut that brings all the trimmings in the form of grooving bass, driving guitars, glistening vocal melodies and hooks to spare.
“We Have A God” maintains the undisguised momentum but in the overall heavier package- credit Fear Not for delivering a much needed edge of muscle to all things AOR and melodic rock.
“Mr. Compromise” tempers initiative towards mid-tempo territory in lending more substantial guitar walls and the deep-rooted sense of groove to match.
A melodic rock album would not be complete without a customary ballad and such is what we have in “Till The End Of My Days”. Yes, some of the all out energy and guitar propensities to its predecessors might be diminished by it is by no means bland all the same, as more than enough creative hooks are delivered to garner your attention and emotional proclivities are on high. Equally formidable is the imposing bass line of Rod Romero.
In my opinion, “Suicide Sunshine” represents the group’s sound all over. I appreciate how the song comes in at a full six minutes, with the opening minute instrumental as tranquil overtures transition at once to a more forthright demeanor. Mid-paced momentum maintains itself the rest of the way, with verses powering ahead to forwardly placed guitars and refrain effortlessly flows to big doses of harmony vocals.
The lighter aspects at the start return for the instrumental moments. Think Skid Row0
For a moment, forget AOR and melodic hard rock, as “Money, Money” borders on all out metal. A powerhouse showstopper, the song pushes the boundaries of resolute heaviness as guitars reflect some bluesy twinges and Worley belts it out with his trademark grit and rasp. Of equal note is the thunderous drum sound coming from timekeeper Gary Hanson.
“Easy Come Easy Go” might be the album’s most plodding piece, but it proves no less able. It reflects a dark and pensive feel as it flows in reticent fashion only to explode exponentially to the hulking guitars that carry the deliberate remaining distance.
“There Is Love” jumps starts at once to punchy bass and roaring feedback, with the group again approaching all out metal territory – Fear Not much to its credit sidesteps any watered down AOR proclivities – in reflecting upon the heated, sullen and impassioned.
I love how bluesy grit defines guitars and enough accessible hooks rise above the surface to touch upon the commercial.
A return to up-tempo territory, “Mad World” stands out as a four-minute energy burst in romping its distance to full on energy, as verses bite and snarl with their churlish demeanor and refrain tempers in taking a darker if not understated low key tone. Highlight is Howell, who decorates the songs length with his austere licks and chops.
“Take Hold” closes the album as a classy acoustic based ballad. I particularly enjoy the Latin flair to the instrumental passage (with fitting Spanish guitar solo) and smattering of piano that embellishes the backend.
First bonus track “You Got Love”, originally appearing on the 2015 digitally released Liberty N’ Justice EP Life Songs, is a customary melodic hard rocker that fits nicely with the Fear Not material. The song drifts between moments acoustic laced and those with rhythm guitars maneuvering to the front of the mix.
Whereas Love Life’s album ‘Goodbye Lady Jane’ was recorded in two weeks, “Fear Not” took three months to record while benefiting from Elefante production. Elefante brothers John and Dino are at their best working with melodic rock acts, providing a pristine polish which works wonders on Fear Not in allowing for needed amounts of gloss but without taking away from its youthful vigor and energy.
When placed alongside, the original Pakaderm CD version sounds fine, but the Roxx Records re-mastering takes things to the next level with an enhanced low end (bass permeates throughout the mix) and guitars that provide added edge and bite.
I cannot help but feel “Fear Not” might have received greater acclaim in the late Eeighties as opposed to the grungy, flannel short wearing early Nineties of its release. In other words, it potentially came out 4 to 5 years too late.
Regardless of era, one cannot deny the album’s virtues in the form of commercial hooks, energetic band performance and understated melodious heaviness. It sounds as fresh and relevant as ever – and even more so with the improved remastering.
There is something about many mid-Eighties to early Nineties albums that while good for the time sound so much better when brought up to modern production standards.
Recent remastered re-issues spell this out and all the more so Fear Not whose self-titled debut comes highly recommended in its upgraded and improved re-issued form.
This band rocks (still in the business), and you’ll be surprised by its quality.
01 – Give It Up
02 – We Have A God
03 – Mr. Compromise
04 – Till The End Of My Days
05 – Suicide Sunshine
06 – Money Money
07 – Easy Come Easy Go
08 – There Is Love
09 – Mad World
10 – Take Hold
BONUS TRACKS (previously unreleased):
11 – You’ve Got Love
12 – Love Is Alright
Larry Worley – vocals, guitar
Chris Howell – guitars
Rod Romero – bass, backing vocals
Gary Hanson – drums, backing vocals
Dino Elefante, Jeff Gunn – Backing Vocals
Produced & Engineered by John & Dino Elefante