Despite a long career full of successes, not many people have heard of Christian Rock band LIBERTY N’ JUSTICE, which is a real shame. Each release from the Melodic Rock supergroup features a star-studded cast of musicians and singers; the albums’ back covers usually read like a who’s who of prominent Melodic Rock pioneers and innovators, and “Light It Up” is no exception. Some of the more well-known guests on the album include L.A. GUNS singer Phil Lewis, TWISTED SISTER guitarist Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda, recently reinstated DANGER DANGER vocalist Ted Poley, shirtless DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen, and former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes.
The title track kicks off the album in style, as Phil Lewis belts his way through a semi-aggressive number. KING KOBRA guitarist JK Northrup contributes a rather sleazy guitar riff to the song, lending it a bit of a modern-day Sunset Strip flair. However, its follow-up, “The Other Thief,” is an overaggressive mess that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album. “The Other Thief” very quickly makes it clear that the heaviest songs on “Light It Up” are not among the album’s best, especially when compared to the string of awesome AOR songs that follow, including the awesomely catchy “Blink” and “Man Vs. Mother Nature.”
Despite the song itself being a bit lacklustre, Sheldon Tarsha delivers a great vocal performance on “Uncle Sam,” lending the song a bit of Punk flair with his aggressive yet melodic snarl. Kelly Keeling and Keri Kelli (say that five times fast) also deliver excellent performances on the touching ballad “Every Reason To Believe.” “Best Time” is a heavier Alternative Rock number featuring the bizarre combination of DEF LEPPARD’s Phil Collen on guitar and WWE wrestler Chris Jericho on vocals.
On an album filled with great tracks, the energetic AOR track “Wrestling With God” is far and away the best song. With a super-catchy chorus and great guitar work from GNR’s Bumblefoot, it’s the very picture of what a modern Melodic Rock track should sound like. “Beautiful Decision” is another standout track, with its sunny style harkening back to a more classic ‘80s AOR sound.
It may be early in the year, but “Light It Up” is primed to be one of the strongest Melodic Rock releases of 2010. The plethora of guest appearances strengthen what is already an incredibly sturdy release. Despite a few misguided attempts at Metal songs, this is an album any AOR fan will love.
(Online May 17, 2010)