Where Do I Begin?
Independent release, 2005
REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/2005
After nine years and hundreds of reviews, I find myself more and more seeking out challenges.
Case in point: I'm not a religious guy. Spiritual, yes; religious, no. There's been too much intolerance and destruction waged "in the name of God" for me to put my faith in any human being's interpretation of the sacred. All of which makes the frankly evangelical Christian hard rock trio Mouthpiece a challenge for me to review.
It's one I'm up for, though, in large part because Devin Williams, the singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer/mastermind behind Mouthpiece, is clearly a talented guy. His sound could be described as Creed squared -- a similar combination of fat guitar crunch, urgent melodies and spiritually-tinged lyrics, but with substantially heavier music and more overtly religious lyrics. Listening to this disc, I was impressed with how well this combination works -- faith is an intense, emotional subject that matches up surprisingly well with throbbing hard rock.
The intensity of numbers like "Coming Home" and the dynamic opener "The Rok" may in fact catch CCM listeners off guard. Williams may be preaching the gospel, but the dude still manages to rock pretty formidably. The Creed parallel becomes clearer on more power-ballad-y numbers like "Kiss The Son" (get it?), but far from dominating the album, slower cuts are the exception. More typical are muscular tracks like "Standing So Close" and the hammering closer "Can You Feel."
I can't properly call myself a fan of Mouthpiece -- these songs are too relentlessly evangelical in perspective for my tastes -- but I have a lot of respect for the quality and artistry of the music, which is consistently powerful and well-crafted. Special kudos to Williams and Chuck Butler on the production side, as this disc features a crystal-clean sound that amplifies the potency of Williams' huge riffs.
Bottom line? Devin Williams is a very talented guitarist and singer, and Where Do I Begin? is a dynamic, entertaining entree of hard rock, with an extra-large side of New Testament. The lyrics might not have been my thing, but I sure didn't suffer while cranking this disc up loud.
[For more information, visit www.mouthpieceonline.net]