Petra

This Means War

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

This Means War! ushered in a new era for one of the most durable franchises in Christian rock. The golden-toned Greg X. Volz had led the band for several years, but he departed after 1985's Beat the System to pursue a solo career. The vacancy was filled two years later by John Schlitt, and the difference was significant. Whereas Volz always sounded more comfortable with adult contemporary pop, Schlitt possessed a bona fide hard rock voice, a powerful shrieking tenor in the vein of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler or Quiet Riot's Kevin DuBrow. Schlitt gave Petra a welcome jolt of electricity just as the band was beginning to fade into the background of the bustling contemporary Christian music industry. The recurring military motif of This Means War!, an apparent attempt at a rock & roll update of "Onward Christian Soldiers," added to the impression that the band had rediscovered their old slogan "Petra Means Rock." But a closer listen reveals that this impression was somewhat illusory. Schlitt's vocals are more aggressive than Volz's, but the songwriting and production on This Means War! are actually just as pop-based as on Beat the System. There are plenty of electric guitars, but they generally serve only as a simple amplification of the keyboard parts that continue to drive the music. Despite the fact that the band's lead guitarist, Bob Hartman does all the songwriting, there are virtually no electric guitar jams and the pace of Louie Weaver's drumming is reserved and cautious. This Means War! may have been intended as proof that the band could still rock out, but the only thing it really proves is that it is possible to play rock music without ever letting a hair fall out of place.

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