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The 90’s...the infamous decade that brought heavy metal to its knees. Fortunately there were some bands which stood up and battled to keep it alive, saying Gamma Ray, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Edguy, Running Wild and most of the European bands. On the other hand, Metallica, Megadeth, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Poison, Def Leppard, etc. sold out to alternative rock, pop rock, AOR and shitty music. Christian bands followed the same line of declining. However, there are some unrated records around which still represent the best of heavy metal and hard rock.
One of those is Bride’s ‘Snakes in the Playground’ which is by far their pinnacle’s career album. So after Silence is Madness they went hard rock, pure and straight to the balls hard rock. Around 1992 Guns N’ Roses was putting out the majestic Use Your Illusions on the globe and hard rock climbed to the stars and this recording is no exception.
The album opens with a preachy speech and ‘Rattlesnake’ which is by far an outstanding hard rock piece. The vocal melody goes along with the main riff flawless. Excellent vocal performance, more raspy that high pitched. Although the solo is not killer as those of Slash from GNR the rhythm part is the one that highlights the song. New drummer comes in and Jerry is more hard rock styled than heavy metal and he is able to add some textures in the music. While not technical and rather simplistic he uses all the drums tools in a very good way. ‘Would you die for me?’ goes next is slower and very well defined riffing. Dale sings a little higher here and the screams are very cool. ‘Psychedelic Super Jesus’ is the typical ‘Stryper mainstream appeal’ for a commercial song. The chorus is ultra catchy and is mid tempo paced. One thing you will be noticed with the first 3 songs is that the solos are slightly fading away. We get more hard rock-ished but without solos slowly killed them within the following years just like Metallica.
The worst song I’d say is ‘Some things never change’ since it is pretty boring and it does not offer anything. We get two beautiful ballads on ‘I miss the rain’ which differs from those 80’s power ballads and it goes more in the vein of Bon Jovi’s ‘Thank you for loving me’ or Poison ‘Every Rose has its thorn’. ‘Goodbye’ is the other ballad and it is piano oriented like ‘Home Sweet Home’ from Motley Crue but this one has only piano. The vocal melodies are well performed considering that so far they haven’t had any ballads on 4 recordings. Another thing that you will notice is that they began experimenting with a lot more sounds and instruments just like GNR in the fabulous UYI I and II. Slide guitars, ocarinas, turntables, percussion which will enrich the music and at the same time it will diminish the heavy approach. By the next albums the heaviness completely disappeared.
If I’d have to describe this album I would say it sounds very much like GNR’s UYI with kicking ass hard rock, good textured riffing, adding more instruments and less classic heavy metal approach. Bon Jovi’s influences from Blaze of Glory and Keep the Faith are also present. Much like Whitecross’s ITK this was a commercial success and to me the best album they have put out so far. The following path is a tale for another day which brought them to nothing but dead air. But with ‘Snakes’ they managed to accomplish a perfect balance of good music for the dawn of a new age, interesting lyrics, amazing vocal performance and mainstream recognition.