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Test of Faith
Released: 2000, Lion Music
Another metal band from Arizona. That’s 2 this month. Things must be looking up for American metal. Its interesting to note that even though they are based in Arizona, Jarra are signed to Lion Records which is based in Finland. Jarra was formed by Kathie Jarra and Johnny Russian as a cover band which preformed on the South Jersey club circuit. The band was a staple of the club circuit for a number of years playing both covers and their own original material. They also supported many national acts on a regular basis including Cinderella, Kix and Faster Pussycat. (Don’t let this fool you.). The bands first release was a four song E.P. entitled Two Evils that received lots of recognition and opened up the German market for Jarra. This European recognition gave the band the confidence to record a full length disc that turned into Test of Faith. Jarra recently relocated to Arizona and picked up a new bass player in the process so the lineup now consists of Kathie Jarra on vocals and guitar, Johnny Russian: lead guitar, Shane Diaz: drums and Arizona native David Chaney on bass guitar.
Kathie Jarra handles the lead vocals for Jarra and she does a great job. Metal, even with bands such as Nightwish and Power Symphony, has very few females , especially when they are the band leader. Test of Faith is 8 songs of straight ahead metal that is breath of fresh air coming from a country that is being overrun with mallcore. The opening track is a scorcher called "Eternal Love". Kathie Jarra has a powerful voice that fits the band well. Up next is the slow and plodding track "Black Snow (The Final Sign)" . Great track that builds up to a great ending and features a great solo from Johnny Russian. This guy puts some feeling into his solos. A great touch. "Indian War Love Song (Deliver Me)" is one of the songs that gained Jarra some attention in Germany. This song is as close to an epic tune as you will find on this CD and features some of Kathie Jarra’s best vocal work on the release. The CD closes out with a couple of more avoustic songs. First is the ballad "Always, All Ways" which is dedicated to Stevie Ray Vaughn. At times this track reminds me of "Patience" by Guns n’ Roses but with a harder edge. One of the best songs on the disc in my estimation. The closer is the song "Arizona" which is an all acoustic instrument obviously named after the bands adopted state.
Not only is Kathie Jarra the lead vocalist and guitar player in a metal band, she is also involved with making movies. She has done voice over work and singing for many films in Germany and is now working as the music supervisor on the film "The Villikon Chronicles". Test of Faith is a good metal CD. The band stays with a straight ahead metal style which serves them well. Johnny Russian plays with emotion and not just with a million notes a minute which makes him an enjoyable lead player to listen to for a full CD. With Jarra having a foothold in German metal market I look forward to seeing if they can translate this to a greater presence in North America.
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