Religious to Damn - Glass Prayer - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Religious to Damn - Glass Prayer

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2011-02-28

Seemingly on a mission to be more Kate Bush than Kate Bush herself, Religious to Damn's lead singer and creative focus, Zohra Atash's breathy, fluttery vocals are all over this debut from the New York band. It means that one obvious criticism of Glass Prayer is impossible to avoid: specifically, that this is just a very good Kate Bush impersonation. And that might be true, for the most part. But it is a very good Kate Bush impersonation.

The group's most Bush moment comes on the exquisite title track, which begins with thumping 'Hounds of Love' drums, followed by twisting, tinkling piano a la 'Wuthering Heights' before Atash's swooping, seductive vocals shimmer into being before us. It's basically all Bush's greatest moments in one perfect song. Derivative, but faultless. Those drums crop up again on the sprightly 'Terra', this time accompanied by serrated, tense guitar. Elsewhere, we do get some variation, although things never stray too far from the template: 'Let the Fires Burn' and closing track 'The Bell' explore gypsy folk and are all foggy moors and doomed, obsessive love affairs (again, something of a Bush staple). The likes of 'Black Sand', 'Drifter', 'Sunset' and 'Serpent Song', meanwhile, detour towards languid, Mazzy Star-esque alt-Americana, albeit with some added melodrama which is - again - pure Kate Bush.

But no matter where Religious to Damn have drawn their inspiration, Glass Prayer is still a decent collection of songs. The band clearly has an ear for a good tune and a strong grasp of dynamics. The album also boasts some great, viscous bass work which recalls the late, criminally under-rated Mick Karn of Japan. Ultimately, Religious or Damned will either be to Kate Bush what Oasis were to The Beatles - slavish copyists who have neither the talent nor the inclination to stake out their own distinct identity - or they will move beyond this understandable infatuation with one of the greatest songwriters the UK has ever produced. Time will tell but there's plenty of evidence on Glass Prayer to suggest they can achieve the latter.

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