Steve Vai
Sex and Religion


3.0
good

Review

by KjSwantko USER (37 Reviews)
February 12th, 2012 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Steve Vai turns his attention away from showcasing his world-class playing ability and opts to focus on more conventional, mainstream songwriting.

The first thing one will notice is the addition of vocals, and a little-known fact about Sex & Religion is that Vai selected a relatively unknown Canadian named Devin Townsend to handle the brunt of the vocal duties. Townsend would go on to accomplish more than a dozen acclaimed albums as the mastermind behind Strapping Young Lad and numerous other solo projects of his own; so, it’s interesting to see that Vai recognized rare talent when it came along. Unfortunately for Sex & Religion, it’s clear Townsend was brought on as a hired gun and wasn’t involved in the writing process because the majority of the album is lackluster in that department.

From start to finish, the songs aren’t terrible but all hover in the realm of mediocrity, seldom making the listener jam hard (m/), weep, sit in stunned silence, or any other response great music should evoke. As we now know, Townsend’s vocals are best when saturated with anger and free flowing expression that he can meticulously place in his own pieces; here, Townsend isn’t given free range to produce and perform, which results in a talented vocalist operating at about 80%. This isn’t to say he’s awful, in fact the effort is there and he is overall pleasing, but other times Townsend sounds as if he’s trying to imitate Sebastian Bach’s signature high-pitched, full-of-attitude screaming style (Deep Down Into The Pain, Dirty Black Hole) which can present itself as lacking authenticity.

The title track, Sex & Religion, is a moderately amusing track with lines like “Must you make a decision, between sex and religion" Why can't you love God in your bed"” and “Jesus Christ is in your bed tonight.” The only problem is I can’t decide if it’s a troll song intended to be a kneeslapper, or if it’s intended to actually be good. It lies somewhere in between which means Vai was ineffective at whatever he was aiming to accomplish. Townsend did contribute in the writing of Pig which gave us a glimpse into the future of Townsend’s vocals (like we’d hear in Strapping Young Lad); but for Pig, Townsend’s vocals and Vai’s playing never mesh soundly and form a sloppy, convoluted mess.

By now you’re thinking, “okay, it’s a Steve Vai album, what about the guitar playing though"” Relative to Passion and Warfare (which many consider to be a landmark album), Sex & Religion is a level below, lacking godly riffing and especially the endless orgasmic “feel” that turned Vai into a sensation in the guitar world. However, it’d be blasphemous for me to not point out a few Vai solos, so- Here And Now and Touching Tongues are solid in that regard. Also, another thing I’ll briefly mention is the album does have plenty of variety, and the songs do vary from each other and retain their own identity which is a positive.

Rescue Me, Or Bury Me concludes Sex & Religion on a strong note with a Neal Morse/Transatlantic-esque track that is the lone worthwhile piece on the album. I’ve pointed out far more negatives than reasons to rush out and pick up this album, but at the end of the day I feel compelled to do so given the prestige and the capacity of the musicians involved. Any kind of project associated with names like Vai, Bozzio, and Townsend is inherently not going to be bad, but Sex & Religion never ascends beyond being slightly “good”, either.

As Vai himself sums it up-
”With players like Terry Bozzio, T.M. Stevens and Devin Townsend, in order to have a band there needs to be an unconditional acceptance of everybody else’s contribution. I was not ready for that kind of commitment on my part….those guys are really wonderful musicians, but they have their own personality. When I try to have a band together I'm too much of a control freak. I want things to be done too much of a certain way. I gave them some freedom, but the freedom musicians of this calibre need, I wasn't able to give. Therefore, blame it on me, this project will not come together again.”

3/5



Recent reviews by this author
Kamelot One Cold Winter's NightEvergrey A Decade And A Half
Evergrey The Storm WithinLynch Mob Smoke This
Evergrey Hymns for the BrokenY and T Contagious
user ratings (131)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Hatshepsut (3)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
KjSwantko
February 11th 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sup

KjSwantko
February 11th 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree actually, gonna delete the first half now. And thanks, System.

Ire
February 11th 2012


41948 Comments


I dig his work with Zappa and his first solo album but he gets really boring/annoying after that.

KjSwantko
February 11th 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Vai is amazing. His feel, creativity, and technical ability is almost unmatched. But I can see why others may get bored though. This is his only crap album really.

indigonowhere
Emeritus
February 12th 2012


10725 Comments


Very good review

The last quote is how I feel about having my own band, although I'm not good enough at all instruments to work by myself...

KjSwantko
February 12th 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I think we all know the feeling. Better start working on all your skills so you can be your own boss bro

TheNotrap
February 12th 2012


8930 Comments


Good work man, have a pos.

Not an amazing album but still has its moments.

Digging: Funeral Mist - Hekatomb

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
February 12th 2012


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This fucking rules. Not even gonna read.

KjSwantko
February 12th 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

no it sucks

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
February 13th 2012


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album Rating: 3



no it sucks







Oh ok.. Seriously though, I don't care if this isn't your typical wanky Vai album. Devin is on it, great vocals, composition, solos, and there's 90's nostalgia all over this. What more can you ask for..



cumilaut
February 13th 2012


39 Comments


it did have its own moment, one of my fav albums by Vai actually..

KjSwantko
March 1st 2012


10774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"I don't care if this isn't your typical wanky Vai album"



the last thing Vai is known for is being "wanky"

dannyboy89
March 1st 2012


13339 Comments


Nice review, liked it more than the other one.

Only detail I have to point out is that it came off as a bit fanboyish. Nevertheless, the formatting is very good, and you seemed to enjoy writing this. Verdict: a pos.

SitarHero
August 4th 2015


6584 Comments


In My Dreams With You is simultaneously cheesy as all hell, but so damn ear-wormy.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy