Rock Firm
Hearbeat Europe/Insteel Sounds
November 25, 2008

Nazarenes - Rock Firm Track list
  1. Solid As A Rock
  2. Same Shit
  3. Don't Let Me Down
  4. Roots
  5. Let's Chill Down
  6. Walking In The Rain
  7. Crash Dem Wid Love
  8. I Wanna Shout Loud
  9. Your Time Is Up
  10. Marvellous
  11. Our World
  12. We Stand Firm
  13. Jungle
Rate this album!
Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 28-
Very Good -Votes: 4-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 2-
Disappointing -Votes: 2-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 37
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 3/4
The Nazarenes are Medhane Tewolde and Noah Isac Tewolde, two brothers who grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the mid 70's among a large close-knit family. At that time and place Reggae was considered to be sort of an underground music and despite the scarcity and the lack of due promotion, the hypnotic riddim and the conscious message it carried soon engulfed the heart and soul of the entire family. This was a very unique sound - all types of music but Reggae blared through the speakers of every café and clubs and on the radio. Medhane and Noah's taste in music stood out among their peers. Medhane received his first guitar at the age of 12 and he began to scratch.

In the 80's Medhane and Noah played with various bands in Europe (mainly Sweden and Germany). Medhane on guitar and as lead vocal, Noah on bass and back vocal. In the 1990's Medhane joined well known Reggae bands from Jamaica and went on European and African tours with the likes of Iqulah, Culture Knox, Mamma Booker (Bob Marley's mother). Noah soon took upon lead singing. In 1992 he was discovered in Gothenburg, Sweden, which landed him a solo record deal with Virgin Records. He released three singles, one of which was a hit in Sweden. In 1994 his debut album was released through Virgin Records under the name Anbessa. In 1996 Medhane and Noah reunited their forces and engaged on a new venture; their own style and vibe. As the Nazarenes they released their debut album "Orit" in 2000. Four years further on their musical route they come up with a notable concept album called "Songs Of Life". The year 2008 sees a new release of the duo, the fine album 'Rock Firm'.

The album gives us 13 songs filled with serious themes such as hope, roots, righteousness, Babylon and pride. Three tunes are sultry love songs. First there's the excellent cover of the Lennon-McCartney hit Don't Let Me Down. Usually we're not that fond of reggae artists covering pop tunes, but the rocksteady flavored effort that the duo delivers on this album is well done and does justice to the original tune. Walking In The Rain is another love song, this one is a ska riddim driven tune, very catchy and well worth spinning. Marvelous is a slow paced declaration of love to the girl he loves.

The album opens with the synthesizer driven song Solid As A Rock, but it's better to jump to the next tune, Same Shit. The vocal performance and the arrangement reminds us of the Congos during their heydays in the 1970s. The song is about "careless people, reckless people...they drain my vibe, they pollute my mind". Key song!

Agreeable Bob Marley influences and a fantastic vocal arrangement on Roots turn that song into an hypnotic tribute to the African continent. The quality doesn't drop with the next tune Let's Chill Down. Some might call it a love tune, but we would prefer to call it a shout for peace and living together in good compromise.

The songs Crash Dem Wid Love and I Wanna Shout Loud will grab you if you're willing to let the music get into your head. Especially I Wanna Shout Loud creates a dubbed up atmosphere. Your Time Is Up is a marvelous song about the days and ways of Babylon that are over now. We Stand Firm with its full paced tempo isn't our cup of tea, so we switch to Jungle, the last tune of the album. A quality tune you won't resist, we're sure... trust us.

Altogether Nazarenes have given us an album with a decent amount of impressive tunes.