Formed three years ago, Cold Hand of Christ has gone through numerous lineup changes since releasing a three-song demo in 1998. And, just so we know who is in the band these days and what their personalities are like, the group sent us biographical information on each one. We learn that vocalist Reverend Jim W. Jones likes "whiskey and women" and dislikes his "cinicism [sic]" and most of his "negative traits"; bassist Beck Bailey likes "tallness" and dislikes "shit talkers" and "people who talk just to hear themselves"; guitarist Matt Sugerik likes "all breasted women" and dislikes "old shitty Cadillacs"; and percussionist Mike LeMasters likes "quiet evenings at home" and dislikes "crowds" and "stress." As eclectic as their likes and dislikes may be, Cold Hand of Christ sounds surprisingly one-dimensional on this self-titled record.
Bellowing "Jesus Christ, commit yourself/Admit your weakness" in "Reign," Jones does his best to evoke sheer terror, but the cheesy electronic effects inserted into the middle of the song detract from its overall effectiveness. Jones, who sings in such a low register that it's practically impossible to understand the lyrics, constantly struggles to sound as menacing as possible. He's actually a better singer when he tones down the anger for the melodic interludes in "From the Gutter." But even when the band puts a twist on the death metal formula of heavy guitars and pummeling drums by playing off-kilter time changes and using electronic samples, Jones's incessant references to religious doubt ("Green Grows"), death ("Labor of Love"), and war ("Soldier Boy") become redundant by the end of the 13-song album.Cold Hand of Christ performs on October 14 at the Agora.