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CHASE THE SUN (1999)
Chase The Sun - Click to view!Few bands know how to party like the Orange County Supertones. When they burst onto the scene in the early 90's, they took the Christian market by storm with their bold, in-your-face ska stylings. Alas, times have changed, and ska is now more or less pushing up daisies, forcing the Supertones to evolve into a more contemporary band. Rarely can the band's fans listen to Chase the Sun, however, without reliving the Supertones's glory days: the days when brass and strings rocked side-by-side, the days when black suits were all the rage, the days when the Supertones were in charge.

Sworn by many to be the Supertones's best, their third record breathed new life into the hip ska sound already present on their first two discs. "One Voice," a track calling Christians to put aside their disagreements and worship God in unity, opens the project with rougher, rap-core lyrics courtesy of Matt Morginsky. Brian Johnson's guitars seem more prominent and flashy than on the band's prior recordings, and Darren Mettler and Daniel Spencer's brass work is in exceptional form. It's these two guys who really make the record work, as proven on horn-heavy tracks such as "Hallelujah" and "Hanani." Next we're introduced to some Supertones reggae on "Away From You," which features guest vocals from Crystal Lewis. Surprisingly, her silky voice melds smoothly with Morginsky's as the two share the one true philosophy with listeners: there's no life, peace, or joy without Christ. Track five is a song penned by the band to their fans, showing them their "Dedication," and rocks in an untraditional non-ska manner, but the guys quickly return to their old roots on "Grounded." Morginsky again takes the rapid rap route while the band tries to keep up instrumentally, and the result is nearly identical to the song "Little Man" from their Strike Back album. The song's conclusion is a daring declaration of rap-core metal that would make bands like Pillar or Limp Bizkit proud, but the lyrics prove even bolder: "Kids in universities drowning in an ocean of apostate philosophy / we need apologetic instruction / mental reconstruction / ignorance reduction / to halt the mass abduction."

The second half of the album features the Supertones pulling even more new stunts from their bag of tricks. "Old Friend" is an acoustic surprise with no brass anywhere to be heard. Instead, acoustic guitars take the forefront accompanied by Morginsky's toned-down singing, making this track feel like a cozy, campfire sing-a-long. The fun title cut, on the other hand, holds a deep rap funk until just before the end, at which point the trumpet erupts into an inferno of notes, spewing them forth and turning the song from rap to ska in an instant. A few tracks later, the band starts their "Revolution" against lyrics and plays this one strictly instrumentally. Mettler and Spencer lay down a weighty, retro tune with Tona Terusa's quaking bass polishing it off, and this combination makes the song reminiscent of something from an Austin Powers soundtrack. Lastly, "Refuge (In Conclusion)" closes Chase the Sun in the same style as "Old Friend," with a few minor tweaks. Only one acoustic guitar is present, and the flow of the melody is slower and more worshipful, making it an ideal tune to end a concert. It's a memorable farewell indeed, as Morginsky sums up the theme of the disc: "Welcome to the end of time well spent / I hope the words I'm singin' find you well / but don't miss the message / there's no greater truth / take refuge in His heart."

We all know what happened next. As ska music slowly began to wither away, the Supertones attempted to adapt, changing their trademark sound to a more rock fronted effort. Unfortunately, their recent attempts have been less successful. Whether the Supertones will orchestrate a ska revival in the future is unknown for certain, but finished or not, listeners will continually relish Chase the Sun as the album celebrating the height of the band's ministry.
- Rick Foux
September 2003
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