So—Let’s get the obvious out of the way—how in the world can this album already be twenty-five years old?! It seems like just yesterday I would have been enjoying the sweet sounds of “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus” on the radio, rocking out to the delicious riffs of “I’m Not the King,” or nodding along to the relatability of “Man of God” for the first time.
Indeed, the years have flown by—but unlike my faded memory of when I first heard Bloom from beginning to end, or finally owned my own copy, the album has certainly stuck with me. In fact, I think my appreciation for it has only grown as the years have passed. That of course is usually the sign of a great album, and I believe that this Audio Adrenaline classic fits that description. While their debut was certainly an uneven and perhaps ill-conceived attempt at a Beastie Boys sound-alike, and Don’t Censor Me had more electronic elements with a few career defining hits, Bloom was the the band finding its firm footing in a guitar riff-centric sound.
Original guitarist Barry Blair is to thank for the tremendously catchy and raw guitar licks, really taking the band to the next level with his musicianship. Sadly, this was his swan song with the band as he left to pursue other musical interests, but it was a great way to go out. The musical direction may have been a risk at the time, but it certainly paid off with what I believe is their best overall album, and one I would also call among my personal all-time favorites of the genre.
Ultimately, it falls just short of a perfect 5 star score, but with its incredibly strong front half, it more than deserves a 4.5 rating. Arguably the first eight songs stack up against nearly any album of the 90s, perhaps even in the genre all-time. For my money, “I’m Not the King” is the top track, but I wouldn’t fight too hard against a case being made for the insanely hooky “Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus” for that distinction. Other highlights of the album would be “Walk on Water,” their great cover of “Free Ride,” and the strong opener “Secret.”
All in all, Bloom is a classic, and if you ask me, it belongs in the conversation for Top 100 albums of Christian Music history. Do yourself a favor and give it another listen, I’m willing to bet you won’t be sorry, and will likely be singing along in no time with a big smile on your face.
— Josh Balogh