Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
The year is 1994 and the start of heavy music in America has changed. Nirvana and grunge have taken over. The metal scene (both good and bad) that dominated the 80’s is out. In 2 years Metallica will release Load and will have abandoned their metal roots.
The shift in heavy music would hit the Christian genre as well. Bride released Kinetic Faith in 1991, leaving their metal roots behind and embracing a mellower rock sound. Guardian would also slowly shift from metal to grunge and by the time 97’s Bottle Rocket is released new fans will never know that Guardian was at one time, on par with bands like Stryper (who would also shift from metal to hard rock).
1994 saw the release of Tourniquet’s fourth full-length record, Vanishing Lessons. Vanishing Lessons was a changing of the guard. Guy Ritter was out as vocalist, Luke Easter was in. Erik Mendez was no longer in the band and this would be Gary Lenaire last album with Tourniquet. More importantly, metal was on its way out and hard rock was on its way in.
Vanishing Lessons would be the bridge between Tourniquet’s thrash metal sound and the experimental hard rock that would come on Crawl to China. Although there isn’t much in the way of thrash or metal on Vanishing Lessons.
Bearing Gruesome Cargo kicks the record off and it’s a killer song but right from the open riff into the chant vocals, you have a feeling that this record is going to be something different then you were hoping for and it is. Pecking Order has a metal feel but the technical side of the band is missing. Drowning Machine has a great solo and Pushin’ Broom sounds like a Black Album b-side (only better). Vanishing Lessons is a hint at how good Tourniquet would become in 2000’s. Acidhead destroys. Ted Kirkpatrick’s drummer destroys on this track. K517 is basically a drum solo, so nothing to hate there.
While Vanishing Lessons is another metal band trying to find their way in 90’s, Tourniquet, like all of them, would eventually make their return to metal. But you can’t write off Vanishing Lessons as an awful hard rock album by a band that was once great. This isn’t Load. Tourniquet still shows a ton of talent and skill on Vanishing Lessons. The solos are all solid and while it’s not Kirkpatrick’s greatest drumming output, he flashes his kill here and there. It’s not a thrash record but I’d still call it metal (mostly). Plus it’s our first introduction to Luke Easter, who does a great job handling the vocals.
Vanishing Lessons might be the beginning of Tourniquet’s, brief, decline but it’s still a pretty killer record.