Back in the early ’90s, as I was making my first forays into the world of Christian alternative music, it’s safe to say that my absolute favorite band at the time was Mortal. The duo of Jyro and Jerome mixed industrial samples and rhythms, metal riffs, and poetic lyrics into a potent blend, and suffice to say, I was pretty obsessed with them.
Given that this was pre-World Wide Web, though, following your favorite bands was a good deal more difficult. You had to rely on magazines like Heaven’s Metal, 7ball, and True Tunes News, updates from Christian bookstore employees (if you were fortunate enough to know an employee who shared your musical tastes), and of course, rumor and hearsay.
So when a friend told me that Mortal had a new project, but that it wasn’t a typical Mortal album, I couldn’t help myself. Some kids begged their parents to take them to the mall so they could hit up Gadzooks, Structure, or the food court; I begged my parents to take me to the Family Christian bookstore (or was it Lemstone?) to buy what turned out to be Invincible by Jyradelix, a collaboration between Mortal and another duo, Johann Fontamillas and Wilson Peralta (aka the Psycho-Lizards). What’s more, it found Jyro and Jerome exchanging the dark, intense sounds of Mortal for something far more club-friendly, influenced by trance and house music à la 808 State, The Shamen, and Sunscreem.
Which shouldn’t be a surprise given that Invincible was released on Myx Records, a label created by arguably the most influential and famous Christian DJ, Scott Blackwell, and home to other electronic artists like The Echoing Green, Deitiphobia, and Raving Loonatics (as well as Christian hip-hop outfits like the Gospel Gangstas).
Listening to Invincible now, though, its most interesting song is “Invincible (Lift Mix),” but mainly because it’s the one that sounds the most like traditional Mortal, thanks to some Lusis-esque buzzsaw guitars and Jyro’s inimitable vocals and lyrics. But “Psycho-Lizards (Sane Mix)” comes in close with a high-energy piano line and playfully wistful synth melody that weave together and wind their way through the song’s final minutes.
There are also some moments where Invincible gets sober, and dare I say, even subversive. “Four 29 – 92” and “Repercussions” feature samples related to the 1992 Los Angeles riots set against hazy guitars and eerie synths, turning them into strange fever dreams moreso than anything a DJ would spin at your local rave. Later, “Mysteria (Babylon Mix)” samples an old British preacher railing about our culpability in Christ’s crucifixion (e.g., “Calvary still stands, and you and I erect the cross again and again”) — which is sure to be a bit of a downer on the dancefloor.
In all honesty, though, Invincible is mostly disposable rave fluff chock full of orchestral stabs, airy synths, acid-inspired grooves, and uplifting chants (e.g., “If God is love then love is God/And He’s invincible,” “Take my life, make me whole/Take me out of the devil’s hold”) sure to get your youth group’s dance party pumped up. And for crying out loud, there’s even a song called “Ol’ McRave” that — you guessed it — sets the classic nursery rhyme to a dance house rhythm.
Ultimately, I can’t deny that nostalgia plays a big role in why I still listen to Invincible nowadays. All fluff and cheesiness aside, it’s a small reminder of what it was like to discover that Christian music was so much bigger and more varied than conservative Christian culture had, willfully or no, led me to believe. (And interestingly, Invincible was actually quite the hit with my youth group for a few weeks, especially when compared to most of the music that my friends and I listened to, like Mortal.)
After Invincible’s release, Jyro and Jerome would return to Mortal and release what was arguably their masterpiece, 1993’s Fathom. As for Johann Fontamillas and Wilson Peralta, they would release a couple of albums under the Mindbender and Erin Fall monikers before disappearing in the late ’90s (if Discogs.com is to be believed, that is), leaving Invincible as a one-off project that, all nostalgia aside, probably works best as a curiosity piece compared to the rest of the Mortal discography.