It's been a few months since our last The Sound Option column, and it took a rather extraordinary band to pull me out of my hiatus.
As those who have been following this column know, The Sound Option isn't about finding Christian copycat bands, but really about finding the bands that understand the sounds of the times, and participate in those sounds with excellence. For instance, we don't recognize these bands because they sound like other bands, but really because when you hear the art of certain bands, you won't have a need for some of the secular stuff out there.
One of my favorite bands a few years back was the cinematic, epic, emotional big-rock sounds of 30 Seconds to Mars. The band, headed by the enigmatic and eccentric Jared Leto (yes, that Jared Leto, who was an actor most famously known for his role on My So-Called Life).
The word "anthem" is thrown around a lot in music journalism, but this band truly had produced anthems. And truly, when you're dealing with a successful Hollywood actor, of course you're going to not just hear music; you're going to feel the sonic drama of it all.
Songs like "From Yesterday", "The Kill", "Kings & Queens" and "This is War" all present rallying cries for "The Echelon"—that's the name of the band's very dedicated fan base. I loved what I was hearing, but what's important is really what's under the surface.
Although there's plenty to say about the band's use of occult symbology in their marketing and presentations, Leto's population control views, as well as the X-rated elements of their live show, I'd say the song "100 Suns" from the album This is War tells us all we need to know about their inspiration:
"I believe in nothing / not the end and not the start / I believe in nothing / Not the earth and not the stars/ I believe in nothing / Not the day and not the dark / I believe in nothing but the beating of our hearts / I believe in nothing / One hundred suns until we part / I believe in nothing / Not in sin and not in God."
As much as I loved the sounds of this band, and wanted to "redeem" their music with a Christlike worldview, it just didn't fit. And I was sad, because there wasn't a band out there in Christian music who was making that kind of big, epic, dramatic music.
So when I heard Everfound
's self-titled album last month for the first time, I was not only blown away, I was more grateful than I typically am for a good Christian album. This band of four Russian-born brothers is going where no Christian band has gone before.
Songs that immediately spoke to me as filling the dramatic rock void include "Unless," which is a song about needing God to fix all that we're helpless to fix in our lives; "Count the Stars," a song about keeping the perspective that God always has more for you, and a plan; and "What Love Means," the closing track that essentially presents the Gospel message of Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection. All the songs are good—and epic—it's just that these three would catch the ear of many members of The Echelon.
(It's worth noting that the song "Hallelujah" carries a definite vibe of The Killers, and "Take This City" carries a Brit-pop—Coldplay?—influence.)
The lyrics are nothing particularly new, thematically, but then again, the Gospel never gets old. Musically, though, resounding guitar riffs and electronic accents propel soaring, urgent choruses. It's the kind of music that you blare in the car, feeling like you can conquer the world (or that Jesus has done it for you)!
Everfound has many times cited 30 Seconds to Mars as one of their favorite bands, musically, with lead singer Nikita Odnoralov calling them "a huge influence." And their album's co-producer, Pete Kipley, is known for being a "huge" 30 Seconds to Mars fan.
Instead of hearing songs that declare "the age of man is over," like 30 Seconds to Mars does on "Kings & Queens," I love hearing from Everfound that "What we see is incomplete / And hope will keep you moving on / 'Cause this is just the start"—or instead of "I believe in nothing," hearing, "I don't believe I'm only dust / I don't believe I'm born to rust / I can't be living just to finally die."
From this writer's viewpoint, Everfound is one of the best things to happen to me musically in a long time. Get the epicness without the hopelessness!
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