One of Christian musicís premiere bands, Downhere, is scheduled to release their eagerly anticipated new studio album, On The Altar Of Love, August 23, 2011 on Centricity Music. The album once again teams the group with Grammy and Dove award-winning producer Mark Hiemermann (Michael W. Smith, Tait, Stacie Orrico). The new CD is a pop-driven project that offers a positive outlook for our future, while maintaining the integrity and artistry of Downhere. All songs on the CD were written by Jason Germain and Marc Martel.
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A Truly Special Album| Posted September 19, 2011
Downhere has flown under the radar of popular CCM music for a decade now. While not without their share of hits, they aren't the household name one would expect given the growing catalogue of critically acclaimed albums under their belt.
Downhere returns with their 5th regular studio release (excluding a number of in-between projects), 'On The Altar of Love,' again flying under the industry radar. And it's a shame too, as from start to finish, this is one of the best releases of Christian Pop/Rock to come out all year.
The album starts with less punch than previous releases, with the still inspiring "Only The Beginning." The album continues into the singles "Rest" and "Let Me Rediscover You." Both songs are soaring and uplifting and exactly the quality that we've come to expect from the band. Much of the album plays it safe within the band's established sound, but it sounds so good that there's nothing to criticize.
The band does shake it up with a few tracks. "Living The Dream" is a throwback to decades past, singing about seeing the value in our every day lives. "Seek" is a driving rock song with a haunting bridge. The title track is the band's most unique song yet, with a banjo and fiddle backing what amounts to a strong folky rock track.
Lyrically, the band is as insightful as ever, singing about thanking God for the good and bad in our lives, to Biblically inspired messages of love, forgiveness, and praise, to the aforementioned "thinking song" reminding people to not let their lives be darkened by lost worldly dreams.
The album closes with the beautiful "Reveal The Kingdom" that concludes with a brief Latin chant singing words from Isaiah.
All in all, not a second on this album fails to delight. After several listens, it's hard to find reasons why Downhere isn't the poster child for the CCM industry. They bring a sound that fits well within the established sound while still sounding fresh and innovative. They are the answer to everything plaguing the industry. Why they aren't more popular is anyone's guess.
Downhere [On The Altar Of Love]| Posted August 27, 2011
One of Christian music’s premier bands, Downhere, returns with their eagerly anticipated new fifth studio album, On The Altar Of Love on Centricity Music.As students of history, Downhere band members Jeremy, Jason, Marc and Glenn have come to recognize and appreciate the fact that their faith is not simply their own--but that it's part of a much larger communion of believers that stretches across cultures and thousands of years. The new album is a pop-driven project that offers a positive outlook for our future, while maintaining the integrity and artistry of Downhere, one of my all-time favorite bands. All songs on the album were written by Jason Germain and Marc Martel. “Let Me Rediscover You,” the first single from the album, was written by Marc Martel two weeks before Downhere entered the recording studio for On The Altar Of Love.
On The Altar Of Love is being described as one of the most “pop-friendly” albums that Downhere has recorded to date, with heartfelt lyrics that are a return to the core of Christianity. To me, that description is apt in describing that if you’ve enjoyed the band’s previous hit songs “The More,” “Here I Am,” “My Last Amen,” “Hope Is Rising” and “How Many Kings,” then you need to pick up this masterpiece immediately as every single song is catchy, engaging and loaded with Downhere’s signature gorgeous harmonies. If you aren’t familiar with this incredible band, this is a great primer. The album kicks-off with “Only The Beginning” which focuses on how our Christian walk of new life and continual mysteries always feels like a new beginning, blending Jason and Marc’s vocals perfectly and flows seamlessly into “Rest,” with a beautiful chorus, “Come to Me, all you tired and heavy laden, come to Me and I will give you rest” sung in the person of Jesus, similar to “Bleed For This Love” from Ending Is Beginning.“Let Me Rediscover You” is a surefire hit song and has become my personal worship anthem, similar in theme to “Here I Am” and “A Better Way”-both written by Jason, but this is Marc’s opus and is so sincere and engaging, you can’t help but be moved to cry out to God—“let me rediscover You, and by Your grace I’ll follow through, breathe in me a life anew, reveal to me the God I thought I knew, Jesus let me rediscover You.” This band just has a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually.
“For Life” has Jason at his best, belting out “Thank You for the open sky…Thank You for my dreams, dreams of poetry both tragic and beautiful, thank You for life,” wrapped around a hooky piano driven melody and is my new favorite Jason vocal as he takes me places musically and in prayer that reminds of “Unbelievable.” “Living The Dream” somewhat channels “My Last Amen” musically while the hard rocking “Seek” describes how God searches for us “like a kid with a crush” in order to make us whole. “Holy” is a congregational-friendly vertical worship anthem sung by Jason like “Here I Am,” and is loaded with biblical Truth. I can’t get enough of “For The Heartbreak,” which has Marc passionately singing “Thank You for the heartbreak, Thank You for the pain, Thank You for the sadness on the gloomy days of rain, Thank You that the hard days have a reason and rhyme, Thank You that the healing makes the beauty shine.” You just don’t hear that type of sincere prayer in most songs, and is what really puts this band in the same “gourmet” category as Jars of Clay for me. The title track “The Altar Of Love” says to lay down your possessions and obsessions with the profound lyrics—“Love will ask of you more than treasure/When you’re willing to trust/Blessing far outweighs the loss/When you lay it all at the altar of love.” The title track is the second to last song and includes an incredible blend musically of banjo, strings, guitar and has a kickin’ violin solo at the end of the song which will have you moving along in worship and is yet another incredible song. This 5 star masterpiece closes with a contemplative prayer, “Reveal The Kingdom,” which has Jason crying out to God “His life compels us to serve in love…may we live to reveal the unseen Kingdom, the glory of the new Son, wherever more His love imparts the Kingdom in our hearts, reveal the Kingdom..” The compelling ballad ends with a chant in Latin. Gorgeous.
Somehow Downhere just keeps finding ways to create their newest best album with each new release. This album for me harnesses the best of what I’ve come to love about this band, sing-able melodies, songs filled with biblical truth and some of the best vocal combinations in any genre. Marc Martel has accurately been compared to Freddie Mercury from Queen and stand-out tracks “Rest,” “Let Me Rediscover You,” ‘Living The Dream,” “For The Heartbreak,” and stellar title track “The Altar Of Love” bring out the best in Marc. Co-vocalist Jason Germain just continues to get better with “Only The Beginning,” “Turn This Around,” “Glory By The Way Of Shame,” “Holy,” “For Life” and stunning closing track “Reveal The Kingdom” all displaying Jason’s emotional songwriting and singing style. This is easily the most radio-friendly Downhere album and yet includes some of their most profound lyrics and every single song will have you singing along in praise and worship to our Savior. Don’t miss out on this gem, one of the absolute best albums of the year. All twelve songs are interesting, challenging and this is one of those profound listening experiences that you’ll want to experience again as soon as you’re finished.
A Sacrifice of Love| Posted August 22, 2011
Consistently demonstrating an innate ability to create music-based art that is timelessly relevant, identifiable with in its immediacy and overwhelmingly profound despite its apparent simplicity, Downhere offers up its latest creation On the Altar of Love. Much like previous projects, the band presents the listener with a collection of approachable and compelling acoustic-based pop/rock.
The album showcases the band’s strengths: the trademark seamless shared vocal transitions; mature, germane lyrics; as well as their signature musical underpinnings of guitar and piano. Every element comes together to produce enduring, hope-laced songs grafted to archetypal yet contemporary music. And while the tone of said music can be interpreted as playful & light-hearted, the delivery conveying the paradoxical reality of our flawed humanity coming into contact with perfect Holiness never lacks a sense of the utmost regard.
Whether is was Abel’s oblation prior to his death, the Levitical proscriptions for “unblemished sacrifices” or Christ’s own sinless atonement, in GOD’s eyes, placing something on HIS altar involves both a whole-hearted offering along with a gift that is the best one has to offer. Downhere is a group of guys that get this- their albums reflect a spirituality, ethos and character of the highest caliber expressed through talent, ability and dedication. On the Altar of Love is beyond a doubt, a sacrificial offering of love of the highest order.
Diamond in the rough| Posted August 26, 2011
In the crowded CCM market filled with fluff and superficial artists, there are few bands that stand the test of time (Steven Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Mark Schultz, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Mercyme) and few bands that stand out above the noise. Downhere is one of the bands that stand above the noise. Still one of the most underrated bands this side of the border, Downhere delivers another standout performace with "On the Altar of Love." One of my favorite lyrics of the CD is in the song "Glory By the Way of Shame:" She cheated on him twice/ but for fear she never told/ She finally confessed, before her heart ran cold/ With pain in his eyes, he walked out of the house and drove to town/ Bought her a white wedding dress/ Came home to her and danced/ To the song of forgiveness. Just amazing! Between Marc and Jason, Downhere possesses two of the most gifted songwriters in the business; profound, deep, thought-provoking, honest ("Let Me Rediscover You"), real, and authentic. "On the Altar of Love" is a showcase of how to reach people were they are and deliever the gospel through music ("Holy," "The Altar of Love," and "Reveal the Kingdom"). More so, on this album Jason and Marc's voices are finally in balanced and blended near perfection. As they said at Creation NE last year, this album was going to be a display of how they "found their voices," and how they have "found a perfect balance between Jason and [Marc]." That is so evident here as their interchanges and harmonies are spot on. Overall, this is a very enjoyable album and a great start to the unoffical fall release schedule.
Downhere| Posted August 09, 2011
I have always loved Downhere. This album has some good moments and some not so hot moments "Only the Beginning"... I still love the vocal trade off that they have going... some of the lyrics and song concepts are really overrated. BUT songs like "Let Me Rediscover You" and "Holy" are just beautiful. I love the playful feeling that they have with some of their music "Living the Dream".