Seventh Day Slumber originally made a name for themselves in the Christian hard rock subgenre, building a foundation grounded in solid rock riffs and lead singer Joseph Rojas’s incredible ability to speak and write songs birthed out of his own struggle and testimony. In 2009 they took a step sideways, recording an album with a worship focus (Take Everything) while still infusing it with their rock sensibilities. Now, two years later, the Dallas-based band is back with an album that fuses the worship and hard rock genres into a new powerhouse sound.
The Anthem of Angels kicks off with songs affirming God’s faithfulness in the midst of struggle. “Wasted Life” is a testimony to God’s ability to take people as they are and rescue them from the midst of wasted lives. This song and the next, “Love Came Down” (the corporate worship song by Bethel Music’s Brian Johnson), are both carried on a strong backbone of Jeremy Holderfield’s solid guitar work.
“One Mistake” and “Addicted to My Pain” are both songs of struggle, reminiscent of classic Seventh Day Slumber material. Both have very well crafted acoustic introductions that drop into the main riffs of the song. “One Mistake” is an honest song written from a place of fear that God will walk away. “Addicted to My Pain” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. If this is an album of anthems, this is an anthem of painful self-examination.
These songs are followed by “Never Too Far Gone,” a song that could be an answer from a friend watching the speaker of “Addicted to My Pain.” The song is a call to action, to overcome the feelings of hopelessness when “you’re drowning out your tomorrows and the melody of pain is on replay.” The guitars here are gritty, crunching behind Joseph Rojas’s earnest vocals.
The fitting follow-up tracks are “Pieces” and “Crash,” both of which are tracks that cry for God to come as the only Healer. In the progression of the album, it feels like we would flip the record here if this was vinyl. Thematically the album changes as it begins looking up.
Towards the end of the album we are given a glimpse into Joseph Rojas’ own testimony. As a former cocaine addict and a convicted felon, Rojas definitely has credibility when he sings out “You make me feel like I belong, You give me strength to carry on. And I feel so alive since that part of me died.”
The album wraps up with Seventh Day Slumber’s take on John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves.” Although they tread very well-traveled ground here, they definitely bring a new flavor to the table with the heavy drum work, soaring background vocals, and their own twist on the bridge (“Heaven meets earth like the very first kiss”).
The genre of worship music can often present a more or less closed door to hard rock artists, but Seventh Day Slumber doesn’t just knock on that door; they knock it down and invite their fanbase in with them. The Anthem of Angels is an album of searching, of honesty, and of worship. The seamless blending of their gritty roots and heartfelt worship lyrics is a feat few bands have accomplished. This album is well worth looking into for fans of either worship or harder rock.