Life From Death| Posted September 25, 2015
After over 20 years in the business of rock and roll and directly following a seismic shift in their lineup, 2014 saw Disciple setting out on the independent path with fan-funded album Attack. The greater degree of freedom along with the addition of new members from a variety of musical backgrounds breathed new creativity into the veteran act, proving to make Attack one of the strongest Disciple releases yet.
In fact, the songs written for Attack were so strong that not all of them fit on just one album. Enter Vultures, the six song EP scavenged from the best cuts that didn't make Attack.
Although the process behind assembling this EP might make it tempting to relegate Vultures to the category of your average b-sides release, that would be far from an accurate assessment. The songs collected here didn't make the original album cut for reasons of thematic variance alone; the quality is by no means less. Take heavy hitting highlight "Awakening," featuring gravelly riffs in the moody verses that give way to a soaring melody in a chorus revelling in a life that has collided with Jesus's redemption: "there's a reason I breathe / cause my heart is the beat to the song that You sing in my life."
A significant part of what sets these songs apart from recent Disciple releases is a darker tone, both musically and in lyrical themes. "Sayonara" and "Snooze" both deal with the process of cutting ties with the past and its harmful relationships and habits. Building from a searing riff and a solid beat backbone laid down by drummer Joey West, "Sayonara" offers the desperate cry "these chains remind me of who I was / this pain reminds me of who I was. / Oh God, can You save me from the things I've done?"
Although there's plenty of heavy material here to satisfy the headbangers and metal aficionados (see the dual guitar intro offered by guitarists Josiah Prince and Andrew Stanton on "More"), two softer tracks serve well to bring the emotionally raw tone that has made prior songs like "After the World" and "Invisible" resonate with listeners over the years.
"Bring the Dead to Life" highlights the writing input of recently departed bassist and vocalist Jason Wilkes as it paints a picture of a soul in the dark, crying for resurrection: "Let the grave burst open wide / cause I'm desperate to breathe tonight. / Lead me out of this cemetery." "Breaking Down" is one of the most stripped down tracks Disciple has ever released, beginning by showing a more vulnerable, dialed back vocal tone from Kevin Young layered over simple piano before building to a crescendo with the bridge's cry of desperate surrender.
The Vultures EP may just confirm what Attack had fans suspecting: this could be the strongest Disciple lineup yet. The tight set of six songs holds its own in both hard and softer territory, operating as a surprisingly coherent musical unit despite the fact that they were not written to be that way. Vultures is set apart from the spiritually empowering fight songs found on Attack by its brooding edge, drawing out the midnights of the soul in order to declare the presence of Christ's grace in even the darkest moments. This sets these songs as beacons both for rock listeners needing some new tunes and also for struggling souls who need the assurance that our worst moments will never be able to count God out.