Songs: "The Harvest," "The Father's Bargain," "Weary Ground," "The Cure," and "History"
Wolves At The Gate is a band whose aggressive music attracts many different listeners. Lead vocalist Steve Cobucci describes the band's music as impactful. He wants to write music that has a powerful impact on people's lives (Oh yeah, he wants to make sure the music is good, too). I had the privilege to talk with Steve about the band's music and ministry, as well as songs from the band's recently released fourth studio album, Eclipse.
Some of your non-Christian fans feel divided on listening to your music, because of its Christian-based lyrics. How do you handle those fans and comments?
Those fans would be the same fans who would call us hypocrites. All I'm trying to do is to give people an opportunity to have an open mind and open eyes to the reality of a God who loves people who have sinned against him. And so, yeah, when people are bothered by it, I understand it. It doesn't bother me.
The division between faith and heavy music is common. So, it's nice to hear Steve's viewpoint on it.
1. The Harvest
The message is driven from Matthew 9:35-38 that teaches that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. We learn that the harvest is the Gospel. And, the workers are believers: the ones God calls upon to share the Gospel with others.
Steve adds, "This is a call for others to see the value and importance of telling other people about the Gospel. It's a shame that people who've been shown a great grace, seeing God's love for them, don't tell others about it."
There's a challenge in this song for believers. Often, we blame our lack of boldness, or other reasons, for not sharing the Gospel with others. Steve offers a different perspective: "It's not an issue of boldness, there are lots of bold people. But boldness, in the Christian faith, should come from love, and not necessarily purely just love for other people, but actually primarily for God. I think people's greatest problem generally is lacking in love for the God who saved them rather than having love for other people because love for God is where all other love stems from because he is love." My challenge for you, then, is this: What excuses have you been using to put off truly sharing the Gospel with those around you? The lyrics in the song state, "There is a famine of truth and love." We cannot wait any longer. The harvest is ready.
2. The Father's Bargain
"The Father's Bargain," from the album XvX, is arguably one of the band's most creative songs. The lyrics are fable-like, written in a storytelling style. It's partially based on a writing titled "A Conversation Between God the Father and Son" by John Flavel, a Puritan preacher. "The Father's Bargain" is probably and will be one of my favorite songs I've ever written, as long as the band exists because I think the song does everything that I've always wanted a number of my songs to collectively do, which is just simply helping people understand what the Gospel is."
With this song, we receive a tool to help us better understand the lengths that God went to in order to show us His undeserved love. Steve says, "Yes, I bear His image, but the problem is that we mar that image of who He is by rejecting Him, practically in every way." For anyone reading who perhaps has never heard a clear explanation of what the Gospel is, please listen to this song. Maybe your view of God has been messed up because of interactions with churches or experiences with Christians, instead let the music speak. Or, if you are a Christian struggling to witness to a friend, try sending them this song and ask them to listen to it carefully. I personally believe the theology in the song is justified in the creative liberties, but it is not Scripture. Be sure to also read the Gospels in the Bible to fully understand what Jesus did for us.
3. Weary Ground
As Christians, we ought to be a example to those around us in times of trouble. We have an everlasting hope that should give us comfort and confidence to continue living in such a cursed world as ours is. We have a longing for Christ to return at any time, to set things right and to rescue us. Steve wrote "Weary Ground", from the album Types and Shadows with this in mind. Steve explains his vision for the song with, "You know if I was to make a music video for this song, it would literally just be news footage of natural disasters that go on in this world because the world is fallen and deteriorating. It's just in perpetual entropy. And I would show news footage of the evil things that we do to each other."
The song challenges our compassion for the world and the people within it. Consider Steve's thoughts, "I think it'd be a lot easier to be numbed to these things. I think if I was an unbeliever, not saying that all unbelievers are, but I know for myself, I'd be really apathetic towards these things. But it's because of God's work in my heart that it pains me to see these things, not solely because of how it affects other people but because this is the state of our world." I challenge you, and myself, to boldly pray to God and ask for Him to open up our hearts and eyes to the people in need of love around us. Maybe you already have someone in mind. Either way, act upon them in compassion and love to give them hope in this cursed and broken world.
4. The Cure
The opening track off of the band's newest album, Eclipse, is this song, "The Cure." This song does a great job of exemplifying the mature sound that Wolves At The Gate grew into with the album. It showcases their ability to mix melody in with the aggressiveness of the music. When I asked Steve about the songwriting process behind it, he told me that he wrote this song for their screaming vocalist, Nick, a process he has done previously. They wanted to write a song that addresses a tough decision we all have to make in our lives when it comes to overcoming our struggles.
Steve says, "So often the things that we most need are the things that we most avoid." That is where the chorus comes in with "I can taste the misery, spitting out the remedy." Whether it be an addiction, a bad habit, or a purposely harmful behavior that we do, there is a remedy to each of these miseries. The cure for these struggles in our life is often a difficult decision, one that we would rather avoid. Steve compares it to a kid who does not want to take his medicine because it tastes bitter, even though it will heal them and they will feel better later. With our sin struggles, Steve says, "We try to make up for it we try to earn God's love and his favor. Though it may be bitter to face the reality of our need, there's a great remedy in that God is willing to meet our need." We usually know what we need to do or say to get better, but refuse to do it because of various excuses. Consider this: If you do not seek the cure for your struggle, it will only worsen with time. You will not be able to serve God as effectively with an undealt problem in your life.
The last song we specifically discussed with also from Eclipse titled "History." This song has several layers of meaning to it, which is great and showcases Steve's songwriting skill. You might listen and hear a message aimed at political situations, which is one of his purposes with it, but it goes deeper. The song asks the question, "Are we really free?" As Americans, we tout our freedom of our country, but does that mean we have free hearts and minds?
When asked about the song, Steve explained both the political and spiritual aspect of that question. He says, "We look at some of the sins of our past as a nation, and think we're past those things but my question was, are we free? Are we free from those things? To think that we've like moved past the sins of our fathers is foolish. They just have a new name and a new face." We could learn a lot from this song, but one challenge I want to pull out addresses our tribality within the politics of America. Steve knows how divisive politics can be, he was a history major in college. Remember, an institution of man ultimately does not dictate what God does nor often act in accordance with what he desires. My challenge is to not let your political party or opinions dictate the way you love others, and do not confine God's people to one political party.
Ryan Adams is the rock reporter at NRT. He loves the rock and metal community and shares his passion for Jesus and heavy music through NRT.
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