With Death by Admiration, Christian rock cornerstone Seventh Day Slumber is delivering a combination sucker punch of pain and healing on their hardest-hitting album yet.
Seventh Day Slumber's 13th studio release was produced by Kellen McGregor of Memphis May Fire, who worked in close collaboration with Joseph Rojas (vocals), Blaise Rojas (drums), Weston Evans (guitar) and Ken Reed (bass). Legendary audio engineer Brad Blackwood (Demon Hunter) mastered the project. The band drew on additional cowriting support from Josiah Prince (Disciple), Tyler "Telle" Smith (The Word Alive) and Miguel "Miggy" Sanchez (Relent). As a result, Death by Admiration is a collection of 10 songs that elevates Seventh Day Slumber's established sound to a brand new intensity, rich with searing guitar riffs and scorchingly authentic lyrics.
"Death by Admiration is about a difficult time in my life," frontman Joseph Rojas shares. "A lot of people look up to me, and a lot of people come to me for help. But I'd poured out so much, and I wasn't getting poured back into. I ended up becoming an alcoholic. I was so afraid to let anyone down, because of their admiration for me. It was killing me not to share."
Ultimately, Joseph was restored from the dangerous edge of death by the faithfulness of God, who answered the prayers of his wife, Lori. That experience still feels near, a bridge between his own life and everyone else who is suffering alone. That's the connection created by the title track "Death by Admiration," a growling confessional cowritten with Telle of The Word Alive: "Afraid to be with me myself and I sometimes / Get lost in the chaos of my mind / I don't want to lie to you, but it's all I do."
That rawness permeates every song on the album. Fans have already had a taste of that with lead single "What I've Become," an aching profession of self-destructive tendencies. "Fatal Love" acknowledges the deadly consequences of any kind of addiction as it skids through a dark and heavy soundscape. "Solemn Oath" is a song of betrayal carried by some of the grungiest riffs Seventh Day Slumber has ever produced, courtesy of former Seventh Day Slumber guitarist and frequent studio collaborator Jeremy Holderfield.
Death by Admiration pulls no punches, continually refusing to back away from the hardest things we experience in life. "Halos" addresses the deep regret we can be left with after the loss of someone we love, written from a deeply personal experience guitarist Weston Evans had when one of the band's most faithful supporters suddenly passed away. "Snake Mouth" (featuring Miggy from Relent) is a scathing indictment of the self-righteous, spitting, "You talk about the Savior / But close the door that leads to Him."
But in typical Seventh Day Slumber fashion, the heaviness of these tracks is carried by unshakable hope. "Light the Way" is a power anthem infused with the soul-stirring desire that Joseph describes as "wanting to live for God, even if you don't know exactly how." 'Landmines" affirms the truth that if God is for us, it does not matter who stands against us.
"Can't Say Sorry Enough" ends the album on a note of gentle gratitude. Joseph and Blaise Rojas wrote the song with Josiah Prince, a tribute to Joseph's wife, Lori. "After 22 years of marriage and all that I've done, she still wants to be close to me. I know that God heard her prayers: He healed me," Joseph recalls.
Each of these songs feels like signature Seventh Day Slumber while simultaneously introducing a fresh edge of urgency. The freshness comes in part through the rising influence of Blaise Rojas, Joseph Rojas's oldest son, who has been drumming for the band since he was just 13 years old. Although the bulk of the lyric writing still fell to Joseph, when it came to the music, he drew on support from the younger Rojas. "Blaise wrote about 70% of the melodies. This record stretched me. Vocally, it's a lot of really cool things that Blaise did, and totally different than what I'm used to," Joseph admits. "It was awesome to have Blaise writing alongside me."
The result is a work that the band is immensely proud of, proof that after over two decades, Seventh Day Slumber is still capable of pushing the boundaries of what they can become. Joseph credits some of that success to Kellen McGregor, who has quickly become one of the most sought-after creators in hard rock: "Working with Kellen was honestly everything that I hoped for and more. It brought out so much creativity that I didn't know I had."
That willingness to keep pushing creatively is part of what has made Seventh Day Slumber one of the most enduring bands in Christian rock. With accolades including Dove Awards, two Billboard #1 albums and a slew of top 10 radio hits, the band has more than proved their staying power. Seventh Day Slumber has also been an innovator in the touring space, consistently focused on creating affordable models for promoters to bring their hope-filled concerts to as many corners of the world as possible. That ethic has created a fanbase full of listeners whose lives have been changed through encountering the message of God's love. Seventh Day Slumber also helms Rockfest Records, the flagship Christian rock label that they founded.
Death by Admiration introduces a new era of Seventh Day Slumber with renewed urgency and transparency. The musical innovation speaks to the caliber of the musicians involved. The deeply personal lyrics speak to the way the band has always invited honesty from their listeners: by sharing their own story first.
"When God healed me from the alcohol addiction, I told myself that I will never make the mistake of forgetting my pain," Joseph says earnestly. "I'm speaking to you, saying: 'I overcame this. You can too.'"
Christian rock| Posted October 31, 2011
It's such a blessing to hear a Christian rock band with lyrics that identify with their faith. Many don't anymore and I miss that. God bless you guys and your ministry!!