Rusty Shipp is fronted by Russ T. Shipp (yes, that is his real name). He is a lover of rock and roll and a creative song writer. Liquid Exorcist is a concept album that is heavily influenced by OPERATION LIQUID EXORCIST: In 1948, after a sudden string of naval and civilian casualties, it came to the attention of the Coast Guard that sea mines had been laced throughout the ocean from an unknown source. The newly-formed CIA launched an immediate, covert operation to intercept this plan of attack and end its destruction. There are also two cover songs, "Show Me How To Live" by Audioslave (with very slight lyric modification), and "Navy Hymn", a traditional Navy hymn. There are also four short instrumentals spread throughout the album, resulting in four original songs total.
What it Sounds Like:
Rusty Shipp calls itself "Nautical Rock". This comes out sounding like the genres of post-grunge and alternative rock with occasional nautical-style sounds. Russ Shipp has a soothing voice that compliments the new sound well. The instrumental tracks match the theme of the album and hype up the songs that follow them.
This album does not seem to be purposely driven by faith but there are wise and biblical lessons we can learn from in some of the songs. The core message that each song seems to tell as a whole is one of peace, specifically, out of war. "Detonator" summarizes it well,
"Halt, put your weapons down, down underground
Until they can't be found anymore
It's a forgotten war, minefields on the shore, detonating long after the war's over
Whether it is war between individuals or between nations, much harm can still be inflicted, even long after the ceasefire, much like an old minefield. A message I appreciated hearing out of Liquid Exorcist is one that it tells us to put our weapons away, and to be wary of the dangers of waging war. "Navy Hymn" closes the album with a benediction,
Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm doth bind the restless wave
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
O, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea
Best Song on the Record:
"Detonator" is the best song, both in terms of lyrical writing and thematic climax. "Minesweeper" is an instrumental track before it, hyping it up. The transitions in the song are smooth and you feel immersed into the "Nautical Rock" theme that Rusty Shipp presents. "Detonator" is the best showcase of Rusty Shipp's Nautical Rock. You hear the reverb and clean guitar sweeps and before you know it, the great guitar solo in this song sweeps you away. This is a unique and creative song.
For Fans Of:
Anberlin, Thousand Foot Krutch, Switchfoot
Liquid Exorcist is a creative concept album that boasts passionate "nautical" rock and roll. Russ T. Shipp and his crew have evidently poured their hearts into this project and when you listen to the songs in order, it forms a memorable listening experience. Even though there is more filler, in regards to the multiple instrumental tracks, the original songs are well-crafted. The cover from Audioslave is respectfully well-done. The attention on this album is well-deserved.
The Evening Hate EP Review | Posted October-31-2019 What You Need To Know:
RED is a GRAMMY® nominated, RIAA Certified Gold-selling rock band. They have released their first independent music creation, The Evening Hate EP via RED ENTERTAINMENT / The Fuel Music to digital outlets worldwide. RED is currently a trio, with Michael Barnes on vocals, and the Anthony brothers, Randy and Anthony. After a successful GoFundMe campaign to raise money for their independent debut, they announced this EP before the full-length drops in 2020.
What it Sounds Like:
RED has a unique melodic metal sound to their music. The more melodic RED's music is, the more popular it becomes. Fans love Innocence and Instinct as well as Of Beauty and Rage for their significant melodic elements complementing their relatable and honest lyrics. This EP brings two new songs, one acoustic cover, and two acoustic versions of said new songs. This includes "The Evening Hate," "From The Ashes," and the cover song "Hemorrhage (In my hands)," by Fuel. The acoustic songs are beautifully well-done and show that the band has plenty to offer, both in terms of their heavy songs and the ballads.
"'From The Ashes" reflects on where our minds can go when we've hit the bottom," says RED bassist Randy Armstrong. "You've been written off, left out in the cold because the world doesn't care about your situation and nothing in the past matters much today. It's about having the motivation to rise and turn your failure and mistakes into success and survival."
"'The Evening Hate' dives into the deep-seated hatred that everyone has felt at some point or another," Randy also shares, "as the band borrows the song's title from the nickname coined by World War I frontline trench soldiers in 1915 regarding the relentless enemy bombing. While we all experience or witness hate throughout life, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, we all have the ability to crawl out and rise above such a tremendous adversary, hell-bent on division and destruction. Without hate, the world would never know what true love really is."
Best Song on the Record:
"From The Ashes" is the best of the two heavier songs. There are great moments where each band member shines, whether musically and vocally. The lyrics are well-written as well. The message of the song reaches out to those feeling defeated and encourages them to rise up and never give up. This is a message everyone needs to hear. It is one that RED is no stranger to themselves. Of the three acoustic songs, "The Evening Hate" is superior. Listening to this version of the song exposes the emotionally charged lyrics of the song. The vocals are nearly haunting, similar to "Shadow and Soul" or "Of These Chains" from Of Beauty and Rage. Listening to this song is a truly captivating experience. "Hemorrhage" is a great cover, both in the stripped-down musical aspect and Michael Barnes' gripping vocals.
The Evening Hate EP is a skillfully created showcase of RED's strengths. This EP gives me hope that the future of RED's music is going to be strong. RED gives us two heavy hitters, a cover song (which is not new territory for them), and two ballads. Even though three out of five songs are acoustic, it shows they have the expertise to expose the emotional lyrics of a song to be the centerpiece. We will be optimistically awaiting the full album after this promising release.
Ten by Michael Sweet | Posted October-18-2019 What You Need To Know:
Michael Sweet is the lead singer and founder of the legendary band, Stryper. Michael has been producing solo albums outside of Stryper for around twenty years, improving more and more on each album. Tenis aptly named for being his tenth album, distributed through Rat Pak Records. This album has either a guest vocalist or guest instrumentalist on each song.
What it Sounds Like:
Ten throws flurries of guitar solos and rifts at you left and right, with a solo in every song, sometimes more than once. Ten showcases an impressive vocal range from Michael Sweet. His guest vocalists such as Mike Kerr from Firstbourne and Todd La Torre of Queensryche also give exceptional support. Michael's voice soars high and melodically, and digs deep down with gritty, raspier vocal ranges throughout the album. The sound overall is comparable to Stryper's newest couple albums, but definitely has Michael's own style in it. Ten is high energy rock and roll with one beautiful ballad, primarily.
Michael Sweet is unashamed and bold in what he believes in, whether it is about his faith in Christ, politics, or music in general. Concerning his guests on the album, he says, "As you all know, I push the envelope. I work with (and hang out with) people and peers who believe the polar opposite of what I believe, and we walk away with a smile and a hug. Not a screaming match of "I'm right and you're wrong." We're trying to show people that you can work together despite differences and the outcome can be amazing!"
Ten reflects Michael's hope of unity and love often. It has plenty of spiritual highlights. "Better Part of Me" speaks of the battle between the desires of the flesh versus the desires of the Spirit. "Now or Never" says, "Save me tonight, here and forever." It speaks of an urgent need for Salvation. Title track "Ten" is all about the Ten Commandments, almost word-for-word. "Son of Man" is about what you expect–Jesus, the Son of Man. Todd La Torre guests on this song. The song declares truths and excerpts from Revelation and the chorus screams, "He's the Son of Man, coming back again!"
Best Song on the Record:
My personal favorite is "Shine." This is one of the heaviest "happy songs" you will hear. The vocals are captivating, the music is electrifying, and the lyrics are empowering without being cheesy. Overall, though, "Son of Man" truly encompasses everything Michael Sweet was aiming for with this album, both musically, lyrically, and artistically.
Ten is a strong declaration that Michael Sweet is still an expert in the Christian rock scene. His expertise shines in this album throughout the whole listening experience. In a cliche, I would say this album turns it up to eleven. Musical expertise, empowering lyrics, and impressive vocals contribute to Ten as one of the best projects Michael Sweet has ever created. Take a listen and you will hear Michael's passion throughout each well-crafted song.
Love Letter Kill Shot by Disciple | Posted September-10-2019 What You Need To Know:
Disciple's twelfth album is released in full partnership through Tooth and Nail Records, entitled Love Letter Kill Shot. Despite a handful of line-up changes, the current lineup, consisting of Kevin Young (vocals), Josiah Prince (guitar), Joey West (drums), and Andrew Stanton (guitar), is their strongest yet. This new album showcases Disciple's signature strengths and mixes in fresh sounds. Anticipation for this album has grown greatly, thanks to their newfound street team, "Disciple Alliance" and their Patreon Community, "The Rebel Society."
What it Sounds Like:
Love Letter Kill Shot is an album that harkens back to Disciple's big hits while introducing new sounds, unlike any other Disciple album. Songs like "Reanimate" is a thrasher, "Play to Win" is a victory anthem, much like "Game On" or "Rise Up," and "Best Thing Ever" among several others, is a ballad full of surrender. Disciple takes up new territory, both musically and thematically, but nonetheless, the sound that Disciple has mastered over the last couple of years is still there throughout the whole album. If you are looking for a genre, this is a southern hard rock album with guitar solos, emotional vocals, and some modern rock twists.
Disciple is bold in its mission. Their mission is to share the Gospel and love people through the music God has given them. Kevin Young explains this well, if you ever make it to a concert, you should know he will be unashamed in his love for Christ and their lyrics show it well. "Reanimate" takes a unique perspective of Jesus taking up the sins of mankind, with a bridge that proclaims the Biblical truth of "He who knew no sin has become sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21). "Fire Away" begins with the album title in the beginning, "Your love letter's a kill shot, tearing through my soul till nothing's left." It challenges us to say, "If my heart is the target, fire away." Only a full surrender will suffice for Jesus. Thematically, this album tackles suffering, hopelessness, addiction, pain, and internal struggles. Whether the songs give words to our suffering or offer hope and a way out, each song has an audience it can reach.
Best Song on the Record:
There are a few stand-out songs depending on what aspect of the album you are considering. "Never Too Late" is a great song overall. It showcases the familiarity of Disciple's music that fans know as well as the inventive styles of the new album. It is gritty and emotionally charged. You can hear every band member shine in this song at different points as well.
For Fans Of:
Decyfer Down, Demon Hunter, Skillet
Love Letter Kill Shot is a masterfully crafted album that delves into the depths of our spiritual journey. Disciple displays diverse thematic and musical prowess in this new album. It is a heavy album, in almost every definition of the word. Despite making over a dozen albums with some huge hits, Love Letter Kill Shot is a powerful, inventive album that must not go unnoticed.
Void by War of Ages | Posted August-29-2019 What You Need To Know:
War of Ages' musical influence in the Christian metal scene is both consistent and aggressive. Their lyrics are convicting and encouraging as they expertly draw out Biblical truths out of life's questions and situations. Void is no exception. This is their ninth album and was primarily produced by their guitarist, Jack Daniels at Sicktones Studios, as well as Facedown Records, their long-time label. Void is full of heavy metal goodness without a single ballad.
What It Sounds Like:
Any fans of War of Ages already know what to expect. You'll find gang vocals, sweeping guitar solos, double kick drums, and a couple of spoken word sections in the songs. Oh, and lots of screaming. Yet, amongst the signature War of Ages sound, you hear a great variety of styles. The album keeps your attention the whole time. They do not slow down, in fact, the second half of the album is arguably the heavier half. The lyrics condemn sin, convict listeners and encourage.
War of Ages is by no means shy in their faith-based lyrical writing. "Void," "Miles Apart," "Brotherhood" and "The Return" each have evident support in Scripture, primarily in the books of Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, and Revelation respectively. Condemnation of sin is a theme as well. In "Greed," you find warnings against a lifestyle of greed as it's called out and also bears a hopeful message. The chorus says, "I will rise and be somebody. Who will rise and meet you there. I know that you are able.""Envy," "Wrath," and "Jezebel" are respectively condemning topics of envy, wrath, and lust. War of Ages is bold in proclaiming that these sinful lifestyles are destructive and need to be avoided. They balance encouragement and condemnation in their lyrics well.
Best Song On The Album:
Showcasing the two main themes of Void, "Wrath" and "Miles Apart" are the top two songs. "Wrath" is the most aggressive and thrashy song on the album, boasting a flurry of guitar riffs, gang vocals to scream the truth aloud, and to top it off, it is the only track without clean vocals. It condemns violence and warns to keep your heart clean. "Miles Apart" on the other hand, is a desperate cry to the Lord to be your Savior and encourages listeners to "find strength through the suffering."
For Fans Of:
Sleeping Giant, Demon Hunter, For Today
Void is eleven songs of well-made, aggressive metal that reserves no room for sugarcoating the truth. They make it clear that sin has no place in our hearts and minds, for it brings destruction and death. They make it clear that Jesus is the only absolute for us. Void will go down as one of War of Ages' best albums and its messages should never return void.
Tension by Random Hero | Posted August-11-2019 What You Need To Know
Random Hero has been active in the Christian rock scene for about a decade now with three albums released. They have appeared on the City Rockfest Tour several times and every year, they've been able to perform and open up for many rock veterans while playing in a variety of festivals, including Christmas Rock Night in Germany. Random Hero is comprised of Aaron Watkins (vocals), Rob "Los" McDonough (bass) and Patrick Madsen (drums). Since the Denver-based band's debut, they have earned numerous Top 5 Christian rock singles, including "Mirror Mirror," "Not Alone," "Burn Up the Night" and "Mercy," in addition to the Top 30 mainstream rock hits "Impossible" and "Running." With their fourth release, Tension, releasing on Rockfest Records, they have promised fans through a few short videos that this album changes everything.
What It Sounds Like
Rockfest Records continue to collect an impressive roster of groups and Random Hero may be their biggest breakout yet. Vibrant rifts, strong hooks, and melodic choruses strengthen this album on top of its honest and hopeful lyrics. There are notably less unclean vocals as there was on their last album, The Covering, while the lyrical content has improved. The album's tracks are mostly heavy with just two ballads.
Several lyrics directly address our need for the Lord to help us when life is hard. A lot of the lyrics are also formed in questions, which challenge and grip the listeners. "Desperate Measures'" chorus says, "Oh, Lord, please save my soul" and "Motivation's" bridge declares, "though my sins cut to the bone, I still testify." The title track, "Tension," challenges the listeners to stop living complacently saying, "Lack of motivation making me complacent in my damnation" and "Waging my salvation just to make a statement; I'm not okay with this." Additionally, the finale "White Flag" is a soaring anthem of absolute submission to God, drawing Tension to a fitting close. The songwriting is superb throughout this album and is a great improvement off of The Covering's success.
Best Song on the Record
"Weight Of The World" is an aggressive song that highlights the dangers of taking on too much of life by yourself. An attention-grabbing intro, gripping lyrics and energetic rock and roll make this song a dynamic standout on the album. An honorable mention is the closing track, "White Flag," which is a vulnerable song of full surrender to God with a bold chorus.
Random Hero has produced an album that belongs in your rotation just as much as long-time veterans Disciple or Skillet. Topping this album will be tough, yet I am very excited to hear what is next from them, and so will you after hearing this. Tension is a fantastic rock album that will leave you feeling empowered and hopeful through whatever difficulties are going on in your life.
Falcone Rising Review | Posted July-29-2019 What You Need To Know
John Falcone is a successful and experienced surgeon who discovered that his passion for music can be combined with his recently found faith in Christ. Every song is associated with scripture that served as the main inspiration behind the songs. Though most of the tracks on this debut album are very centered on Christ, a few songs are romantic, towards his wife. He is an independent artist who worked withCreative Soul Records founder Eric Copeland to find a band to record this album with.
What It Sounds Like
Slap some traditional Gospel music lyrics on 80's or 90's rock and roll and you got yourself Falcone Rising's style of rock. It has guitar solos and melodic hooks a plenty. "The Sixth Hour Ballad of St. Dismas" not only shares a similar name as Disciple's "Ballad of St. Augustine," but it also sounds similar. The softer songs on the album sound like Stryper's earlier ballads.
Spiritual highlights are all over the place, and that is good! The scriptural references are provided by Falcone on his website, so I attached them with the song names below. Some have some creative interpretations on them while remaining accurate. The lyrics are all encouraging and will be familiar with Believers. There are some contrasting lines between some struggles and sin issues that are brought to Biblical answers.
It is a close call between "The Sixth Hour Ballad of St. Dismas" and "I Never Knew You." Both stand out significantly in both lyrical style and musical prowess. "I Never Knew You" wins it in the end for me. I like the creative exploration of the end times via Matthew 7:13-23, in the eyes of the cast away.
For Fans Of
Disciple, (early) Kutless, DaysEye
Falcone Rising could very possibly be a rising star in Christian-based rock. The music is impressive and some creative lyric writing is evident. Fewer love songs and more creative lyric writing might be a step of improvement for Falcone to find his way to larger audiences if that be his goal. Either way, there are some unique aspects to this album that you should check out, and you can be encouraged by the lyrics along the way.
Eclipse by Wolves at the Gate | Posted July-14-2019 What You Need To Know:
Wolves at the Gate is a post-hardcore band based out of Columbus, Ohio who have been signed to Solid State Records. Since 2008, they have been easily identified through their signature lyrical style. They have been very upfront and direct with their Christian faith through their lyrics combined with aggressive music. Eclipse is their new album, which they produced themselves, and which also features two guitarists consistently - both new changes.
What It Sounds Like:
One of the first descriptions I came up with when I discovered Wolves At The Gate was "if Disciple went post-hardcore, this would be a close fit." Minus the southern influence, of course. Nick Detty has more clean vocals mixed in and a majority of the songs have softer verses while having the bigger choruses. Strong screams, truly gripping lyrics, and great melody between Stephen Cobucci on cleans and Nick Detty on unclean solidify this album as some of Wolves at the Gate's best work!
Romans 1:16 seems to drive "Response," with staying unashamed of the Gospel while trying to share it with others who may be hesitant being a main theme. Matthew 22:22-23 tells of Peter walking on water toward the Lord, and "The Sea in Between" is based around the theme of being in the waves with God singing "Will you carry me across and redeem what I have lost?" and"The waves they crashed upon Your frame You suffered all my loss. This rescue came with suffering completely at Your cost.""A Voice In The Wilderness" has similar sound and lyrics that "Relief"and "Dead Man"have from previous albums. Altogether, the songs almost all have a direct focus on God's help in our time of need and trials.
Best Song On The Album:
"Response" is a heart-touching and passionate song about telling others of the Gospel. "I'm not tricking you; I'm not selling truth / I just want you to hear of this matchless love! I'm not selling you lies, just a beggar who has found favor." Every believer who has tried to share their faith to a resistant heart will resonate with this song, and perhaps, even connect with the aggressiveness and passion of the song. We want nothing more than for others to receive God's perfect love.
Eclipse is a great step forward in musical production for Wolves at the Gate. Fans of their older music will find that the lyrics are not directed to God as directly, though they are still often clear enough to be faith-driven. If you are struggling in your faith or going through some rough times, the messages in these songs should encourage you and remind you of what to do. It tells one major story in a myriad of ways: don't let what's real be hidden by darkness.
In the Dark review | Posted July-10-2019 What You Need To Know:
Silversyde is a female-fronted hard rock band from across the U.S. Their music aims to find hope in the worst of life's circumstances. The bass-thumping rock helps deliver a strong message of hope, healing, and help by relying on the Lord and His love. They released SILVERSYDE with a mission of helping people find "Hope, Eternity, Love and Purity" (how they define HELP) through passionate, honest, and hopeful lyrics. They released their first album, Circus Circus in 2011 independently and most recently dropped a 6-song EP, Casting Shadows, in 2015. In The Dark is their first full-length album through a major label, Rockfest Records.
What It Sounds Like:
In the Dark is an album that should fit right in with any rock fan's library. The overall sound of the album is not surprising, as you find your typical rock and roll elements. With a familiar sound, SILVERSYDE mixes in their messages of hope and God's love. Only a handful of screams are found on the whole album, most notably on "Hope On The Horizon." There is a guest vocalist on "Maelene's Song," and most of the songs have either a faded intro or a long instrumental intro. The song "Sleepwalking" has a very strong Fireflight sound to it.
Faith-driven lyrics make it easy to see the spiritual battles that Silversyde write about. Isaiah 41:10's message is one that resounds throughout several songs. During "Maelene's Song," a line says "dont give up, I hold your tears", reminding us of Psalm 56:8, Psalm 147:3, and John 16:20. The Lord promises to care for us, He notices our tears, and will turn them from tears of sadness to shouts of joy. Bringing beauty from ashes is something that God promises to do. It might not be our timing and we must be patient, but this is a message that SILVERSYDE sends well.
Best Song On the Album:
A culmination of the lyrical style, the scream at the end of the song, and the melody of Laura's singing synced with the thumping of the bass makes "Hope on the Horizon" the best song on the album. The chorus has a catchy rhyming and the message is simple and hopeful. "It's my last chance, last breath and it's all gonna be alright." It's a step better than the rest overall.
Silversyde can slide right into mainstream rock with their quality, yet familiar sound of rock and roll. That's great, because they will leave a hopeful message of love, even in the darkest of life's moments. Believers will find encouragement through the album, and hopefully the unsaved will find true hope in Jesus through the music.
For We Are Not Yet, We Are Only Becoming | Posted July-07-2019 What You Need To Know:
Comrades is a trio from Colorado that started out as an instrumental post-rock band. After signing to Facedown Records, they released their first LP, Lone/Grey, which they recorded at Dark Studios. Dark Studios is known as the place where Underoath and The Chariot recorded a lot of their music. Laura McElroy provides clean vocals, her husband Joseph plays guitar, while Ben Trussell provides unclean vocals and drums. For We Are Not Yet, We Are Only Becoming is their second LP released through Facedown Records.
What It Sounds Like:
It does not sound like what you would expect from most post-hardcore, or even in broader terms, metal bands. Ben's screams sound similar to most bands on Facedown Records, which may be a highlight or a letdown depending on your preference. With Laura on clean vocals, there is a beautifully balanced harmony between her and Ben throughout each song. The songs typically slow down for Laura's vocals and amp back up for Ben's. Sometimes it is the opposite, which definitely helps keep your attention.
1 John 3:2 and Philippians 3:12 come to mind when looking at the title of the album. There are clear messages of the hope and salvation that Christ brings. "When you feel like giving up, there is room in this house for you" speaks of the always open arms of Jesus in "Fault Lines.""This is not the end, but how we began" speaks of the start of our forever life with Christ beginning with the end of ourselves. "Every veil and mountain, you'll find me in. This you can depend on, over and over and over and over again" reminds us that when things are hard or easy, God is always there. The song, "No Past" directly addresses God and discusses life's situations in an honest and approachable manner.
"Fault Lines" is the best song overall. It opens the album very well and sets the theme for the album's messages, and demonstrates signature Comrades sound and lyrical style. Ben is backed by crashing cymbals and deep bass while Laura is backed with melody and soft music. The lyrics speak the truth and are relatable. This song is the complete package for Comrades fans, and hopefully can win over new fans.
Christian-based Post-Hardcore is not a fast-growing genre by any means, but when a release like this comes out, it begs the question, why not? Comrades demonstrate growth from their last album in both musical and lyrical style. They remain consistent in their signature sound, and let's hope it stays that way because it is a unique voice in this genre of music!