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Let Go by Corey Let Go by Corey
If you have been reading TCMRB for any length of time then you have probably heard us mention Corey Kilgannon at some point....
Backdraft by Fallstar Backdraft by Fallstar
If there is one band that I am excited about right now it is Fallstar. Formerly of Come & Live Records, the band recently...
Lonesome Road by Chad Lonesome Road by Chad
The 21st century has brought with it many great things: iPhones, Silly Bands, twerking, imitation hipsters, microwaveable obesity in...

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August Burns Red: Rescue & Restore | Posted June-25-2013
August Burns Red is undoubtedly the face of Christian hardcore music today. The breakup of Underoath earlier this year and the current status of As I Lay Dying cemented ABR as today's biggest Christian metal band. Rescue & Restore, the band's fifth studio album (not counting last year's Christmas album), is quite possibly the band's most diverse and intriguing work to date. The 11 track album features a wide array of instruments - from the trumpet to the piano - something not oft done in the hardcore genre. I felt like for their last album, Leveler, they were kind of stuck in a rut of trying to maintain their old sound but yet wanting to experiment a little, which is why I was not a huge fan of the album. With Rescue & Restore, however, the band fully fleshed out their creative side and decided to try many things that make this album genre-defining and one of the this year's best albums.

The album opens with "Provisions," which I would describe as leaning more towards classic August Burns Red. The band decided to play it a little safe with the first track, but still showed off some off their handiwork very well with brutal vocals and intense breakdowns. The longest song on the record, "Treatment," follows in what may be the heaviest songs on the record. Every time Luhrs screams "Open the gates!" on the song I get shivers down my spine. The first two minutes of the song are gut-wrenching metal, but then the band pulled some creativity out of their hat and brought in an acoustic guitar and violin for the next minute. This contrast in the heaviness of the song with the melodic one-minute guitar/violin interlude was genius and adds another dimension to the song which would not have been attainable with the old August Burns Red.

Track three, "Spirit Breaker," is definitely one of the more melodic tracks on the record, making it a great follow-up to the very heavy "Treatment." The openness and vulnerability of the track was what first hit me when I listened to the song. One of my favorite lines on the song is when Luhrs says, "I hope to open my eyes to see this picture. I'm throwing it all away. I hope to open my eyes to see this moment that I should treasure forever." Then about three-quarters of the way through the song Luhrs speaks to his "dearest love," in a little spoken word piece. "Count It All As Lost" is another track which I would describe as being a little more classic ABR. Some of the guitar work reminds me of a few of their previous songs, but the vocals definitely feel a bit more intense - Luhrs seems much more urgent and passionate on this record.

"Sincerity," the shortest song on the record - clocking in at 3:18 - has some of the best gang vocals I have heard on a metal song in a long time, which paired with very intense breakdowns makes for a very strong track. "Creative Captivity" is another one of the more melodic tracks with the widest assortment of instruments I have ever heard on a metal song yet. The track also features one of my favorite lines from the album, which also happens to be where the album title comes from, "This is a cause worth fighting for. We will rescue and restore!" And the trumpet at the end of the song is well worth the price of the album alone. "Fault Line," the band's first single from Rescue & Restore, features some of the best guitar and drum work on the whole album. I love it when Luhrs screams, "Whisper your grief, scream your sorrow, proclaim your love. Just don't call me your hero!"

"Beauty in Tragedy" has quickly become my favorite track on the record. From the brutal breakdowns and instrumentals to the spoken word piece in the middle of the song to the incredibly honest lyrics, this song is the best piece of art on the album. The last lines of the song may be some of my favorite lyrics ever penned by the band. "Never surrender the dream you had for this world. To love. To forgive. To make something out of nothing!" The next track, "Animals," is easily highlighted by the drum work of Matthew Greiner. I have long said that Greiner is the best drummer today, and I believe this track easily confirms that. "Echoes" again shows the urgency of Luhrs lyrics and vocals. He screams, "I can't take much more of this! Where is my way out?" The final track, "The First Step," has easily the most brutal vocals from Luhrs on the whole album. His screams will send chills through your whole body.

August Burns Red is clearly a veteran band, but fortunately for us they decided not to dwell on their past successes and instead created something completely different from the rest of their catalogue. Rescue & Restore is unlike any hardcore album I have ever listened to, and I cannot stop listening to it. The passion in Luhrs lyrics and vocals, the brutal breakdowns, and the wide array of instruments all combine to form one of the most complete works of art released so far this year.

Favorite Song: Beauty in Tragedy


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Chad Barela: Lonesome Road | Posted June-25-2013
The 21st century has brought with it many great things: iPhones, Silly Bands, twerking, imitation hipsters, microwaveable obesity in the form of TV dinners, etc. However, the one thing that came with the 21st century that can, at times, be not quite as good is the overproduction of music. There are so many "artists" out there today who use an overabundance of autotune and a multitude of effects on their music that it can hardly be considered art anymore, but rather a bunch of overproduced noise. All it takes is a computer and a little software and anybody can become an instant musician. So, sometimes it is refreshing to find someone with real talent - who can actually sing and actually play some kind of instrument without the need of vast amounts of effects. Chad Barela is that guy. He has a mesmerizing voice that will draw you in from the very first line of the very first track; and the instrumentals are soothing and perfectly balanced between the vocals.

"Seasons of Life" opens up the short EP with one of the more tranquil songs in which Barela talks about the changing of our lives as being like the changing of seasons. It is definitely one of the more minimalistic songs on the five song EP, with mostly just a guitar and Barela's voice playing on the track. "Sleepless Nights" is a song about love and missing someone so much that he cannot sleep just thinking about missing them. I absolutely love the violin on the chorus, and how seamlessly the track seems to flow.

The third track, "Lonesome Road," has taken its turn as being my favorite song on the EP, partially because of how full it sounds instrumentally and production wise as well partially because of how much I can relate to the lyrics. In the song Barela talks about leaving life behind and going on an adventure and just living life. There are times when I can honestly say I have thought it would be great for me to just pack up and leave my life behind for awhile. (Obviously this is not much of an option since I am in high school and I am pretty sure my parents would not approve. It is a nice thought though.) When I got to this song for the first time is when the genius of Chad's music struck me.

"Wanderer" has slowly creeped in to become my favorite track on the record. One of my favorite memories from this past year is from a few months ago when I sat on my roof and listened to this song on my iPhone, singing along to this song - and this song alone - for about a half an hour. It was exactly what I needed to hear and did a better job of soothing me than I think anything ever has before. The wanderlust aspect of this song, as well as how very minimalistic it is, is what appeals me to this song so much. If I ever feel like I want to just go away from my crazy life this is the perfect song for me to listen to. The EP closes out with "Closer Than I Appear," which was originally my favorite track of Barela's. It has a different feel to it than any other song on the EP. It definitely has a much more uplifting and fun sound to it, and it also has some sweet background vocals that add nice layering to the song.

From an artistic perspective, I would consider Lonesome Road an amazing project. This is art. Very few people can pick up a guitar and play and sing and make it sound good, and this is not just good, but great. I listen to this project on a consistent basis. Based off Barela's lyrics alone I feel like the two of us would be friends; all the stuff he talks about in each of these songs hit a chord with me and express a lot of my own thoughts. I can relate to every song on Lonesome Road, and I think many will be able to as well. The guy can sing. He can play guitar. And he knows how to make some pretty good music. I am always on the lookout for new artist with great sound, and I think I may have found one of my new favorites. Also, did I mention he released it all for free over on Bandcamp?


Favorite Song: Wanderer


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Fallstar: Backdraft | Posted June-25-2013
If there is one band that I am excited about right now it is Fallstar. Formerly of Come & Live Records, the band recently signed with Facedown Records at the end of January and then subsequently released their debut album, Backdraft, with the label in April. The Portland, Oregon natives are one of metalcore's finest new bands with the work ethic and sound to make it to the top.

Backdraft opens with the intro track, "Malbec Blood," which is one of my favorite intro songs on a metal album in awhile. The last one that grabbed my attention as much was "Without Walls" on Memphis May Fire's 2012 release, Challenger. Ironically, Matty Mullins, vocalist of MMF, is featured on the very next track, "Shallow Believer." The song, while being the first single from the record, is also one of the strongest tracks on Backdraft. Vocally the song shows off Chris Ratzlaff's fantastic unclean vocals, which I would describe as leaning more towards the guttural side as opposed to the usual metalcore trend of having very high unclean vocals.

"El Rey" is where I believe we are first really introduced to the fantastic clean vocals this band has to offer. I love the great mixture of heaviness and melodicism on this track. "Drags, Drugs and Bones" follows with what may be my favorite song of 2013 so far. I think the moment the track really clicked for me was when I saw the video for it on YouTube. Whereas "El Rey" was a great mixture of heaviness and melodicism, "Drags, Drugs and Bones" is the perfect mixture of the two. Vocally the song is on point with the absolute best unclean vocals the record has to offer, as well as of course great clean vocals. The part that set me over the edge though is about 2:30 into the track when Cody Carrier has his drum solo. Sonically this song is as palatable as I have heard in a long time.

Fallstar decided to go a little different route with the fifth track than most metalcore bands would dare to go by doing a song almost completely comprised of clean vocals. (Memphis May Fire also did this with their track, "Miles Away," on Challenger.) I said at one point, I think it was on Twitter, that what separates a good album from a great one, for me, is the lyrical content. The album I had in mind when I said that was Challenger which has been a huge source of inspiration and help when I need a crutch to lean on; and I feel like this is another way in which Backdraft is like Challenger. (I promise this will be the end of my comparison between the two bands, because I know you are not here to read about Memphis May Fire, but Fallstar.) The lyrics on this record are a little more mysterious than most bands out there today, because they were written to be interpreted and not so much to be understood the first time through - that is what I love about the lyrics. Not only are they great lyrics, but they have to be delved into in order to fully understand their meaning.

"The Valley" is probably one of my favorite tracks, lyrically, on Backdraft. I love the lines in the song where it says, "My God if you have found me, let me see your face. It's not safe, but it's so good...Turn me inside out cause I'm just a shell of a man." Next up, "Alexandria 363" brings out the heavy side of Fallstar. This is easily the heaviest track on the album from the instrumentals - which are much more technical than on the rest of the record - to the vocals which sound a lot more like death metal vocals than metalcore. "In Our Blood" is probably one of the weakest tracks on the record. It seems almost flat during the chorus and the riffs feel recycled from some of the previous tracks. The intensity and emotion of the song are what redeem the song though.

"Eclipse" is a very interesting filler song which clocks in at just under a minute. I take back my previous statement that "Alexandria 363" is the heaviest track on Backdraft, this is easily the heaviest on the album (but "Alexandria 363" is the heaviest full-length song). "The New World" is another one of my favorite songs as far as the drums go. I don't know why, but I really have this thing for drums lately. I have been air-drumming all the time, so I have definitely been noticing drums a lot more often in songs. The drums on this song are fantastic. The album finishes up with the song "Set My Face Like Flint," which is one of my favorite concluding tracks to an album I have heard in a very long time. It is an incredible way to end Backdraft.


Fallstar is one of those bands that I am very psyched for their future. Backdraft is an album that I cannot stop listening to. I always come back and listen to at least a couple tracks a day. Sonically these guys have it, they have the work ethic to push themselves to the top, and lead-singer Chris Ratzlaff definitely has the hair for it. (Seriously, you should check out his awesome hair.) This is my favorite metalcore album in a very long time and I look forward to the day that I can see them live. I have a feeling the guys in Fallstar put on one incredible show.


Favorite Song: Drags, Drugs and Bones


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Corey Kilgannon: Let Go | Posted June-25-2013
If you have been reading TCMRB for any length of time then you have probably heard us mention Corey Kilgannon at some point. About two years ago he released his first album and since has released another EP, a Christmas single, and now a brand new album. Corey's music has progressed with each release; each has become progressively better musically and better produced and with each release his sound seems to become fuller and more professional sounding. Let Go strays a little from Corey's acoustic beginnings to the use of multiple instruments and the occasional gang vocals. (I am a sucker for some good gang vocals.)

The album starts off with "Bandits," which is quite frankly one of my favorite songs on the album. The song begins with a nice kick-drum - and who isn't a sucker for a good kick-drum? Corey's voice was one of the things that instantly drew me into his music, and "Bandits" does a great job of showcasing his great voice to start off the record. "Drifter" is probably the best song live off the record - of the ones I have heard him play. The energy in the song is fantastic, making it not only a great live song but also a fun one to listen to through your speakers. I love the part of the chorus where he says, "If you throw everything you have to chance please know we are all waiting for your return, oh drifter."

"October Breeze" is one of my favorite tracks instrumentally on the album, from the great guitar work by Corey to some sweet violins throughout the song. Also, one of my favorite lines on the album comes from "October Breeze" when he says in the chorus, "If life is a riddle I'm so glad I've got you here to figure it out with me." The title track that follows is what I would consider the most developed song overall on the record. I feel like instrumentally, vocally, and production wise "Let Go" is the most full-sounding song on the record.

The fifth song on the record, "Summer Nights," is easily my favorite song Corey has ever released. The track is one of the more fun songs on Let Go, in which he talks about running away with this girl he loves. He says, "We could just write our own fate. I'd like to find myself lost with you." I'm pretty sure I have every word to this song memorized and frequently get it stuck in my head - even if I haven't listened to it in awhile. This track is a perfect representation of the whole album. Corey followed up such a fun-loving song in "Summer Nights" with a very somber one next in "Disappear." If you are prone to crying, you might want to grab a box of tissues before listening to this one. The song tells the story of a guy falling in love with this girl who ends up leaving him without much explanation and absolutely breaks his heart. He never gives up on her though because he cannot shake the feelings he has for her.

After such a sad song, "Yours Only" might cheer you up a little. Once again, the song is about love - this seems to be a theme running through most of Corey's songs. This one, however, has a much happier ending than "Disappear." In this one the girl says, "I promise I'll be here. I promise I'm yours only." This is another track where I absolutely love Corey's voice. It is very smooth and is showcased perfectly by the soft instrumentals.

"Soon" is very well accentuated by the piano, which gives it a much more somber mood than the other tracks on the record. In the song Corey talks about not being able to fully express his feelings to this particular girl. "Cross My Heart" has what I would consider more of a country sound than the rest of the album, especially during the chorus. (Maybe preparing to move to Nashville influenced his sound a little bit.) "Trying" is another really sad song in which he talks about trying to let go of a lost love. "Forget My Name" follows that up by saying that he wishes he could just disappear and everyone would forget about him and his mistakes. Then "Tennessee" finishes up the album by talking about how much he could wait to move to Nashville and experience that lifestyle.

I have really enjoyed seeing Corey grow as a musician. Almost two years ago when I first met him and reviewed his first album I was so excited about his music and where he would go. I have seen him countless times live and have listened to his music so many times over the past couples years. I feel as if he has definitely come a long way from two years ago. His live performance is fantastic, and this record definitely shows the work of a skilled and experienced musician. If I need a quick pick-me-up this is the record I turn to. Let Go is easily worth your $10, and that money will not only be going to help a musician trying to begin his career but some of the proceeds will also go to build wells in Haiti. If you are looking for a new artist to add to your iPod you will definitely want to check out Corey Kilgannon.


Favorite Song: Summer Nights


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Corey Kilgannon: When Christmas Comes (Single) | Posted December-22-2012
Corey Kilgannon, one of my favorite up-and-coming artists, has released a Christmas single entitled, "When Christmas Comes." My friend told me about Corey in July when I was on a mission's trip, and as soon as I got back to the United States I contacted Corey about his music. I reviewed his self-titled album and then I had the privilege to interview him a little less than a month later. His music is so good, and one thing I like is that a lot of his music is really personal and deep, but then some of it is really lighthearted and fun. He knows how to balance the two really well. Corey's latest song, "When Christmas Comes" is definitely one of my favorite original Christmas songs to come out in awhile. The lyrics are spot-on, the instrumentals are perfect, and his voice is superb. The song's concept could be compared to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You." It talks about how all he needs is this person for Christmas, and he wants to be with that person every Christmas. It is a really sweet song, and one that definitely gets me in the Christmas mood whenever I listen to it. I highly recommend buying this song. $0.99 will not bankrupt you, and it will definitely be worth your dollar. If you like any kind of Christmas music, this song will be perfect for you. It is deep and personal, but really fun at the same time, and it perfectly illustrates the sprit of Christmas. You can pick it up on iTunes, or you can go to YouTube and listen to a little preview of the song. You will definitely want to consider getting this song!


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Corey Kilgannon: Letters and Promises | Posted December-22-2012
I have come to expect so much from Corey's music, because everything he has ever released I have loved. His voice is so smooth, and the instrumentals to each of his songs are so well done and so well thought out. Corey's latest EP, Letters and Promises, has two remixes of songs off his first album/EP, as well as two new songs. Corey has released 13 songs...ever, and all of those have been in the past year. But I am pretty sure he is one of my most listened to artists, right after Lecrae and Switchfoot. This EP shows a lot of musical maturity by Corey and has some really great songs on it.


The first two songs on the EP are remixes of songs off his self-titled debut that came out last March. I cannot decide which is my favorite remix though. "Death, Dreams, and Days In Between" has some really awesome instrumentals and his voice sounds even better on this version than on the original. The song talks about life's decisions and living life to the fullest. The second remix is of "Kites and Kings," which I think turned out pretty awesome. He put in some awesome accordion parts and added a piano to a few parts on the song. From the moment I heard the piano on the song, I fell in love with the remix. I think I mentioned in my review of the original version of this song that I really loved the line "There's a world out there and it's yours for the taking." I cannot remember if I did, but either way I still really love that line!


The album then goes into the first completely new song, and the title track of the album. I think this song might possibly be my least favorite song right now of Corey's. I love the lyrics, and I like the instrumentals. To tell you the truth, I cannot really put my finger on what I do not like about the song. There are times when his voice goes really high, and it may be those parts that make me like it less, because it sounds a little less natural for him. I really do not know. The song though is basically him writing a letter to someone he really misses and wishes he could be with at that very moment. It is a very sweet song, but I do not think it measures up with some of his other stuff.


Corey finishes up very strong though with another new song, "I Swear." I get the chorus to this one stuck in my head a lot. The song is another relational song, that is pretty sweet just like "Letters and Promises." This is one of those songs that makes you feel all good inside and like everything is right in the world. The song was done to perfection and is probably one of the most well rounded songs he has ever done.


I am always amazed by everything Corey puts forth; his music is always personable and enjoyable to listen to. Letters and Promises has a bunch of awesome material on it and I would definitely recommend listening to it and paying the $4 for it. If you have listening to some of his past material you will definitely love the remixes. I love it every time Corey comes out with new stuff, and I cannot wait for another full-length from him. Maybe we will see some more new stuff from him in 2012!


Favorite Song: I Swear


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Corey Kilgannon: Corey Kilgannon | Posted December-22-2012
When I found this album I could not believe everything that I had missed my entire life. This album has got to be one of my top three favorite albums of all time. Corey's voice is absolutely amazing, and the music is just so soothing. I literally listened to this album seven times in a row straight through the other day. I do not listen to acoustic music very often, but Corey Kilgannon is definitely the exception to this rule. The only other albums that exceed this one in awesomeness are Tenth Avenue North's The Light Meets the Dark and Lecrae's Rehab. I am not even sure of that anymore though. I think this album might even be better than those two. I could listen to Corey's voice all day long. The first time I listened to this album I was in awe at Corey's talent.


I have to cut straight to the best song on the album, "Cadence." This song makes me want to hug a bunch people. I always get the biggest grin when I hear it. The lyrics are absolutely genius and the instrumentals were written perfectly for this track. The definition of cadence according to is a "rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words." This song is all about how God orchestrates our lives and how life is like one big song. Corey says in this song, "Three fourths of the time I confuse all my lines at the wrong measure in the wrong key. Even in my dissonance you hear a symphony. Orchestrate my life how you please." This song is truly gorgeous, and it accurately portrays our life with Christ. If you think about it, our life really is like a song, and God is the conductor of our life. God creates a cadence with our life; he makes it into a rhythmic flow.


The imagery in the song "We, Like the Weather" is absolutely astounding. He says, "The stars dance like a thousand lovers. They twirl and gaze into each others eyes. The trees they turn a million colors, the bright red leaves warn of the winter nights." I love the innocents of this song. Because of its innocents it could almost be an Owl City song, but acoustically. The lyrics take you to a whole different dimension. Corey has a way of making you feel as if you are exactly where he is talking about. You can feel the trees turning to different colors. You can feel the stars dancing about.


"Kites and Kings" definitely sounds different than any of the other songs on the rest of the album. It is a lot more upbeat, and has a completely different sound than anything else. I was really surprised when I heard it for the first time. I was not expecting anything like this on the album. I like it though. The lyrics are great and I think the album really benefited from having a little bit of a style change. I love it when he says, "Like kites flying high in the sea, crown-less we call ourselves kings. There's no wind underwater, but lately I've been dying for a breeze." A lot of the things Corey says on this album really make you think; they make you contemplate.


The song "Honestly, I'm Lying" is a pretty solemn song about self-discovery. He seems to be second guessing himself, and trying to figure out who he really is. He says, "Am I even like the person, you said you saw when you looked into my eyes. I wish I was half the guy I've been told I could be, for my entire life." This song makes you feel like you really know Corey. He really opens up in this song and gives you a peak inside his world. This track is all around great, and at the end you almost feel a sense of accomplishment. You feel as if he has found out who he is; and, you feel as if you have found who you are.


Corey Kilgannon is talented: lyrically, instrumentally, and musically. Corey has the talent to create a hit with every song he sings. His lyrics are meaningful. His instrumentals are written and recorded very well. He knows how to make music. This album is one of the few that I would recommend anyone to rush out and buy right now. In fact, if I were you, I would stop reading this review and go to iTunes right away spend the eight bucks to buy it. It will be the best eight bucks you have ever spent in your entire life. Even if you do not like acoustic music, I am pretty sure you will fall in love with Corey's voice. I know I did.


Favorite Song: Cadence


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Jordan Copas: Copas on Focus (Volume 1) | Posted December-22-2012
Anybody who has been reading this site for a while has probably heard the name Jordan Copas. I have seen this brother grow in his craftsmanship and in Christ over the past year; and, so I was super pumped to see that he was releasing another album this year: On Focus (Volume 1). With each release, you can see Copas' lyrics, beats, rapping - everything - get gradually better. With that said, On Focus, is easily Copas' best work to date.


The album begins with "Half a Brick," which also happens to be one of the best songs on the record. I love the line in the chorus in which Copas cries out to God, "Bring your truth from my head to my heart." This line summarizes the song perfectly which is about growing in our walk with Christ and knowing Him better. "Significance" follows that up with another stellar song, this one dealing with the fact that we matter to God and He created us for a purpose. "Control" is about giving God control of our lives and giving him the reigns. "The Cure" talks about God's love and the greatness of God to forgive us.

"Have Mercy" is the first song with a collaboration; Copas partnered up with Dishon, a fellow Full Grind Productions artist. The song is one of the better on the album from a production standpoint; and, is also very strong from a lyrical perspective. "Abide" follows that up with maybe my favorite song lyrically on the album. Copas talks about how we need to abide in Christ because we cannot do anything on our own. On "Metamorphosis" the beat steals the show with easily the best beat on the album. I could listen to this song all day just based on the fantastic beat.

Copas has become known for his collaborations with Benjah; and, so far those have been the strongest songs on each of his albums. This album is no different. "Lay it Down" is easily the best overall song on the album. Benjah is one of those guys who can add so much to a song; and, anytime I see he is on a song I automatically have very high expectations for it.

The album begins to come to a close with "How to Pray," which really slows the pace down. This song sees Copas struggling with prayer and what to pray for - something I think every Christian struggles with at some point in their walk. "Reservoir" has more of an acoustic feel to it - something you do not see very often on a rap album. This song has quickly become another one of my favorites on the album. I also really respect him for singing his own hook on this song. Most rappers will not even try to sing their own hooks; so, I definitely give him props for that. "Copas on Focus (G.5)" finishes off the album on a high note - much more upbeat than the two previous songs.

I have really enjoyed seeing Jordan Copas grow over the past year; and, I have definitely enjoyed hearing his music mature as well. On Focus is by far Copas' best release to date; and, even though it may not be up to Lecrae's level, I can definitely see his music getting closer and closer to that achievement. This album shows definite improvement in all areas of music - from the beats, to the lyrics, to the production, even to the rapping. On Focus is definitely worth your time. Make sure you check out this release from Copas and definitely be on the lookout for more stuff from him in the future!


Favorite Song: Lay it Down


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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Anberlin: Vital | Posted October-26-2012
 Anberlin has long been a band that I ignored. I was never a huge fan of their style - for some reason - and something about their music just never drew me in. That all changed when I decided to give them a chance and buy their greatest hits album, Dancing Between the Fiber of Time that came out earlier this year. After one listen through the album I was in love; I could not stop listening to all of the songs on the record. This of course made me very excited to get my hands on a new Anberlin album (even though I still do not own a full Anberlin record other than Vital - something I hope to change soon). Vital is everything I hoped for, and more. Every time a band parts with their record company it can be seen as kind of bad thing, but it looks like parting ways with Tooth & Nail was a actually a good thing for the band. Their last album, Dark is the Way, Light is the Place, was generally unimpressive from what I have heard of it; but, Vital is precisely the opposite.

Most diehard Anberlin fans will say that Cities is the greatest Anberlin record, and from what I have heard of it, it is fantastic. However, I think Vital may be better. This album sees Anberlin delve into the more electronic and technical aspects of music, something that actually seems very appropriate for Stephen Christian's vocals. His side project, Anchor & Braille, actually leans more to the techno side of music, so that may be why it seems so appropriate for them to add this style to their music.

Vital begins with the first single, "Self-Starter," which is easily one of my favorite songs on the album. The song is very upbeat and has a very raw feeling to it; however, it immediately shows the album's more technical side - especially in the bridge. The lyrics also seem to be a bit more urgent - for a lack of better words - than previous songs from the band. "Little Tyrants" has a little more of an old school feel to it, which may come from the fact that it is just a straight up rock song, with minimal programing. "Other Side" shows off the bands more emotional side with lines like, "Love me! Love me! Why don't you know me? Know me? Hold me! Hold me! I am just me, trust me!"

"Someone Anyone" was instant favorite of mine as soon as it was released as a single. The track is one of the more fast paced on Vital, and has probably one of the coolest background stories. The song was written kind of in response to the riots in Egypt, and from what I can tell is written from the perspective of one of the rioters. "Intentions" has more of a dance vibe to it, something I do not think I have heard from Anberlin. The song sees vocalist Stephen Christian longing for something better, saying, "I want a love that I don't deserve." The song "Innocent" brings the album to a sort of crossroads with the slowest song on the record. I love the lyrics to the track which talk about how we are all born innocent and made to be carefree; the song reminds me a lot of Anchor & Braille.

After slowing the album down, Anberlin picks right back up with one of the more fast-paced songs, "Desires." The song also happens to be my favorite on Vital; which comes from my love of the chorus. I had no clue that I could fall in love with a song as much as I have with "Desires;" I may have literally listened to this song 100 times in the first week after I got the album. It never fails to get me singing along (and possibly even dancing), and it always, always gets stuck in my head. 

"Type Three" follows that up with another phenomenal song which also gets stuck in my head on a frequent basis. The track is easily the most vulnerable song on the album, and maybe one of the most vulnerable I have heard this year. The very first lines of the song automatically give you a hint into how personal the song is - "I have my reasons, for the vices I embrace. A world of treasons, I'm their only escape. No one lives here, as conversations are drowning. Sixteen is nothing, I never will be 'til I'm dead." With "Type Three" begins a streak of more emotional songs, which is seen in the final three songs, "Orpheum," "Modern Age," and "God, Drugs & Sex." It is interesting, to me, that for a such fast-paced record they end with four straight slow songs; but, I kind of like it. It is different. I might also add that "God, Drugs & Sex" is one of my favorite final songs on album in awhile.

Anberlin has become one of my favorite bands, and they really blew me out of the water with this album. I have come to love every song on this album; it is one of those where you do not want to skip a single track - they are all that good. Vital is easily worth the 10 bucks or so it costs to buy, and one of those I would highly recommend checking out if you are a fan of alternative rock music. Take it from someone who never really gave Anberlin a chance until this year - give this album a chance. Anberlin is back and better than ever, folks.

Favorite Song: Desires


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today!

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The Wedding: No Direction | Posted September-24-2012
The Wedding have a long and seemingly complicated history. About four years ago I found their EP The Sound and the Steel and was blown away, but then I never really heard anything about them again until two months ago when I saw they were coming near me for a show. Apparently they released one other EP since The Sound and the Steel, called Distance, which I do not think was released digitally, because I cannot find it anywhere online. Now, the band, with new vocalist, Matt Shelton, is releasing their new album and debut with Tooth & Nail Records, No Direction. As I mentioned, they came to a two day festival back in August and played both days. I had the privilege to see them both times, and I was honestly really surprised about how amazing they are live. I have never seen a band have that much energy on stage, and I was extremely excited to hear some new tunes from them to see if that energy translates to a recording.

It does not. Whenever I think back to when I saw them play about a month ago I kind of wonder if this is the same band that played then. They played two songs off No Direction, the title track and "In the End," and both songs were melt-your-face-off songs live, but listening to them recorded it is more soft rock than melt-your-face. I can tell, especially on "In the End," they tried to translate the energy over onto the album, but it is just not the same as seeing them live. You have to see these guys live in order to get the full effect; these songs are so much more intense live, and definitely a lot better in concert.

With that said, I still really like this album, even if does not exactly have the same amount of energy as they do live. I have listened to this record probably about 15 times since I received it, and it does not get old. I try not to let anything bias my opinion of an album, so when thinking about the quality of this album I try to eliminate how great they are live and how intense their shows are. After eliminating that thought from my head, it made it a lot easier to look at this album objectively and realize how good it actually is. No Direction is catchy. Every song on the album has gotten stuck in my head at some point or another. The Wedding did a fantastic job of creating a great rock album (even if it does not quite measure up to their potential intensity level).

The title track opens up the album with one of the catchiest songs on the album, but probably also one of the softer song songs on the record. The first time I heard the song recorded I was really surprised at the lack of energy on the song, especially after hearing how it sounds live. Nonetheless, the track is solid, and one of my favorites on the album thus far. "In the End" ups the intensity notch just a little bit with a song that talks about how we will get what we want in the end; what we sow we will reap. I think "The Lesser Worth" may be the climax of the intensity on the album, with some of the best instrumentals and in-your-face gang vocals highlighting the song. "The Raconteur" is another one of the more soft songs on the record, but it is very lyrically intense. The song is a message to all the boys out there to stand firm in their convictions and not waiver on their beliefs; as Shelton sings you can really hear the seriousness in his voice, which adds a little more intensity to the song.

"Hang on Love" somewhat reminds me of Falling Up, especially their album, Captiva (my personal favorite). As far as the softer songs go on this record, this may be Shelton's best vocally. "The Wildest Ocean" really slows it down and "Mors Tua Nos Vita" does not exactly pick up the pace either. "Kill Any Excuse," however, brings the intensity back to the album with one of the best guitar tracks on the album, but not one of the best vocally, in my opinion. "Heartbreak in Melody" is easily my favorite song in the later portion of the album; it embodies the best parts of the band, which are Shelton's great vocals as well as a mixture of intense and melodic rock. The album finishes up with "Don't Let Me Down," "Young and Dangerous," and "Distance and Resolution," with "Young and Dangerous" being the highlight of the three.

No Direction is not exactly one of the most deep in terms of lyrics and it is not exactly the most intense, or best, rock album of the year; but, it is a pretty good rock album nonetheless. I feel a little cheated with this record, because they are so intense live, but this album is nowhere near their intensity level on stage. The thing that made them so amazing to me is conspicuously missing from this record, and that automatically knocked it down a notch for me. The Wedding created a pretty good album, especially considering this is their first full-length album in five years, but I definitely can see some improvement that can be made for next time. The Wedding may be the most promising band in Christian rock right now, and I feel like they are still on their way up. Hopefully their next album will better represent how amazing they are live, but for now, No Direction is still a pretty solid album and one definitely worth your time and money.

Favorite Song: In the End


This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Music Review Blog. Click here to visit today! 

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