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Against the Grain
Posted February 18, 2014
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

Metal act For Today has more than earned the respect offered them by both the Christian and mainstream metal and hardcore communities. Whether playing edgy summer tour circuit Warped Tour or carefully packing gospel messages into hardcore songs in the studio, the band maintains a work ethic and integrity that grounds them despite the firestorm of criticism occasionally hurled from both sides.

Fight the Silence is the latest chapter in the band’s blistering discography. Stylistically, the project pummels the airwaves with the same bone-crushing sonic brutality that marks their previous projects, though carrying a little more texture to the songs’ arrangements.

Bringing in clean vocals rarely and eschewing them entirely for multiple songs, For Today frontman Mattie Montgomery delivers track after track with crushing force. Although maintaining a consistent level of sonic fury throughout, the album avoids overwhelming the listener with too much noise (a pitfall common for harder music) by carefully choosing when to leave breathing room in the music— choosing when to cut one or both guitars or the drums to leave auditory space. Opening offering "Molotov" is an example of this, building slowly weighing the powerhouse growling verses against a cleaner chorus carried by melodic vocalist Ryan Leitru.

The album also continues a classic For Today tradition of inserting softer, partially instrumental interludes throughout the album to help with its pacing and ground its thematic content. "Reflections" and "Resonate" are the two intermissions for this album, both featuring haunting, drifting arrangements with clear, clean vocals concisely capturing the album's themes.

Said themes largely center around actively pursuing justice and mercy in a world steeped in oppression and violent hatred, and the ever-present hope that Christ is still close even in the darkest places. Lead single and title track "Fight the Silence" in particular is a kind of anthem for the ongoing battle against human trafficking and modern day slavery. Here the band's aggression is in its finest form, standing as a heavyweight spiritual contender against cruelty.

"A Call to Arms" is in the same vein, capturing exactly what its title implies as it leads the charge. "One Voice," given musical impetus by David Puckett's drum fills, carries a memorable swagger in the riff as it calls for unity in moving against the darkness.

Indeed throughout this project, the visceral intensity of the music is given even more urgency and emotional force through its lyrics. "Fatherless" is a particularly poignant autobiographical piece examining the fall out from growing up fatherless, capturing the experience of so many youth with the words "Now I've come to see it was never me I was looking for, it was always Him."

Although many of the themes are those which For Today's diverse audience will universally relate to, they are also unashamed to present a fearless gospel message in songs like "Dead to Rights." As "Hated by the World" narrates, this dedication to the message has often been anything but easy. For Today has drawn a lot of fire for their beliefs both from outside and even within their fan base, which has caused the group to decide beyond a shadow of a doubt what they stand for and what is worth dedicating their lives to— which for them will always be the gospel above a music scene.

Closing Thoughts:
Although this album does not come with any major innovations, it incorporates the best of hardcore and nu-metal industrial sensibilities to create a solid offering that more than delivers for fans and new listeners alike. Carrying even more crushing power than the low-tuned riffage, the messages of this project are what truly set it apart as impossible to be ignored. This is a call to attention and action for any listeners— first to receive hope, and then to use it practically to fight very real issues in our world.

Song to Download Now:
"Fight the Silence" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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