Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Third Day: Miracle

Third Day: Miracle
Release Date: 6 November 2012
Genre: Contemporary Southern Rock
Label: Essential
Similar Artists: Kutless; Jars Of Clay; Jeremy Camp; Todd Agnew
Album Length: 41:32
Rating: 4/5

From the first beat it is obvious… this is classic Third Day. Third Day is the type of band that anyone will like if given the chance; their mixture of southern rock and praise lyrics makes them a sure hit for all ages. I have played their previous albums for so many people after being asked for a neutral band - this album is no different. Many people came into the shop and the kids ran to the listening stations to check out what was new and a few minutes later they were leaving with a copy of the album… I think this may be you too.

The album differs relatively from their previous album ‘Move’. I thought that ‘Move’ was their heaviest album to date, in the sense that they had a few songs that were rockier. This new album ‘Miracle’ has brought about a new era for Third Day I think. ‘Miracle’ is able to blend that style everyone loves; the softer songs that appeal to the heart, and the rockier songs that get the foot tapping. One thing Third Day has always been able to do is make country style Christian rock cool. I am pleased to say this album is no different.

The album shifts tone a few times; it starts with a bang in Hit Me Like a Bomb and then moves on to songs like I want to believe in You. It is difficult to give the album a definite tone…it is definitely Southern (Mac Powell’s voice is as amazing as ever) but the variation of song tones makes for an interesting compilation. I must be honest: the first time I heard ‘Miracle’ I did not think it was going to be my favourite Third Day album. But the songs grew on me and the lyrics began to hit me and it wasn’t long before my appreciation for this album grew. In particular the lyrics from Take Me Back are especially beautiful: “Take me back to the place it started; take me back to the warmth of the sun; to the place where the rivers meet the ocean; take me back home; yeah, that’s where I belong.”

I have been a Third Day fan for many years now. I love their old stuff and now their new stuff; they are a band that has managed to keep up with the times without losing their incredibly unique sound. Something I loved which was new on this album was their cover of the old school song Morning Has Broken – it’s one of the best covers I have ever heard. I think I even prefer it to the original…

I highly recommend this album for anyone that is looking for music. If you like rock you’ll enjoy it, if you like praise you will like it, if you enjoy chilled music you will like it. There is something for everyone on this album. I say go get it and enjoy it.

For me, my favourite track on ‘Miracle’ goes to…drum roll please… For The Rest Of My Life.

Have a rocking week everyone

Ooo my turn…Ok…straight off the bat I’d like to state I’ve never really listened to Third Day…not because I didn’t like their music  but purely because I placed a “praise and worship” label on them (I don’t know why this is, I think Jay must’ve played me one of their worship albums or something…). But me being into harder rock and now indie/folk meant they were never really a band that stood out.

Taking my ‘Haste the Day vs. Haste the Day’ CD out and putting ‘Miracle’ in, I was totally unaware of the awesomeness that was to come.  Now, I’d like to emphasise that I am NOT an avid fan who has a wealth of knowledge of their previous work and likes to boast that I knew them before they were cool - but am a complete newbie - so I can’t compare this to the older stuff. I can, however, speak from a complete ‘naïve’ point of view.

From the first track, Hit me like a bomb, I was hooked! Considering the fact that I thought they were more of a “praise and worship” band I was completely taken aback at the amount of variety in the album. It goes from the rocky opening track to the slower I need a Miracle to the kind of bluesy The Victory. Despite this amount of variety, the tracks follow each other smoothly - the way in which the CD is put together is faultless. You find yourself constantly guessing what kind of song is coming next.

The album is a true example of how effective music can be in spreading a message. Their lyrics are some of the most powerful I’ve listened to in a long time:

"Well, no matter who you are,
And no matter what you've done
There will come a time
When you can't make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you're not the only one
Prayin', Lord above, I need a miracle" - I Need a Miracle

I could literally fill up this entire blog with extracts from each and every song, but instead of doing that I’ll just recommend you go out and get a copy of ‘Miracle’ for yourself :p

One thing that doing this review has taught me is that you should give all music a chance…you never know…you could be missing out on something really really good!! I give it a 4 out of 5!

Peace and love everyone

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What Sets Christian Music Apart?

I know this may be coming a few posts too late, but for the purpose of this post, I think it’s important that we introduce ourselves. Let’s start with the “us” part of that shall we. The “us” refers to two men who are striving to spread the word of God. We are doing this through various methods, with the first being this blog. We will be bringing up topics that we have struggled with and questions we don’t know how to answer. Through this we hope to bring more awareness to music and the power it has to deliver a message. We want people to see music as another form of delivery, something that can speak to the heart. This is easier said than done; there are certain challenges that face us and we hope you’ll follow us on our mission. So let us jump straight into today’s topic…hold onto your toupee as we begin our journey into the colourful and wonderful world of the unknown.

When someone mentions Christian music to you, what is the first thing that you think about? Are there certain bands that immediately jump out? Of course there are; these are bands that are known throughout the world, and for very good reason. They are fantastic bands such as Hillsong who have been around for many years. They have provided us with most of the songs we sing in our youth services today, and we were totally stoked to be able to see them live when they were here this past week at Rhema! I want to leave Hillsong for now but keep a look out for a post on that incredible experience soon. I want to ask some questions that I’m sure many people have thought about, but perhaps have seldom answered: why is Christian music different? What sets it apart? Is there something about the music? Is there something about the lyrics? Or is there something about the feeling given off by the music? These are questions I have asked myself over the past couple of weeks and I have come to a conclusion; there is no way I can give my opinion on this without raising the eyebrows of some people. Some people will agree with me, some people will disagree with me – such is life. At first I thought that was going to be a problem but now all I can think is: AWESOME!! If I am able to stir up a debate that leads to people discovering and learning, then I will be chuffed. Anyway, enough about that, back to the topic at hand.

Think about your favourite band, secular or Christian, it doesn’t matter… have you got it? Good… I bet you are even singing along to one of their songs in your head right now. Now I want you to think about that band; what sets that band apart for you? What makes it so special? What makes it so different from all the millions of other equally good bands? I believe that it is the way that bands music makes you feel. It’s that smile you get on your face when you hear the radio play your favourite song, or it’s that sense of satisfaction when you are able to air guitar to the whole solo. Maybe it’s the way it reminds you of a memory? Whatever it is, there is something that ties you to that band that no other band does. And that is exactly how I feel Christian music portrays its music; there are no random lyrics in Christian music, there are no fleeting thoughts, every line is written because it has a purpose, and I believe it is that purpose that sets it apart. Let me explain…

I drive a car, go figure, and when I drive I often spend a while in the car and it’s there that I spend the most time listening to my music. I have noticed that when I am listening to certain bands I find myself banging on the steering wheel because the drumming is too intense to ignore, or perhaps I am feeling ridiculously sombre because the acoustics of another band make me feel a sense of calm. I sound like quite an emotional person, but what I am trying to say is that there is a band for every mood and that often it can affect the way you feel at a given moment. But that hasn’t answered the question; this can be the same for both secular and Christian music so what is it that sets Christian music apart? And here I may get controversial, but stick with me…I believe that any Christian song is designed to uplift; the type of upliftment that means you can listen to any band depending on your personal preference (heavy metal or worship for example) and the music might not always put a smile on your face but it will speak straight to your heart and help you reconnect with God in many ways. For me, that is what sets Christian music apart. Do not misunderstand me, I am well aware that secular is able to put a smile on your face, and indeed it does, and I have certain songs that I will jam to in my car. The goal of this post is simply to get you thinking; if I get you thinking about what sets Christian music apart, then I can ask you many other questions, and before you know it, we will have a pretty decent blog.

What do you think? Is there something that sets Christian music apart? And if so, how can we bring Christian music to the foreground? If you have read this, thank you, and I do hope you tune in for our album review of ThirdDay’s ‘Miracle’ on Wednesday.

Have a rocking week everyone

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Disciple: O God Save Us All

Release date: 13 November 2012
Genre: Christian Metal, hard rock, alternative metal
Label: Fair Trade Services
Similar artists: RED; I Am Empire
Album length: 36 minutes 53 seconds, 11 tracks

Rating:  4.5/5     

You put the album in…15 seconds later…BOOOOOM!!! The first guitar intro begins and you know this is going to be a rocking album. “Do you live, do you think like they told you?” are the opening lyrics to their first hit song Outlaws. Knowing who Disciple is as a band is important to understand their lyrics. The lyrics are not simply written because they go well with the beat; they are written because they are anointed, and this is evident when every song is accompanied by a bible scripture - pretty cool.

The feel of the album is not hidden; the music is heavy in the first few songs, heavy enough to be classified as heavy rock, sometimes even metal, yet calm enough to be able to hear the lyrics. There are certain songs in which hearing the lyrics becomes a little difficult but it isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t ruin the vibe at all. Speaking of vibes, one of the coolest vibes given off by the album is in track two which happens to be the title track O God Save Us All. Half way through, the song breaks into a mad drum and guitar solo and it leaves you feeling as though you haven’t listened to it loud enough...every time you raise the volume, its never loud enough.

Compared to their previous album, ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’, this album is a little bit calmer. The reason I say this is because the ratio of melodic rock and heavy rock songs is higher on ‘O God Save Us All’ than on ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’ which is something I do not condemn about the album but actually admire; it is not easy to successfully adjust the tone of a rock album several times in one album and Disciple pulls it off perfectly. The shift between track 3 R.IP and Once and For All is gradual enough to notice yet it doesn’t make you think you have started listening to a different band. In my humble opinion, the album is great from songs 1 through 3, but where the album truly comes into its own is from track 4 onwards. I cannot explain the amount of times I have received strange looks in traffic while jamming my face off to songs like King’ and in particular The On’. You cannot help but rock out when listening to this album, but there is more to it than meets the eye…

In the process of writing this review I have listened to this album over 17 times, but I wanted to give the best review possible, so it was all for you guys. During those 17 or so times of listening to the album I began to listen past the insane drumming and awesome guitar solos and I began to notice the story being revealed by the lyrics. From what I could gather, there was a definite story that was developed from song 1 to 11…I do not want to give the story away, you can go listen to the album for yourself.

I had to search hard for anything negative to say about this album and eventually I thought I had it, but then the one thing I thought was the only negative to this album turned into one of the positives: the album is only 37 odd minutes, a full 6 minutes shorter than their previous album which I thought was going to be a negative. But then the beat got to me; each time the album finished I felt as though I wasn’t finished listening to it, so I just listened to it again, and again, and so the albums lack of length proved to be an asset.

Disciple has produced an album in ‘O God Save Us All’ that is near perfect; it’s a fine choice for our first album review on this blog, and it’s a fine album to add to any collection. Secular or Christian rockers will thoroughly enjoy the intense lyrics, the insane instrumentals- whether solo or backing. Having said all that there are certain parts of the album that stick out more than others, namely the intro to track 8 Unstoppable… just listen to it, you will thank me later. The second out standing aspect of the album is the chorus in track 9 The One. I am going to type them in caps lock because they are that awesome: “CAN YOU FEEL IT WHEN THE HEART STARTS BEATING? / CAN YOU FEEL IT WHEN THE BODY STARTS BREATHING? / CAN YOU FEEL IT WHEN THE WALLS START BREAKING? / CAN YOU FEEL IT WHEN THE HEAVENS START SHAKING? / WE WONT EVER FACE THIS FIGHT ALONE, WE BLEED ONE FOR ALL, WE BLEED ALL FOR ONE”.

Overall I rate this album to be one of the best rock albums out at this moment, and every person that calls themselves a rocker should have one. As I will do in all my future reviews, I will name my favourite song from the album and in this case, it goes to The One.

Thank you Disciple, we look forward to your next project.

Have a rocking week everyone

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Christian Music in a “Secular” World

Mumford and Sons...arguably one of the most successful bands at the moment. Christian? Non-Christian? What do they sing for? Who do they sing for? These were questions that plagued me for a long while and ultimately led me to this blog post.

All those who know me are well aware of my M&S fanaticism. The majority of their songs have undeniable Christian undertones, which got me thinking...Why have no other Christian bands really exploded onto the music scene? And I’m not talking about just the Christian music scene, but the secular one. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been wrestling with the question “Is Christian music just not as good as secular music?” I must confess that for the past 3 months my playlist has consisted of The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, The Beatles, AC/DC, Rise Against and Haste the Day. I know what band probably stood out for some here: AC/DC...I’ve heard many people ask how I, as a Christian, could listen to such a band. Granted, some of their lyrics are more than horrible, but am I less of a Christian for listening in awe to the guitar riff in “Highway to Hell”? Again, another sensitive topic, perhaps for another day...

The point that I am trying to make (in a very roundabout way) is: The Christian music scene has good quality bands, making good quality music...look no further than Red, Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch etc. But why aren’t they as popular as Nickelback for instance? Is it because they are labelled “Christian” and thus appeal to a much smaller audience? A few years ago it was stated that Switchfoot would focus on the “secular” music industry, but stressed that they were not renouncing their faith in anyway. They were apparently focusing on preaching to the unsaved. A few weeks after this transition, their single “Dark Horses” hit the top of the rock charts in South Africa and stayed there for four weeks! It makes one wonder if their Christian label is what hindered their mainstream success in the first place – that they WERE actually playing quality music, but people just weren’t interested in listening to a Christian band?

Would Rihanna, Beyoncé, Florence and the Machine or The Lumineers be as famous if they were openly Christian? What is it that is holding Christian bands from mainstream audiences? I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve heard Skillet or Red on the radio – some songs you wouldn’t even guess were why don’t they play them?!?! How do Christian bands escape this label and reach a larger audience?

I am not going to lie, I don’t have any answers to the questions I am posing. I’m just frustrated that the Christian music scene has some amazing bands (even just from a purely musical point of view) but they are being ignored by the majority of people due to their Christian label. Many people love Mumford and Sons...Christian or Non-Christian, it doesn’t matter! They are being loved for their amazing musical ability!
I personally believe that far too much Christian music lags behind secular music, in terms of both quality and originality. I’m not trying to be overly critical, but asking these questions isn’t a bad thing. As stated earlier, I know I’ve asked more questions than I’ve answered, so please, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Here at Rocking it Christian Style we are on the constant lookout for quality Christian bands coming onto the scene. Matthew Mole and Nakhane Toure are two, new, local South African examples of solo artists who have an incredible talent. Be sure to keep a close eye on this blog for events, album reviews and amazing songs from both new and old!

Look out for our review of Disciple’s “O God Save Us All” this Wednesday, 20 February 2013.

Peace and love everyone

NB: Please read the followup post "Christian Music in a 'Secular' World v2.0" views have changed somewhat since writing the above post!:p