Donn’s Top Ten albums of 2017
10) Nothing Left – Destroy and Rebuild
9) August Burns Red – Phantom Anthem
8) Manafest – Stones
7) Phineas – Dark Flag
6) War of Ages – Alpha
5) Demon Hunter – Outlive
4) Seventh Day Slumber – Found
3) Red – Gone
Listening to Red’s new album, Gone for probably the tenth time or so on Amazon prime music. Still want the physical copy but I love this album. I don’t know yet, if it’s their best work but either way, it’s awesome. It opens with my favorite track – Step Inside, the violence and it’s just right in your face. I love it. The whole album has their signature sound that so many of us have grown to love. Some of it is almost haunting and dark with the sound but that’s a cool sound to me. They remind me a little of the secular band from around 2000, Stabbing Westward. If you’re a fan of Red, then you must have this album. If you’re new Red, give them a try. They’re not a heavy, heavy metal. Their lyrics are powerful and well thought out. As soon as I get the hard copy, I’ll quote some of the lyrics. But right now, they are definitely in the running for album of the year. I can’t find a bad track on the album. Take the time to pick up the deluxe version.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
The 5th release from 12 Stones, Picture Perfect, is a good hard rock release with twelve tracks and two bonus songs make for a nice long album. 12 Stones is an American Christian post-grunge band that was formed in 2000 in Louisiana. Their last release was Beneath the Scars in 2012, so they probably had plenty of material stored up to put into this album. My personal complaint is that the lyrics aren’t printed on the jacket and I love reading the lyrics. Picture Perfect is the title track. This is the official video released for it.
The songs are all solid mixing of heavy rock with some ballads. Lerlene stands out as a great ballad. I really like Blessing too. I’ve listened to the album a bunch of times and it’s just solid material. Nothing blows me away and doesn’t break new ground for them but they don’t need to. They put out consistently good music like bands Disciple and Skillet. They’ve had a few big crossover hits and just keep rocking along. If you like solid grunge to hard rock music, check these guys out and definitely give this album a listen. I’m giving it 3.5 stars out of 5. I think it’s a very solid release. Just wish they included the lyrics. They lost a half star for that.
It’s just heavy enough and yet you can still understand the lyrics perfectly. And that’s the style Seventh Day Slumber plays perfectly with a mix of harder music and ballads and Christ centered lyrics. I love heavy metal and really enjoy the real heavy stuff with screams and growls but my favorite style is plain old hard rock. Seventh Day Slumber is a Christian rock/hard rock band formed way back in 1996. Their first big record company release came in 2005 with Shattered Life. But on to my review of their new release, Found released in 2017. I’m not going to lie, I’m a huge fan of them and was really looking forward to this album. I was not disappointed. So far, I’ve probably listened to this album a dozen or so times in just a few weeks.
The first song release is the title track, Found and hits right at home. “You were the one who always came running, when all my world had come undone. You were the one bringing my healing. With open arms, You call me son. Deep in the valley, You were still calling. Deep in my heart, I heard the sound. All of Your grace for all of my failure, I was so lost but now I’m found.” The album continues to blend heavier and softer tracks but the lyrics continue to hit home and bring great meaning. Joseph Rojas is the lead singer and founder of the band and his voice just fits perfectly with the lyrics and when I saw them live, he’s a good preacher too. You can just feel this band has a strong heart for the Lord.
My favorite song on the album is, Mercy Meets My Pain. Here’s the chorus. “There’s no light without the darkness. And without my struggle, I can’t be given peace. And through all the chaos and madness, You are working for my pain. In my darkest night, is where Your mercy meets my pain.”
I just can’t seem to get enough of these songs. I don’t know if this will be the album of the year for me but right now it’s running at the top. If you like Spirit filled lyrics with a tinge of heaviness, then this is the album for you.
But I definitely rate this as 5 out of 5 stars. I think it’s worth the money to buy.
Five bands and almost 4 hours of awesome music. It was a $10 ticket that was seriously worth $100. Two weeks ago I drove up up to north country of New York in Carthage to see Seventh Day Slumber headline their Summer Rockfest tour.
Opening the show was an all girl band called Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. And I mean girl, cause these are all 3 teenage sisters playing their version of metalcore they funnily refer to as beautycore. Maggie is the lead vocalist and she can scream with the best of them and would give even Lacey Sturm a run for her money. So we were off and running and rocking.
Next up was the band, The Protest. An up and coming hard rock band. Though I’d say they’re metal. Very heavy set and just awesome. And no break at all. Drum sets being shared, meant there was only about a 10-15 minute break between acts. Really liked these guys and bought their album. Good stuff. Definitely on their way to hitting it big onto a bigger record label.
Next up was the band Scarlet White. They’re a hard rock band with more good original music glorifying God. They’re a band that has done extensive touring and another band on the edge of hitting it big. Everyone so far has played short 5-6 song sets but they’re rocking pretty hard.
Next up is the final opening act of the night, Random Hero. They played a little longer set and from looking at their merch table, they have a bunch of albums out. And man, are they good. They have a great stage presence and really got the crowd involved. They’ve got a great sound and definitely comparable to Disciple and Skillet. And that ended the opening acts and was I full of energy. All the bands were very open about their faith and glorifying God. Even though it was a tiny crowd there, these bands were giving their best and it was much appreciated.
Now onto the main event, Seventh Day Slumber. Took about 20 minutes to set up but they hit the stage guns ablazing. Full on assault of hard rock and fire for pyrotechnics. But they would put on more than just a rock show. Joseph Rojas is the lead singer and shared his amazing testimony including the 20 plus year history of the band. These guys hit all their hits(of which there are many) and some cover songs. Hunger Strike originally played by Chris Cornell and mother love bone was a well done cover. Worship song, from the inside out was beautifully done. But Joseph also threw in some preaching with an altar call. The music was phenomenal but feeling the Holy Spirit working at a hard rock/metal show was just amazing. Seventh Day Slumber put on a beautiful show. But it was more than that. It was a full on ministry of sorts.
This was one of my favorite Christian shows I’ve been to. It rocked hard but yet, there was testimony, preaching and full on honoring God. What a phenomenal experience that has put me back on a spiritual high of sorts. If you get the chance, definitely check out each one of these bands. I went on a spending spree and bought all the opening acts’ albums. I’ll be posting those reviews soon. I already owned the whole discography of Seventh Day Slumber except for their early stuff from the late 90s which is now mine. But they do have a brand new release that is blowing me away. Review coming.
But this was definitely a five star show for me. Just loved it and loving how it’s made me feel.
This is a new group started by Ryan and Brandon Leitru from the band For Today. They bring in Danon Saylor on vocals from a bullet for pretty boy and Alex Camarena on drums from Silent planet. And so was born a new supergroup. Make no mistake, this is not For Today and not Mattie Montgomery on vocals but it is still without a doubt awesome metalcore music. Danon is great on vocals and the lyrics have a darkness to them examining things the impact of losing a friend to suicide. This is definitely in your face metal but not in your face with Christ-like their former band. But their love of metal shows and they are still having playing the heavy stuff. No, this isn’t For Today but it’s still awesome metal. It’s a short 16 minute, 6 track ep but it’s a glimpse of great metal to come from these guys. Hands of Death is my favorite song and looks at losing a friend to suicide.
I give the album a solid 4 out of 5 stars and a definite recommendation to get this album.
This is Dire, an indie metal band from Georgia’s release from 2016. We can expect great things from these guys. The first track All Glory just hits you in the face with Christian metal. The growling in the chorus singing all glory to the one true God just blows you away. This is hardcore metal at its best. But wait, they also mix in some melodic hard rock. And they mix it in perfectly. It’s a well produced and mixed metal album. They are full-on Christ-centered lyrics. There’s some doubt these days as to how Christian some of these metal bands are but this is not one of those bands. They bring Christ to the forefront here. I read that they have signed with a record label and hoping for new music from them either late this year or early next. We can expect big things from these guys.
I give them a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
With lead vocalist, Ryan Clark’s side project of electronic pop, we were worried that they’d go soft. But worry no longer. The new release is plenty heavy. There is some electronic sound but it fits nicely. The album is a great release from a band that is just straight heavy metal. They don’t really fit a genre. They’re just straight up metal and they are in your face with it. One Less and Jesus Wept are the hardest tracks on the album. Died in My Sleep has that electronic sound I talked about but it’s still solid. The lyrics are solidly Christian. They’re in your face with their faith and I just love it. I may be biased but I love this album. It’s the release of the year so far in my opinion.
I give it a full 5 out 5 stars. I recommend you pick it up immediately.
WOW! Just blown away by this show. The set up was 2 stages, a main stage and front stage connected by a catwalk. This kept the show flowing. Hollyn opened on the front stage with three songs. Then Capital Kings hit the main stage and played a short set of their dance music style with Hollyn joining in for a song. I’m not a club guy but it was energetic and made you feel like dancing. Next up, Ryan Stevenson hit the front stage and played another short set with his hits. He mixed in a little acoustic set and some rap. Interesting mix, look forward to hearing him do a full set this summer. Next up was Mandisa on the main stage and she was awesome. She’s been gone since 2013 when a tragedy hit her life and she walked away from God and music. But her story went on to show how she’s made her way back. Her songs and testimony were inspiring. Mac Powell from Third Day fame was next with his country band. He’d played a nice little set of his Third Day hits, some gospel and a little of his country music. Then Matt Maher took the main stage and hit most of his worship favorites. His band is awesome and I loved that we got some straight worship at this show. Then we took a short break with a short testimony for the Feed the Hungry charity.
After the break, Tobymac and his Diverse City band hit the stage wth a set that lasted 70 minutes or so. He hit all his more recent hits going back to 2006. What a showman Toby is! His band is unreal good, too! Mandisa, Hollyn, Ryan Stevenson and Matt Maher all had guest appearances and Toby bounced between stages. This show was awesome and the stage shows were very professional. There were great Jesus stories and testimonies mixed in with the music and the songs were all Christ-centered. This show was as good as any secular show I’ve ever seen. It was so good that I definitely recommend seeing if you get a chance. This isn’t typically my style of music but these guys make you want to jump up and dance for Jesus! Tobymac has had a long and illustrious career and puts on one phenomenal show. Tickets were inexpensive and I was 3 rows up from the floor on the left side of the stage but could see everything with both stages and there were screens too. The show was close to a sellout. It was pretty packed. Great job by the sound guys as the show sounded fantastic.
I don’t usually rate a concert but these guys deserve 5 out of 5 stars.
This is the new project from Jason Wisdom, the former lead singer of Christian death metal band Becoming The Archetype. But he’s come up with a totally different sound while still getting his trademark growls into the vocals. What makes it so interesting is that for a metal band, there are no electric guitars. There’s a bass guitar, drums, and keyboard/synthesizers. It makes for a very electronic metal sound. It very interesting and I really like the different sound produced. I would say it compares to the secular band, Nine Inch Nails. A definitely different sounding metal and pretty unique to the Christian genre. My favorite song so far is Wake Me(when I’m dead). But make no mistake, Jason is a full on board Christian and it speaks in his music. My only complaint is that there’s no lyric book with the cd. It’ll take me time and google to delve deeper into the lyrics of this album. It’s a 10 song cd but several songs are short and this is more of a long EP, than a full album. I hope there’s a longer release not far down the road. I’d have to classify them as kind of industrial metal. It’s a sound I enjoyed in the 90s and it’s nice to see Christian music come out with this sound. I give the album a solid 4 stars out of 5 for a real good solid start. Can easily see them going to 5 stars with their next release.
What to say about Disciple? This is their 13th studio release and they continue to stay true to form. They’re always good with a nice mix of harder stuff and the power ballad and they do it again here. For me, the ballads God is with Us and Empty Grave are standouts. From empty grave, longtime vocalist Kevin Young sings, my scars had drowned out all my faith and goes on to say, where you resurrect me leaving an empty grave.
The whole album is solid stuff from a band that is just that, constantly solid. It’s another really good album from them. I have a lot of their albums and they never disappoint. It’s good, solid metal with Christ-centered lyrics at the forefront. What amazes me is that this band is as good as it gets in Christian metal but what I just can’t figure out how they just don’t have the crossover success like bands Skillet, Red, Thousand Foot Krutch and Demon Hunter have. But don’t get me wrong, they’re an extremely successful act with a good sized following.
For this album, I give them a solid 4 stars and hope they keep going for years to come.
It’s November 2006, I’m new to downstate NY and a brand new born again Christian. Totally clueless about how to read the Bible, I start at the beginning with Genesis. But what do I do about music? I love hard rock and heavy metal. Do I have to give it all up? Discovering the Christian Living Store, that is now gone, I find I can sample music there. Right off the bat, I discover Skillet’s Comatose album and I’m blown away. This is Christian music? My love of metal can still work for me? I buy the cd and instantly listen to it over and over and over again.
The opening song, Rebirthing blew my mind and still does today. The album totally worked for me. Ten years later, does Comatose still hold up? It sure does, maybe not as great as my original experience, but it’s still a game changing album. It’s symphonic metal at its best, blending hard guitar riffs with many heartfelt ballads. The album has since gone platinum and other than Stryper is the best-selling Christian rock album out there. This album took them into the stratosphere of crossover appeal. The secular world has taken notice of the band and history will show that they get better with each release. Playing both secular and Christian festivals, Skillet is a huge headlining act now.
Yes, the album still works for me. The second song, The Last Night, speaks directly to me and my own struggles with mental illness. The album is beautifully laid out. My only complaint being that there may be a few too many like sounding ballads, but I’m an 80s metal guy where that was normal.
Even today, I give this album a 4-star review. If you’re looking for something slightly heavy and a true game changer in the business of Christian music, pick this one up. It’s worth a listen. You can listen to the full album below:
Silent Planet, a metalcore band from California’s second full-length release knocks it out of the park much like their first release. With an excellent blend of screams and melodies, Everything Was Sound deals with struggles of mental illness. The band is not afraid to go after the social issues of today’s society. In an interview with lead singer Garrett Russell, the band revealed some liberal theology but sometimes that can make the best music. They have scripture entertwined in their lyrics and they’re obviously sold out for the Lord. With music that is loud and in your face, they talk about man’s fall and why mental illness exists. For me, the album hits home, tackling a difficult but often ignored subject in the church. I give this album a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is another stellar 2016 release.
Listen to Everything Was Sound Here:
From my first listen, this album just blows me away. Most albums take me a few listens to fall for, especially hardcore heavy metal. I like to read the lyrics and then listen again but that was not the case for this album. It’s a perfect blend of screams and melodic singing. Everything just blends together in perfect harmony, with the lyrics going deep throughout the album dealing with abusive relationships. The band is not afraid to call abusers the cowards that they are. Norma Jean rocks as hard as any band out there, but more than that this is definitely the most polished that I’ve heard hardcore metal.
I first discovered Norma Jean back in 2006 right after getting saved and listened to Redeemer. I was shocked that Christian bands could sound like this. Norma Jean is more Christians in a band than a Christian band with some controversy to the lyrics. In the song 1,000,000 watts, they drop the f-bomb at the end of the song. It’s hard to hear but it’s there. I don’t agree with using curse words and try hard to avoid it myself. I think our language is to seasoned with salt but not salty but I will not condemn this album for their use of the word.
Quite simply this is my favorite album of 2016 and it was a stellar year for Christian music. I cannot recommend this album enough and can easily give 5 out of 5 stars. It may not be everyone’s taste but if you like good, hard metal, give this a listen.
Definitely a heavy metal band with good screaming. This is the group’s third release and might be a little controversial as the lyrics are pretty dark and delve into the violence and sometimes hopelessness of today’s society. The first track is titled, “Pissed Off” and you might wonder what’s Christian about that but we should be pissed off at the violence in society. I don’t find the language is an issue. My favorite song is ‘Cold Room’ and the best lyric is “I know it’s hard to forgive yourself, but there is life beyond the pain.”
I think that’s what I love about this album, yes, it’s dark and life can be dark but we know we have a light in Jesus. I’m glad that don’t shy away from the tough stuff.
I’m giving them a solid 4 out 5 stars. Definitely check them out.
This interesting band fits into the genre called power metal, which is more popular in Europe than in the US. It reminds me a lot of Stryper or from early Dream Theater from the secular scene. There’s no screaming and you can easily hear the lyrics. My favorite song is, “The Wonder Of It All.” A bit of the lyric is, “giving to receive, you’ll be exalted through humility. True freedom found through slavery. Behold: What a mystery. Last shall be first, a living water for eternal thirst. Two natures and a virgin birth, all woven in this story’s tapestry.” In Around the World and Back, they sing, “Grace has a way of building hope out of despair. Peel back layers of the baggage that you bear. And watch your great confusion vanish in the air.” Also give a listen to, A Call To Arms. There’s no doubt through these lyrics that this a Christian band, not simply a band made up of Christians. The heavy metal genre is filled with both, which each have their place. There is no doubt that Theocracy is a full-on Christian band wearing their faith from head to toe in their lyrics.
4 out of 5 stars. Overall, very close to perfect. Give them a try.
Album Review by Donn King
This album is different from the band’s earlier releases, which I really liked. This one is a change of pace, definitely softer metal for them. It is more in line with Demon Hunter’s sound. I like the album a lot, as much as I love the harder albums, it’s nice to understand the lyrics easily which are Christ-centered and solid. Speaking of lyrics, Aftermath’s lyrics read, “Weep no more rejoice, punishment is paid. I feared the One who bears all sin. Will you take me in Father? Cover me with Your blood.” The song is Fountain which lyrics are taken from an old hymn called, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” written by William Cowper. The lyrics include “Ever since by faith I saw the stream your flowing wounds supplied. Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.”
The album ends with the song broken bones which really speaks to me. “Don’t be nervous to face that truth that you’re not fine, you never were. So don’t be frightened to see the Light when you open up your eyes. Now I’m alive, would you believe it? My heart is clean though it was so defiled. Now I’m alive, would you believe it? Inside these broken bones.”
I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars. And I’m a tough grader. I definitely recommend giving this album a listen.
Album Review by Donn King
This two-day event taking place in September in upstate New York brings some of the finest worship leaders and artists for an unforgettable experience. The first act that I saw was Stars Go Dim performing their hit, “You are loved”. Arriving late I missed some of the earlier acts of the day. After Stars Go Dim Love and the Outcome took the stage. The band is a husband/wife team and a drummer. They played about a 45-minute set hitting most their hits, including their new one, The God I Know. They were fun and a good way to prepare us for the night ahead. We were told that MercyMe was unable to make it because Bart Millard was having voice issues so they had some surprises for us. First up was a new guy on the scene, Zach Williams. You might know his hit Chain Breaker. He’s got a nice solid, southern rock sound. After that, John Torres from Goodwill church in Montgomery, NY gave a short message. This was followed by the up and comer, Jamie Grace. She was so full of energy. Her songs are upbeat and focused on God. What was a fun surprise for the night she was! The headlining act for the night was Sidewalk Prophets. They played for about 90 minutes and performed almost all of their hits! I was surprised at just how many hits they’ve had. The best song of the night was their rendition of, I’ll Fly Away, which they performed with one of the earlier acts Brothers McClurg. It was fun and full of energy. They ministered with great stories in between their songs. The first night ended around 10:45. Fantastic first day of Worship in the Adirondacks.
I arrived early and things got going with the first act of the day, Brothers McClurg. They’re from Buffalo and they play a bluegrass worship style. The one brother has an unreal Afro. It’s just huge! They were a great way to start the day. Next up was Humble Tipp, a rapper from Liberty university who got the whole place moving. Next up was NLC music, a worship band from Next Level Church. They hit a bunch of worship favorites and a couple of their own songs. After that, John Tibbs who seemed like an up and comer from New Jersey bringing us nice guitar tunes. He’s overcome a stutter to sing. Very cool! After that was the JJ Weeks Band. They played some of their hits for an hour long set and basically stole the show for me. Next was the northeast’s favorite Dave Pettigrew with some great worship songs including some hits in the worship genre. After that came well-known worship leader Paul Baloche. He and his wife Rita head up a ministry called leaderworship whose goal is to provide authentic worship songs and practical resources for worship leaders and teams. You may not have heard them but Paul has written a bunch of hit songs and performed them all tonight for a great worship experience. A good message followed from a guy named Tony Wolf. It got us ready for the headliner act for this two days worship experience. Jeremy Camp took the stage around 9 and played a short 75-minute set. I think he cut it short cause of pending rain. He hit all his most recent hits and really did a wonderful job ministering with great stories. My personal preference would’ve been to hear more of his early hits. You can’t really argue with the set list, can you? Turns out he wrapped up the night just in time because within 15 minutes of the end, the rains came pouring down ending the second day.
My overall impression of the two-day festival is that it was a great worship experience. in a nice intimate venue with easy meet and greets. Just a really good time! I already spent the $45 and bought my ticket for next year, which will feature the Newsboys. You should think about attending.
Worship in the Adirondacks Review by Donn King