Friday, November 19, 2010

Spotlight On The World

A huge pet peeve of mine is those who crave attention. Most of this comes in the form of acting out, dating someone, or being extremely loud. Also, most of the time, this stuff is handled with semi-moderation and in the appropriate places. However, one place has caused me to become livid with the people who show off during this: church services or worship services.

Be advised: this is just a venting blog. I do know signs of Christ-like worship and the physical symbolism that comes with that. However, the purpose of this is to strengthen the faith of others as well as yourself.

It makes me both physically sick and emotionally disappointed when I see people try to get attention during church services. There is a very strong difference between true worship of GOD, and worship of yourself to GOD. I cannot tell you how many times I go to chapel and see people who raise up their hands and yell and dance around like crazy...on the first verse of the first song! Yes, I understand using physical acts as worship, and yes one could make the argument that that's how they worship. I agree, I do think that hand-raising and jumping is an act of worship. But I find myself extremely skeptical when it happens every chapel service (3 times a week) during the first verse of the first song. I don't doubt the power of the Holy Spirit though, but is the worship really genuine?

Another area where this problem is occurring more and more lately is in the worship leaders. I understand this feeling; I've sung worship a number of times, and the feeling of singing in front of everyone is empowering. However, Satan has a way of letting pride slip in and get to worship leaders. I'm sure others who do worship at their church can also relate to this. It's such a small temptation that can creep in and cause our entire demeanor to change.

I find it shocking (kinda, not really) that Satan has the audacity to sneak pride in even during our worship services. I don't mean this blog post to scold nearly as much as I mean it as a warning. During worship, remember who the music and the act is really to: GOD. Yes, worshiping physically is okay. Feel free to put your hands up, sit down, jump, dance around, whatever you need; just make sure it's genuine worship. And try not to disturb others either. Remember, worship is a connection between you and GOD, thanking him for your blessings, don't interrupt that connection for someone else.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"The Powerless Rise" Album Review

Track Listing:

01. Beyond Our Suffering
02. Anodyne Sea
03. Without Conclusion
04. Parallels
05. The Plague
06. Anger and Apathy
07. Condemned
08. Upside Down Kingdom
09. Vacancy
10. The Only Constant Is Change
11. The Blinding Of False Light

Few metal bands have enough zest to be thrusted into the spotlight. Not true with As I Lay Dying. Probably the most well-known Christian metal band in existence, As I Lay Dying has been on a 3-year album hiatus. Tim Lambesis has been busy with Austrian Death Machine, his solo project, while all the other members are spending time with family and friends. Finally, they have returned into the mainstream metal. And with their return, and their new album "The Powerless Rise", all I can say is two words, "MY GOODNESS!!!"

This may be in the running for one of the greatest metal albums of all-time. Also, as this is posted one week before the official release of the album, it could be a possibility as Christian music's first album atop the Billboard Top 200.

But why is this so good? It brings back something that most metal bands are lacking, sheer intensity. "Upside Down Kingdom", which is considered the title track for this album, starts off as most of the songs do on the album; catchy guitar riff (which sorta sounds like the Rich Mullins song 'Awesome GOD'), which leads into Tim Lambesis's incredible screams. Most of the choruses (chori...I don't know the plural of "chorus") on this album slow the extreme pace of the verses down to a calmer tone. Josh Gilbert, who is the clean vocalist, as well as rhythm guitarist, brings along a melodic tone that could very well move some people emotionally.

There are, though, the tracks that every AILD album has, completely brutal. "The Plague" is that example. Starts off fast, ends fast, and the meat and potatoes of the song are just as insane. This song is also a challenge to cover guitarists, as the skillful time signature changes can make any musician tremble with worry.

Now, for quickies. "Anger and Apathy" is over far too quickly, with a chorus that makes me feel goosebumps inside, complimentary of a smooth transition from the double-bass drumming and the fast-paced rhythm. "Condemned" sounds ripped directly from AILD's previous album 'Shadows Are Security', bringing along with it some of the similar melodies from 5 years ago. "Beyond Our Suffering" could easily be confused with a song by Austrian Death Machine, as it is just grit-your-teeth brutal. "Anodyne Sea" is a great example of what AILD does best, insane guitar riffs, fast drums, and amazing screaming vocals.

There are a lot of very similar words used in the quickies above, such as brutal and intense, but there is one song that may be my new favorite metal song of all time, "Parallels". Starting off with a simple, yet catchy, guitar riff, it then bleeds into a pulsating double-bass session that would make any amateur drummers feet bleed from the attempt of trying it. It then brings along something AILD isn't too well known for anymore, breakdowns. But the real zest of this song lies within the bridge, as it is filled entirely of clean vocals, and is the longest clean singing in the entire album. The lyrics, "We are not the same as I hope to show. There is a better way if we just let go." is the main highlight of the chorus and the entire song that just makes me personally think about our lives as christians and how we reflect our witness to others.

"The Powerless Rise" may just set the standard for all other christian metal bands to abide by. Despite this, it is not perfect (as I do thoroughly enjoy AILD's 'ballads'), but it is pretty darn close. I'd gladly wait another 3 years after the release of this album if they think they can top this. It's gonna be pretty friggan' hard though if you ask me!

  • Everything

  • Nothing

Overall: 5/5

Recommended Downloads:

  1. Beyond Our Suffering
  2. Anodyne Sea
  3. Parallels
  4. The Plague
  5. Upside Down Kingdom
  6. Or you could buy the whole album!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Is A Christian?

Fellow Readers! I am a Christian! A lot of people are confused what it really means to be a christian. So here's a little elaboration on what it means to bear that title (to whom it may concern, you know who you are, this is not a list of steps to salvation, but what I feel the ideal christian should be, or strive to be):

A christian must love GOD more than themselves.

It's not easy putting something or someone else in front of your own life. Humans, by nature, like to feel like we are in full control of what happens to us. Unfortunately, though, GOD decided it would be best if we had a much smaller brain than we could, and gave us the inability to imitate GOD. By doing that, he left ingrained in us the ability to love him more than we can possibly fathom. The Trinity itself is not easy to comprehend, and I don't think we ever can, but if we keep our eyes set on our father and our creator, we don't have to worry about it; he'll put us through and show us exactly what we need at that time.

A christian must realize that the world is not the truth.

Despite what the world says, no it is not okay to be a practicing homosexual (I Corinthians 6:9-10). With that said, I must also say, I love gay people, just like I would any other person in the world. However, the fact that they are covered in that sin, I cannot bring myself to supporting gay marriage or gay rights, because I feel that by supporting gay marriage, they get the idea that I'm tolerant of their sin, which I'm not. Remember readers, hate the sin, not the person.

A similar ideology appeals to drinking. Yes, if you are of age and responsible, it is okay to drink IN MODERATION. However, it is NOT okay to get drunk (Ephesians 5:18). The world disagrees, and classifies teenagers and college students as a bunch of party-hard, good-for-nothing, irresponsible animals! However, if we abstain from drinking, that stereotype can go away quickly. However, modern teenagers and christians alike find it difficult to put down the beer and walk away. Readers, brace yourselves, I'm about to blow your mind. Yes, you CAN have fun without drinking alcohol!

The most successful witness is provided by sight, not sound.

A non-christian is very easy to convert, with the right tools. It's not going to be nearly as easy telling someone that you love them, as it will be showing them that love. How convinced is someone going to be that you are loyal to GOD if every other word you say is a swear word? (Ephesians 4:29) Smiling, helping someone in need, and truly caring are all ways of helping get the point across that you really do love GOD and your life. I hate to break it to some of you, but it's really difficult to convert someone with showing off how much Biblical knowledge you have.

Go to church. It may be more than you expected.

The main focus of ministers and deacons these days is all about fun and numbers in a church. Honestly, numbers mean nothing. The Bible stresses the fact to go to church(Hebrews 10:25); it doesn't matter if more are here or if more are there; just have church! The fact is, we are all one body. Christians should not fight one another, as I have struggled with in the past, but instead help each other through truthful advice and personal reconstruction. Accountability is not supposed to be fun or easy. Personally, I want the person who is accountable for me to kick my butt metaphorically. I don't want a slap on the wrist, a band-aid, and a "Have A Nice Day" ending! Christians need to be more assertive in our helping of other christians. It's okay to take a little mental change; it helps to make a person stronger in their faith.

I enjoy the shotgun approach to ministry once in a while. A little food for thought is always good! And remember, this is an opinionated blog! I encourage others' inputs on what I've said. Also, thanks again for the support! No one is making you read these, but just by visiting my blog, whether positive or negative, you are supporting me, so THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"The World Is Λ Thorn" Album Review

Track Listing:

01. Descending Upon Us
02. LifeWar
03. Collapsing (ft. Björn "Speed" Strid of Soilwork)
04. This Is The Line
05. Driving Nails
06. The World Is a Thorn
07. Tie This Around Your Neck
08. Just Breathe (ft. Christian Älvestam of Miseration)
09. Shallow Water
10. Feel As Though You Could (ft. Dave Peters of Throwdown)
11. Blood In The Tears
12. Desire the Pain (DELUXE EDITION)
13. Driving Nails (String Mix) (DELUXE EDITION)

Why must great bands make us wait a long time for albums? It seems like I'm running into that problem a lot...Anyways, Demon Hunter has returned! Two new members and two LONG years later, they've finally thrust themselves back into the Christian music spot light, bringing their signature metalcore style and dark lyrics. However, is this a new sign of things to come for the future of the band, or is it a cookie cutter impression of their albums before?

Something DH has always been so good at is taking the Biblical word and throwing it in your face like a train hitting a deer; not an easy task for any Christian band these days. For those who have no idea who these guys are lyrically, think of them like this: these guys bring out those insecurities in your faith that you didn't realize you had. Needless to say, by listening to this album, you just may feel dirty about yourself, as they have that signature metal feel of "you're not doing it right; this is how it should be done sucka!"

This is evident in one of the most intense songs on the album, "Tie This Around Your Neck", as the lyrics read 'This is the age of the dead; the generation of pagan and self-led. You can feel the bones shatter beneath our feet.' Not an easy thing for anyone to hear, but it's true. But if you've read my blogs for more than 10 minutes, you know that I preach heavily on this kind of stuff.

But I digress...

So how are the songs? Fast. Heavy. Intense. Brutal. Chaotic. This is probably one of their most technical albums as they very smoothly transition from the growling they are famous for, to a clean sonnet of guitar and lyrics, back to the fire and intensity they have brought us for over 10 years. Nowhere is this more evident than in the song "Shallow Water", which can only be described as a heavy ballad. It sounds as if they are fed up with our sinful society, claiming 'pray for the rain; let it redeem their lives'.

"Collapsing" is probably the track most people have heard from this album. It is, more or less, a summary of every single song Demon Hunter has ever produced; very clean in some places, intense in others, causing a sense of euphoric head-banging in every one who listens. "Feel As Though You Could" may bring some to a feeling of absolute exhaustion; lots of time signature changes and heavy guitars, not including a chorus that feels as it is a break away from an intensive, stressful society some may live.

There is a reason I'm not going as in depth with some of the musical aspects of the album. Frankly, I'm not trying to do it on purpose, but there is really no other way to put it: it sounds like every other Demon Hunter album. This is definitely not a bad thing. They still bring those amazing ballads they do so well, such as "Blood In The Tears" and "Driving Nails". By the way, if you are reading this, I highly suggest you at least listen to those two songs, because it may bring out a feeling in you that you've never thought would come from a metal album, sorrow.

Now for my favorite time, short and sweet descriptions of songs! *Insert catchy theme music*! "Descending Upon Us" is an amazing way to start off the album, truly epic and brutal. "LifeWar" is so good, yet so short; which is a huge mistake on their part, as it brings gargantuan potential! "This Is The Line" is a great song...that's all I really have to say about that...nice drumming in the bridge though! "Just Breathe" and "Feel As Though You Could" provide great fillers for the heat this album brings, as they are fast, heavy, and make you wish they would never end.

Overall, DH brings another great metal addiction that won't be cured for a while. Despite the fact that it is very similar to their other albums, it isn't bad. At all. I don't think it'll bring in too many new metal fans though.

  • A headbangers paradise
  • Brings out a dark side of christianity most people don't see
  • Good for a quick rockin' out session
  • The vocals and drumming are supremely good
  • Grade-A ballads


  • A lot of the same guitar riffs
  • Not much differentiality between some tracks
  • One or two more truly brutal tracks couldn't hurt
  • Mainly for metal heads. Sorry, Grandma...

Overall: 4/5

Recommended Downloads:

  1. Descending Upon Us
  2. Collapsing
  3. Driving Nails
  4. Tie This Around Your Neck
  5. Blood In The Tears

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Tonight" Album Review

Track Listing:

01. Tonight (ft. John Cooper of Skillet)
02. Get Back Up
03. Funky Jesus Music
04. City on Our Knees
05. ShowStopper
06. Changed Forever
07. Hold On
08. LoudNClear (TruDog10)
09. Hey Devil
10. Wonderin (ft. Matt Thiessen of Relient K)
11. Captured
12. Start Somewhere
13. Break Open The Sky (ft. Israel Houghton)

Oh Toby! It's been two and a half since you released "Portable Sounds" and how we've missed you! But the real question, does "Tonight" quench our thirst, or are we parched for more?

The answer is...

"Tonight" is one of the best albums of Tobymac's solo and DC Talk career. There aren't a lot of christian artists that can really come close to his writing abilities, and it shows here. "Tonight" is an absolutely astounding blend of his signature rapcore/hip hop songs, soft rock ballads, and truly inspirational music.

The album truly shines throughout most of the songs. "Funky Jesus Music" sounds like a lost DC Talk song remade. It's such a groovy beat that even your parents will start shaking it. And it becomes pretty clear, Toby is not afraid to put Jesus into everything! A lost virtue these days in christian music. "Get Back Up" is more of a softer song, yet still delivers and satisfies anyone's appetite for some good ol' Diversity. "ShowStopper" brings up the question: "Why don't more bands make songs like this?" I wouldn't be surprised to hear this being used in many ESPN Gametime Moments, as its guitar makes you feel like you could rock for hours.

And who could forget Truett? This little guy has started to grow up and brings his own little groove to the album in the form of "LoudNClear". First time I heard this, I honestly laughed out loud. Oh how sibling rivalry humors me!

"Hey Devil" feels ripped out of the 90's. That's not a bad thing. This song feels like it could very easily be placed into DC Talk's "Free At Last", and no one would mind. But the best song on the album is by far "City On Our Knees". This is so far from Toby's usual beats, but it is actual a very beautiful song! This truly shows that christians can still bring religious lyrics to a song, and make it an instant hit.

But is the whole album perfect? Actually, no it's not. "Wonderin'", a song combined with Relient K's Matt Thiessen, seems like it would be the perfect match. Unfortunately, though, it is actually a weak link in an otherwise titanium build. I found myself pressing SKIP when it came to this song a few times, as it failed to live up to my expectations. Is it bad? Not at all, far from it. But it strays so far from the formula, it makes me personally wonder "WHY!?"

My overall verdict: BUY BUY BUY! This is TobyMac at his absolute finest. There really isn't anyone in the world who can find themselves taking this out of their CD player or off their iPod for a long long time.

  • Tracks 1-9
  • Rockability
  • Lots of hippin' and hoppin'
  • Toby never falls away from his faith!
  • Truett


  • "Wonderin'"
  • The font is a little hard to read on the cover...

Overall: 5/5

Recommended Downloads:

  1. Tonight
  2. Funky Jesus Music
  3. City on Our Knees
  4. ShowStopper
  5. Hey Devil

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Memento Mori" Album Review

Track Listing:

01. Beautiful Bride
02. Again
03. Chasm
04. Missing
05. This Close
06. The Kind
07. In The Dark
08. Set Apart This Dream
09. Swept Away
10. Tiny Heart
11. Melting (interlude)
12. Treasure
13. Circle
14. Arise

As a follow-up to Flyleaf's Platinum-selling self-titled album, they release "Memento Mori" on Tuesday, November 10. It has been three long years since we've seen any new material from the quintet, but is it worth the wait?

This is one of those album that grows on you the more and more you listen to it. As the album starts off, the first three tracks bring them back to the hard rock beginnings that vaulted the band into the limelight. "Beautiful Bride" is a very addictive song that you will be rocking out for weeks to come. "Again" mixes the beautiful voice of Lacey Mosley with some synthesized guitar riffs and simple drum patterns in a formula that just clicks. "Chasm" is much like "Again", except the main guitar riff is so catchy, you'll be tapping your foot and nodding your head along even without realizing it.

After this, though, the album starts to slowly decline. Some of the songs start off strong and then grind the fast-paced action to a grinding hault. "Missing" has amazing potential, but something about it feels like they could have applied a little more into it. "Treasure", however, is one of the more spiritual tracks on the album, and it shows whether you agree with Lacey's spoken intro or not.

This is a much more religious-based album than their first. Although, the first was good, this expands on that formula ten-fold. For example, "In The Dark" paints a picture of the fears experienced by new found Christians, and the trails and tribulations faced. "Again" is about one's struggle to stay focused on GOD during hard times.

Overall, this album should be listened to over and over before buying. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great effort on their part, but after three years, some people expect more.

  • Very Religious Lyrics
  • Lacey's Voice
  • The first 3 tracks

  • Repitition
  • Feels like we did this already 3 years ago
Overall: 3/5

Recommended Downloads:
  1. Beautiful Bride
  2. Again
  3. Chasm
  4. This Close
  5. Treasure

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Does The Church and AIG Have In Common?

The church is in trouble!

Quite a blunt statement to start off a blog with, but it's the truth. People can throw numbers out there left and right about this many people getting saved and that many people going to Jesus. However, the more and more I hear about this, the more I see society fall to the wayside. I heard a statistic that every day 76,000 people are lead to the Lord. What I find most curious, if that is a victory, then where is the evidence of it?

The fact is that people and churches are replacing what people want to hear about the world instead of preaching what is Biblical, God-given truth. It shocks me today to see christians support gay marriage, even though the Bible is very clear about it being a sin (I Corinthians 6:9-10). The problem is that we are so wrapped up inside the world and what the world says, we get confused with what is and isn't Biblical reality.

If the Bible claims the world as darkness, and darkness is the absence of light, and light is described as GOD, then why do we turn to others for our opinion on the world instead of turning to what GOD says?

The problem is that churches and people care more about entertainment of a church than they do about the actual message itself. Any sports team will tell you that games are much better than practice, but without practice, the games become hogwash. I know some christians who won't even attend another church because they don't have a band or a dynamic pastor. Doesn't the main support of being a christian come from being able to stand up on your own two feet for GOD? Your preacher isn't going to be able to stand beside you on judgement day and tell GOD all the nice things you've done in life; you're the one who has to face it yourself.

This blog was WAY more blunt than most of my previous blogs, but sometimes, the fuse is a little shorter than on other bombs.