Release Date: July 28th 2017
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Sky Is Falling
- Sins Of Our Fathers
- Heart On My Sleeve
- Mercy Meets My Pain
- Till The End
- Into The Fire
- My Last Words
“…Found came from the heart and hits me every time I perform it. The truth is, I was singing every night on stages all over the country ministering to others, but inside I felt empty. I poured myself out but never filled back up. I was too ashamed to tell my pastors how empty and depressed I was feeling and I ran to things that left me emptier than before. Food became an addiction and I isolated myself in embarrassment of the weight I had gained. I came to realize I was so empty because I wasn’t allowing myself to rest in Him. As St. Augustine said, ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.’ When you lose that closeness with God, nothing you have or accomplish will fulfil you. It’s the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus that has kept me all these years. From delivering me from a $400 per day cocaine addiction to my present situation, He is faithful!…” One of the most popular yet also criticised Christian rock bands is Seventh Day Slumber. That’s a fact. No matter if you love them or hate them though, no one can really deny their passion for Jesus. Hailing from Dallas Texas, the band have had a very extraordinary journey so far. With the formation of the band stemming from and holding roots in lead singer Joseph Rojas’ testimony (Joseph formed the band after surviving from overdosing on cocaine during his teenage years, then giving his life over to Jesus), SDS throughout their time as a band have created plenty of albums of many different styles to suit all different types of listeners. After releasing 2 rock albums (Once Upon A Shattered Life and Finally Awake), the worship albums followed, as Joseph and his friends decided to expand their musical horizons, and since ventured out to a more softer and vertical worship focused style, with the next few albums Take Everything, The Anthem Of Angels and Love And Worship. Yet with such critical acclaim and love for their rock efforts, the past three worship albums were acclaimed by some and detested by others.
Then came a label change. VSR Music Group has now been home to 3 Seventh Day Slumber efforts, each of them with varying degrees of success. The band dropped We Are The Broken with mixed success in my opinion, in 2014, while 2015 saw the band unveil a short but punchy EP titled Redline, with the band truly diving back to their rock roots, with passionate vocals, explosive guitar solos and the sound that we all loved and admired. It’s was a step in the right direction for fans who loved the edgier, harder rock sounds of Seventh Day Slumber. So why does it feel like something is slightly lacking a tad in Found , the latest album from the band and the first full length album since 2013’s Love And Worship? Though I commend the guys for recording an album that not many people expected (with Found including ballads and rock tunes!), let’s dive in and holistically dissect this 35-minute offering of rock/worship goodness.
“Sky Is Falling” opens proceedings, and from the first promotional single, we are presented with an SDS sound more akin to their earlier rock roots, maybe even heavier. For lovers of CCM, these two tracks are not for the faint-hearted, while lovers of Skillet, RED and Disciple would love what SDS are doing here. And while I’m not the biggest fan of hard rock, Seventh Day Slumber’s tracks do indeed have their place in the music industry. While “Sky Is Falling” contains explosive guitar riffs and intense electric guitar solos, there’s a relevant message nonetheless, with Joseph ardently crying out that ‘…you think the sky is falling, from the weight of the chains that you won’t put down…you can breathe, it’s alright, it’s not over unless you give up the fight…’, reminding us that every bad situation can be and often does get used for God’s glory, and we shouldn’t despair as if the world is ending; the second promotional single “Horizon” follows and is a guitar led ballad similar musically to their earlier hit “Caroline”, as Joseph ardently reveals to us that whenever we feel alone in this life, we can fix our eyes to Jesus, the only One who can heal and comfort us completely.
The tempo is dialled back quite a bit in the acoustic guitar led ballad and title track, where Joseph passionately recounts the story of the prodigal son, where ‘…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, now I’m found…’, in what I can only describe is the band’s crowning achievement on this album (complete with a bridge refrain of the chorus of “The Old Rugged Cross”); while hard and heavy seem to be on the ‘menu’ for the next two songs in “Sins Of Our Fathers” and “Heart On My Sleeve”. The former is a prayer of desperation, asking God to break the sins of our fathers, and declaring that everything our ancestors did, do not have to be the things we do, as we are our own person; and the latter is an in-your-face no holds barred declaration of wearing our hearts on our sleeves, that what you see is what you get, that no one can tear us down because of our authenticity and the fact that we are real in public and in private.
Breaking the album up into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ is quite inventive, as the ballads “Mercy Meets My Pain” and “Till The End” are next. While the former, led by vibrant keys, is as radio friendly as ever, and has Joseph ardently crying out that ‘…there’s no light without the darkness, and without my struggle, I can’t be given peace, through all the chaos and madness, you are working for my gain, and in my darkest night, is where your mercy meets my pain…’, that God meets us where we are at, no matter what, and He forgives us instantly; “Till The End” is unfortunately an album lowlight, as the song doesn’t really resonate with me for one reason or another. With repetition and cliché lyrics abounding, there’s also a lack of passion here that probably isn’t the band’s fault, given that the previous song “Mercy Meets My Pain” is one of my favourite SDS songs ever. Weird huh?
“Tomorrow Breaks” is yet another rocker, and could be perfect for a head banging concert or mosh pit where listeners jump and down and bobble their heads, as Joseph fervently reminds us that feelings make us human, that ‘…falling into the fire has never felt so real…’, while the penultimate melody “Fallen” is a track The Letter Black, Flyleaf or Fireflight would record, and sadly I could not enjoy the song as much as I probably should have, considering that it gave me a splitting headache- but I will try later on maybe in a few days/weeks. The album closer “My Last Words” gives off an “Oceans From The Rain” type of vibe as Joseph ardently praises to God in this ballad, asking him ‘…let my last word be a melody, to the tune in which my heart beats for you, and this place I stand wasn’t the working of my hand, I was carried here only by the blood, I’ll always sing your praise, I know amazing grace will be my last words…’. Simple yet effective, “My Last Words” is the perfect ender of such a varied yet overall solid album worthy of multiple listens. Though not in my preferred genre, Seventh Day Slumber are back to doing what they do best- rocking out and worshipping Jesus Christ at the same time.
When I’ve ‘bagged’ previous worship albums of theirs unintentionally, would anyone believe me if I overall like Seventh Day Slumber’s latest album? Despite a couple of hiccups (“Till The End” and “Fallen”) and perhaps an overall disjointedness that I have overlooked (and can be overcomed by playing the album on shuffle on iTunes!), Found personally shows the best of Seventh Day Slumber musically. Though I believe that Found serves as a welcome and enjoyable alternative, for listeners who want more musical variety and edgier rock tunes, if you love worship, then maybe sticking to Take Everything or Love And Worship may be your best bet. Though I personally loved the return to rock, at the same time I was missing the worship as well, and the jury is still out as to whether Seventh Day Slumber’s vertical worship days are behind them, given that this record is guaranteed to be very popular and respected. Yet all I can say is when another worship album releases, let’s hope and pray it’s more along the lines of Take Everything! So are you a fan of Found? Let us know in the comments below!
3 songs to listen to: Found, Mercy Meets My Pain, My Last Words
RIYL: Skillet, RED, Fireflight, Flyleaf, 7eventh Time Down, Disciple, House Of Heroes