VSR Music Group
Release Date: May 13th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- All She Wants
- We Are the Broken
- Nothing To Lose
- In Too Deep
- Trust In Me
- Comatose State
- Holding On
One of the most popular yet also criticised Christian rock bands, Seventh Day Slumber, hail from Dallas Texas, and they have had a very extraordinary journey as a band so far, considering the redemptive and profound testimony of how lead singer Joseph Rojas formed the band (He overdosed on cocaine during his teenage years, however Joseph dedicated his life to Jesus and turned his life around the year 2000). Perhaps that was why I liked their earlier rock albums, and probably why the song “Caroline” resonated with many fans around the world. With 2 rock albums under their belt, Joseph and his friends decided to expand their musical horizons, and have since ventured out to a more softer and vertical worship focused style. The past three albums Take Everything, The Anthem Of Angels and Love And Worship have all been enjoyable listens, with these worship songs being a great variety and smorgasbord of radio hits and current worship favourites recorded in a rock twist. Despite their worship venture, the past three albums have either been acclaimed by some or detested by others, with me personally enjoying only a few songs overall from each release (some recordings on their worship albums were drastic deviations from original versions).
This year the quartet is back with the album they claim to revolutionise rock music, called We Are The Broken. Recently signed to VSR Music Group, Seventh Day Slumber have only recorded 9 songs at a touch over 30 minutes. Yet there is no denying the passion and heart for Jesus here, and though the album is a mixed bag lyrically and musically, it’s at least a trip back to the past, and thee sound that we all loved and admired. It’s a step in the right direction for fans who loved the edgier, harder rock sounds of Seventh Day Slumber, and I commend the guys for recording an album that not many people expected considering the previous CCM/pop/worship related material.
Opening the track listing is “Goodbye”, seemingly a dismal title for a song meant to breathe life into us. On the contrary, the subject matter is anything but depressing, as Joseph immediately dives in and sings about leaving behind our past, and forging a new path with Jesus. With trademark and stirring electric guitar riffs, and explosive vocals reminiscent of the rock band we all love and know from their earlier albums; we are reassured by Jason that ‘…tears fall from your eyes, they wash away your disguise, can’t you see the battles in your mind? You’re holding onto your past, it’s only holding you back, now’s the time to say goodbye…’, and that God will meet us where we are at, moulding us and shaping us to be godly men and women in the process. Though lyrically this song doesn’t break any new ground, it does take us back to the sounds of SDS from before, and does highlight the strengths of Joseph’s vocals if nothing else. What a moving and thought provoking track that gets us to ponder about the choices we make in life and whether we should be making them or not!
All throughout the rest of the album, I am immediately taken on a time warp, back musically to the Seventh Day Slumber of old. As much as I love the new worship material, it’s a refreshing change to hear Joseph and the band back at their rocking best again! Though a rock track list at heart, what is also great here is that there is still musical variety, as out of the rest of the 8 melodies (isn’t 9 songs too short to be classified an album?), 5 are genuine electric guitar prominent rockers while the other 3 are softer material for fans of their later work.
The head banging guitar heavy “We Are The Broken” talks about our overall lives as Christians, reminding us that we are all broken and in need of a Saviour, that ‘…all that remains of our past are the scars, our eyes are open, we’re not afraid to admit who we are…’, and while the song doesn’t explicitly mention Jesus, it is implied that Jesus is the One who restores us back to completeness and wholeness again, as He loves and accepts us unconditionally. With Joseph singing at his brilliant best, we are met with a potential single and a song that is sure to be a favourite at concerts, and I’m definitely sure that many people will be healed and ministered by this melody.
While the electric guitar high pitched shredding and fast tempo “Nothing To Lose” (reminding me of Skillet or RED musically), is an earnest cry of fervour and desperation from someone at the end of their rope, and is a prayer to God to come and save them from the mess they are in, that He is their last hope; the equally musically aggressive “In Too Deep” echoes the sentiment of urgency, with Joseph’s persona admitting that they ‘…can’t save myself, I’m in too deep, as waves crash down it’s getting harder to breathe, I’m reaching out, God save me now…’. Both songs serve as complements to each other, as both are from the same perspective of someone who has no one else to turn to for their problems or issues, and having both songs present consecutively on the track list gives the melodies greater depth and weight lyrically.
“Comatose State”, yet another potent and powerful electric guitar led hard rock anthem, also delves into being lost and in need of help, as the persona outlines how everyone is ‘sleeping’ around him, being dull and distracted from the things in life that truly matter, by worldly possessions. And by the time one hears the chaotic and noisy, yet powerful guitar led “Holding On”, a frenetic and fast paced pulsating drum and frenetic guitar playing tune, complete with screamo vocals, about holding tight to God, and trusting in His promises and faithfulness; we begin to realise and understand that rock is the band’s forte, and we can understand better the genre that Seventh Day Slumber excel at so much. Loads of guitars do not mean that lyrics are compromised; in fact We are The Broken is one of the strongest albums lyrically by the band; and in my opinion Seventh Day Slumber are performing, entertaining and ministering at their best, when they are energising the listener through a chilling and spine tingling explosive guitar led track.
“All She Wants”, “Skyscraper” and “Trust In Me”, the last few tracks, are the ballads (or as ballad-y as SDS get), with the result somewhat of a mixed bag. While the passionate and earnest guitar led story-song “All She Wants” speaks about a girl who needs Jesus, who is ‘…praying to Jesus won’t You save my soul, she’s begging for mercy, all she wants is love…’, fervently wanting and longing for acceptance and understanding, reminding us that we all can be Jesus for our loved ones in our lives who are hurting; and the album closer, the strings led poignant and slow tempo “Skyscraper”, originally recorded by Demi Lovato and sung quite brilliantly in a rock setting by Joseph, is a motivational and inspiring tune encouraging us to face our fears and rise above our adversaries, whether real or imagined, as Joseph intentionally sings to our fears (and presumably the devil), saying that they have no hold on him anymore; it is the song “Trust Me” which pulls at my heart, as my favourite song. Sung from God’s perspective across light guitar and soft percussion, we are gently shown how when we trust in Jesus, we can live with abandon, as ‘…there’s freedom that you’ve never known, a peace that comes from letting go…a love so deep that knows no end, a refuge from the storm ahead…’. As Joseph prayerfully highlights the fact that being a Christian is one of th most fulfilling things we could experience; I am left praising the efforts of the band. Well done Joseph, Jeremy, Jamie and Ken for delivering a fun, confronting yet also personal and moving album, and one certain to minister and speak to many listeners.
When I’ve ‘bagged’ previous albums of theirs unintentionally, would anyone believe me if I like Seventh Day Slumber’s latest album? With all but one or two tracks showing the best of Seventh Day Slumber, I believe that this album is one of their best rock albums (although in terms of their worship efforts, Take Everything is on the whole better); and my only major complaint would be that the track listing is too short in length, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. Obviously not going to win out on a day where Michael W. Smith releases his long awaited comeback album Sovereign; I believe that We Are The Broken serves as a welcome and enjoyable alternative, for listeners who want more musical variety and edgier rock tunes. While I loved the return to rock, at the same time I was missing the worship as well. 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 pray it’s more along the lines of Take Everything…or Kutless’ past three albums (It Is Well, Believer and Glory)!
3 songs to listen to: Trust In Me, Holding On, We Are The Broken
RIYL: Skillet, RED, Fireflight, Flyleaf, 7eventh Time Down