Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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Artist: For Today
Album: Breaker
Release Date: 8/31/10
Label: Facedown Records

In today's heavy music scene, many bands aim high, some hitting their goal or missing it. In the case of For Today and their new album, Breaker, they have certainly hit the mark and gone beyond. One of the reasons that account for this is their burning passion for God, that cannot be denied in this breakdown-heavy album, the third release from the band. Besides the fast, heavy side to the album, there are also more melodic parts as well, contained in the numerous gang vocal sections heard throughout Breaker. Lyrically, the album talks about being defiant against the generation and letting our fire for our Creator burn strong.

Breaker starts off with one of the four spoken word tracks that are split up throughout the album, the first of the group being aptly titled "The Breaker's Origin." It begins with a somewhat chilling feel, which explodes into   the album's lead track, "Devastator." The resounding chorus of "Let my name be feared at the gates of Hell, as I exalt the Savior" reigns as one of the most memorable verses heard on the album. Just when you thought it couldn't get any heavier, "The Advocate" follows. The heavy breakdowns and bass drops that fill the song are some of the most aggressive heard throughout Breaker. The track that very well expresses the album's theme would be "Seraphim," which has vocalist Mattie Montgomery growling "Burn, and let the whole world  see! You were made to burn."

The following track, "Arm The Masses," comes as one the highlights of Breaker, with a great guest vocal section from Drew York of Stray From The Path. His higher, hardcore punk sounding screams accompany Mattie's well, which add a unique depth to the track. Shane Raymond of Close Your Eyes also adds vocals on "Phoenix," which contains the most dominant section of gang vocals heard on the record. The triumphant "King" declares "Long live the King!" which both begin and conclude the track. The last spoken word track, "The Breaker's Commission," serves as the closer to the album, also being the best of the four tracks. It ends with a choir that turns the track into a simple but powerful worship song to fittingly end Breaker.

Rating: 9/10 With Breaker, For Today have given us one of the top metal albums that this year has had to offer so far. The music and ministry of For Today serves as a battle cry to this generation of believers and non-believers alike, burning with a fiery God-given passion. At this point, For Today are not slowing down, and will not be be anytime soon.

  1. The Breaker's Origin
  2. Devastator
  3. The Advocate
  4. The Breaker's Valley
  5. Seraphim
  6. Arm The Masses
  7. White Flag
  8. The Breaker's Encounter
  9. Phoenix
  10. Psalm of the Son
  11. King
  12. The Breaker's Commission
(Buy Here)

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Impending Doom have just premiered the title track video from their recently released album There Will Be Violence. You can see it now exclusively on

Pick up a copy of There Will Be Violence here:
And don't forget to get your tickets for the Impending Doom / White Chapel / Miss May I / Oceano tour.

Oct 1 - Macon, GA @ The 567
Oct 2 - Ft Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
Oct 3 - St Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
Oct 4 - Jacksonville, FL @ Rain
Oct 5 - Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
Oct 6 - Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
Oct 7 - Raleigh, NC @ Volume 11 Tavern
Oct 8 - Norfolk, VA @ Norva
Oct 9 - Jermyn, PA @ Eleanor Rigby's
Oct 10 - Hartford, CT @ Webster Theater
Oct 12 - Boston, MA @ Harper's Ferry
Oct 13 - Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance Theatre
Oct 14 - Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Oct 15 - Toledo, OH @ Headliner's
Oct 16 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection
Oct 17 - Elgin, IL @ Mad Maggies
Oct 19 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
Oct 20 - Sauget, IL @ Pop's
Oct 21 - Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
Oct 22 - Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
Oct 23 - Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
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War of Ages have just announced The Project AK-47 Tour, a fall headlining tour with The Color Morale (Rise), The Great Commission, Legend (Rise), and The Contortionist (Good Fight).
War of Ages will be donating a percentage of their tour proceeds to Project AK-47.  For more information on P AK-47 visit their website.

Oct 8 - Erie, PA
Oct 9 - Dayton, OH @ The Attic Club
Oct 10 - Cleveland, OH @ Peabody's Downunder
Oct 11 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
Oct 12 - Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
Oct 14 - St. Paul, MN @ Station 4
Oct 15 - South Bend, IN @ Church of Heartland
Oct 16 - St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Oct 17 - Little Rock, AR
Oct 19 - Douglasville, GA @ The 7 Venue
Oct 21 - Lynchburg, VA @ Crosspoint Venue
Oct 22 - Redericksburg, VA @ The Refuge
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At the heart of The Ember Days is a zeal for communion – a zeal for communion between the created and its Creator. In light of the oftentimes tacky and inwardly focused music created for Christians, The Ember Days uses authentic and quality musicianship. “We want to just write sincere and honest worship,” Jason says. “We strive to write music that is inspiring. And not just for the church, but music that even someone who isn’t a Christian can listen to, find beauty in, and enjoy,” he continues. “We desire to see unity in the body of Christ, and we see worship as a great tool for unity. Churches of all denominations seem to agree that God deserves glory, and that is a great thing!”

They have held true to these principles with the Finger Painting EP. It brings more of Janell’s beautiful vocals and a whole lot more of the band’s captivating and pulsating instrumentals. “These new songs are a great representation of who we are,” Jason shares. “This EP captures how we play live. There’s a lot of instrumental parts. It’s great music to just sit down with and open your Bible.”

ABOUT The Ember Days:
 In 2006, Jason and Janell Belcher began the band with a desire to create epic and accessible worship music. To date, the band has put out one full length and one EP. Your Eyes Light Up released in 2007 and The Ember Days EP came out in 2008 – both earning them New Zealand Music Award nominations for Best Christian Album. They’ve toured extensively with fellow New Zealanders’ Mumsdollar, Arms Reach and All Left Out. In addition, they’ve toured the U.S. with Showbread and The Glorious Unseen. Their travels have taken them to play at various festivals including Parachute, Soulfest, Sonshine Festival, Revelation Generation, Cornerstone Festival and Spirit West Coast. They can be found online HERE.
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Blood In The Gears

Artist: The Showdown
Album: Blood In The Gears
Release Date: 8/24/10
Label: Solid State Records

The Showdown have officially "arrived". Their newest effort Blood In The Gears is a mix of everything that worked on both Temptation Come My Way and Back Breaker, but without the filler and some added elements that have never been utilized by the band to this point.

From start to finish, this album is amazing. There is not a filler track in the bunch. For the most part, every song uses a growled verse and sung chorus, but these vocals, provided by David Bunton, are by no means whiny or soft, but in contrast have a dirty grit to them.

To choose album highlights would be a very difficult thing to do, since every track has been crafted so well, so I'm going to focus on the tracks that contain elements that were thoroughly unexpected. "Bring It Down" is a hundred percent unadulterated ride through speedy thrash metal. This track is so fast that has an almost thrash/punk sound in the drumming. It was great to hear The Showdown finally tackle this style of metal.

"Dogma Enthroned" is by far the heaviest song The Showdown have done since A Chorus Of Obliteration. It even has some low death metal grunts in places. Another highlight of the song is the Demon Hunter style vocals in the chorus. The album's closer "Diggin' My Own Grave" is a great choice for a closing track. It starts out as a ballad before exploding into a wall of guitars and becoming a great Southern rock song.

Rating: 9/10 Blood In The Gears in this reviewer's opinion is by far the best and most complete album that The Showdown have released. Fans of all their previous albums will find something to like here. Thankfully, The Showdown have learned how to balance their Southern roots with their shredding, more aggressive metal side. Blood In The Gears has become their Magnum Opus.

Reviewed by Matthew Alexander

  1. The Man Named Hell
  2. Heavy Lies The Crown
  3. Bring It Down
  4. Take Me Home
  5. Blood In The Gears
  6. Dogma Enthroned
  7. No Escape
  8. The Crooked Path
  9. Graveyard Of Empires
  10. Diggin' My Own Grave
(Buy Here)

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Zombie EP

Artist: The Devil Wears Prada
Album: Zombie EP
Release Date: 8/24/10
Label: Ferret Music

The Devil Wears Prada are back with their living dead inspired Zombie EP, but don't be alarmed, The Devil Wears Prada are on our side on these fast paced five tracks. The band has changed a few things up this time around, showing right off the bat. Their sound has grown heavier and faster, the screams and growls from vocalist Mike Hranica have improved, going from high to low quite smoothly, and the clean vocals from guitarist Jeremy DePoyster have also become a less utilized part of their sound, not to say that they are absent, which is not true to any extent.

Right out of the gate, the faster elements are shown on the opener "Escape." A heavy layered keyboard rhythm is contained, mixed with the heavy, fast riffs, which are also heard on a few other tracks as well. Another standout track would be "Revive," which sets an eerie tone with an orchestral section, offering a bit more depth to the project. "Revive" is also the only track that the clean vocals are one of the dominant parts of the song structure. The closer "Survivor" is the EP's other highlight. It has more of a melodic sound to it, with the clean vocals that come in momentarily some of the strongest heard from the band.

Lyrically, you won't find any messages or anything in the lyrics, being completely about zombies and fighting them off (on "Survivor"). This EP is mainly just for fun, but does show the band progressing into a heavier sound that just might work for them on future projects.

Rating: 7/10 The Devil Wears Prada have become one of the biggest names in today's metalcore scene and have returned with their newest project, the Zombie EP. It isn't too much in depth, due to being based around zombies, the EP is a fun listen. Although this EP won't place near my top metal albums of the year, it is also not a bad listen and is put together well.

  1. Escape
  2. Anatomy
  3. Outnumbered
  4. Revive
  5. Survivor
(Buy Here)

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A Plea For Purging is heading out for a fall tour with The Bled, Oh Sleeper, and Let Live. Plea is touring in support of the summer release of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sep 22 - Lancaster, CA @ Allied Arts Cedar Center
Sep 23 - Bakersfield, CA @ Jerry's Pizza
Sep 24 - Fresno, CA @ Club Retro
Sep 25 - Modesto, CA @ Modesto Virtual
Sep 26 - Portland, OR @ Satyricon
Sep 27 - Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
Sep 28 - Spokane, WA @ The Blvd
Sep 30 - Ogden, UT @ The Basement
Oct 1 - Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
Oct 2 - Wichita, KS @ Eagles Lodge
Oct 3 - Little Rock, AR @ Downtown Music
Oct 6 - Wichita Falls, TX @ The Hangar
Oct 7 - Lubbock, TX @ Conference Cafe
Oct 8 - Fort Worth, TX @ Ridglea Theatre
Oct 9 - Waco, TX @ Art Ambush
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The Facedown Summer Sampler is now available for free download exclusively from!  

Our newest sampler includes a dozen tracks from your favorite Facedown bands, and don't miss the as-yet unreleased track from For Today's upcoming album Breaker.  Click here to download your copy of the 2010 Summer Sampler: 

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Impending Doom will be direct support for the upcoming Whitechapel tour this October with Miss May I, Oceano, and I Declare War. Doom is on the road supporting the recent release of their third Facedown album There Will Be Violence. Check out the dates below.

Tour Dates:
Oct 1 - Macon, GA @ The 567
Oct 2 - Ft Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
Oct 3 - St Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
Oct 4 - Jacksonville, FL @ Rain
Oct 5 - Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
Oct 6 - Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
Oct 7 - Raleigh, NC @ Volume 11 Tavern
Oct 8 - Norfolk, VA @ Norva
Oct 9 - Jermyn, PA @ Eleanor Rigby's
Oct 10 - Hartford, CT @ Webster Theater
Oct 12 - Boston, MA @ Harper's Ferry
Oct 13 - Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Loft @ The Chance
Oct 14 - Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Oct 15 - Toledo, OH @ Headliner's
Oct 16 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection
Oct 17 - Elgin, IL @ Mad Maggies
Oct 19 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
Oct 20 - Sauget, IL @ Pop's
Oct 21 - Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
Oct 22 - Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
Oct 23 - Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
Oct 31 - Frisco, TX @ Dr. Pepper Arena
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Strike First's As Hell Retreats has just released their first video from their 2010 album Revival. You can see "Inferior" now on YouTube:

And don't forget to check out As Hell Retreats' tour dates to see if they're coming to your town.

Tour Dates
Aug 20 - Memphis, TN @ T.H.A.T. Church
Aug 21- Bessemer, AL @ Regenerate Venue
Aug 22- Jackson, MS @ Club Fire
Aug 24 - Houston, TX @ Nay's
Aug 26 - San Antonio, TX @ The White Rabbit
Aug 27 - Odessa, TX @ The Pine Box
Aug 28 - Roswell, NM @The Unity Center
Aug 29 - Albuquerque, NM @ The Compound
Aug 30 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Warehouse
Aug 31 - Yucca Valley, CA @ Joshua Springs Calvary Church
Sept 4 - El Paso, TX @The Spot
Sept 7 - Waco, TX @Art Ambush
Sept 9 - Hot Springs,AR@ Low Key Arts
Sept 10- Columbus, MS @ The Princess Theater
Sept 11 - Madison, AL @ Cornerstone Church
Sept 12 - Gadsden, AL @ Gadsden Convention Hall
Sept 15- Pompano Beach,FL@ Rocketown Florida
Sept 16 - Kissimmee, FL @ Second Saturday Showcase
Sept 17 - Pensacola, FL @ The Rush
Sept 18 - Saraland,AL @ Saraland First Assembly of God (no Gideon)
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The Winepress

Artist: The Burial
Album: The Winepress
Release Date: 8/17/10
Label: Strike First Records

For those of you who may have missed The Burial's debut EP Age of Deceit, you missed quite a debut. It was quite the breath of air for a stagnant scene. Age of Deceit was filled with brutal yet technical metalcore. Fast forward almost a year and a half later and The Burial are back with their latest album, The Winepress.

A lot has changed in the time between albums for these guys. David Marshall has been brought in for vocal duties, the band has changed record labels from Sancrosanct to Strike First and The Winepress was delayed two months due to that change. Thankfully for the band, these changes are for the best.

The Winepress is a no-holds barred display of brutal, technical metalcore, at times having a deathcore feel to the heaviness. These guys succeed in keeping things fresh for the listener. The songs are not built around chugging riffs or breakdowns, but use those to enhance the beautiful technicality of the guitar riffs. At certain points, I am even reminded of Embrace The Eternal-era Embodyment, with the combination of speed, brutal drumming and the constantly changing riffs.

The Burial even manage to throw in a beautiful instrumental called "Valley Of Decision" to give you a brief rest from their brand of pummeling brutality. Some of the highlights are the title track, with its slower tempo and nice guitar work, "Reconciliation" with its versatile vocals and changes in tempo, and "Delegation Of The Seven Plagues," with its speedy tempo and very technical guitar work.

Lyrically, The Burial do a great job in glorifying our Savior and encouraging believers to live a life of holiness without compromise. The one complaint I do have is the length. The Winepress only consists of eight tracks and less than twenty-eight minutes of music. This to me is even more strange considering the two month delay due to the changing of record labels.

Rating: 8/10 In this scene of copycats, The Burial do enough to stand out and not fall into the abyss of mediocrity. They would find it to their benefit to continue to explore their technical boundaries. The Burial do a great job of varying the tempo in such a brutal style. The Winepress is impressive, but I think they are only touching the tip of the iceberg that is their potential

Reviewed by Matthew Alexander

  1. Intercessor
  2. Demons Never Sleep
  3. The Winepress
  4. Reconciliation
  5. Valley Of Decision
  6. Delegation Of The Seven Plagues
  7. Monolith
  8. Death Conquered
(Buy Here)

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This weekend is almost here and that means that Purple Door is just around the corner! If you don't know already, Purple Door is held at Ski Roundtop in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania and is two days packed with music, art and much more! Who will be going this year?
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The Burial will be releasing their Strike First debut album The Winepress on August 17th and you can hear two exclusive streaming tracks from the album this week on Alternative Press and Hails and Horns.

Pre order The Winepress now at Facedown Records.
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As Hell Retreats has just announced a bevy of autumn tour dates with The Advocate and Gideon. The band is touring in support of their 2010 release "Revival."

Aug20 - Memphis, TN @ T.H.A.T. Church
Aug 21- Bessemer, AL @ Regenerate Venue
Aug 22- Jackson, MS @ Club Fire
Aug 24 - Houston, TX @ Nay's
Aug 26 - San Antonio, TX @ The White Rabbit
Aug 27 - Odessa, TX @ The Pine Box
Aug 28 - Roswell, NM @ The Unity Center
Aug 29 - Albuquerque, NM @ The Compound
Aug 30 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Warehouse
Aug 31 - Yucca Valley, CA @ Joshua Springs Calvary Church
Sep 4 - El Paso, TX @ The Spot
Sep 7 - Waco, TX @ Art Ambush
Sep 9 - Hot Springs,AR @ Low Key Arts
Sep 10 - Columbus, MS @ The Princess Theater
Sep 11 - Madison, AL @ Cornerstone Church
Sep 12 - Gadsden, AL @ Gadsden Convention Hall
Sep 15- Pompano Beach,FL @ Rocketown Florida
Sep 16 - Kissimmee, FL @ Second Saturday Showcase
Sep 17 - Pensacola, FL @ The Rush
Sep 18 - Saraland,AL @ Saraland First Assembly of God (no Gideon)
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Artist: Starflyer 59
Album: The Changing Of The Guard
Release Date: 8/10/10
Label: Tooth & Nail Records

Jason Martin is certainly no stranger to the music scene, fronting Tooth & Nail mainstay Starflyer 59 for nearly 17 years. The signature melancholy indie rock from SF59 is back yet again with The Changing Of The Guard, which is almost sure to be one of the most underrated albums of the year. Not changing it up much musically, the album takes on some darker tones, but still comes across as a solid release.

The mystifying opener "Fun Is Fun" is a good introduction for what follows on The Changing Of The Guard. The chorus of the next track, "Shane," takes on a eerie sound and will stick in your head. One of the highlights of the album comes with the song "Trucker's Son." It contains everything that Starflyer 59 does well, complete with a dreary guitar part and the quirky melodies that the band has become known for. "The Morning Rise / Frightening Eyes" is one of the only tracks that blatantly mentions anything spiritual, but there are other metaphorical phrases relating to spirituality on the album.

As the album comes to the close, "Kick The Can" and "Lose My Mind" end The Changing Of The Guard solidly. "Kick The Can" stands out among the other tracks, which is acoustic fronted, taking on a bit of a  different sound. The closer, "Lose My Mind" does exactly what it's meant to do, close the album off on a high note. Containing such elements as a dark keyboard section and a somewhat downbeat tempo, it's wraps up the album perfectly.

Rating: 8/10 Jason Martin and Starflyer 59 have pulled it off again successfully with The Changing Of The Guard, a good addition to the large discography that SF59 has garnered over the years. While not necessarily earning a spot as a contender for album of the year, this solid release is sure to be one of the year's most underrated releases.

  1. Fun Is Fun
  2. Shane
  3. Time Machine
  4. Trucker's Sun
  5. The Morning Rise / Frightening Eyes
  6. I Had A Song For The Ages
  7. Coconut Trees
  8. C Mar
  9. Kick The Can
  10. Lose My Mind
(Buy Here)

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Peril And The Patient

Artist: Called To Arms
Album: Peril And The Patient
Release Date: 8/10/10
Label: Tragic Hero Records

What happens when you mix a story from one of the greatest authors of all time with progressive metal? The answer is the new album from progressive metal act Called To Arms titled Peril And The Patient, which is based on C.S. Lewis' classic story, The Screwtape Letters. What we have here is an album full of brutal growls and screams that are slightly reminiscent of Zao, mixed with soaring solos that show much skill, epic if you will. Throw in the inspiration from The Screwtape Letters and you have a very rounded off, nearly perfect metal album.

"Patient's Prognosis" starts off the album with Southern metal-influenced riffs leading into vocalist Daniel Grissom's brutallic growls. The next track, "Safest Road To Hell," contains one of the best solos I have possibly ever heard, but is only one example of the expertise guitar work found on Peril And The Patient. The lyrics are very haunting, as they are letters between demons, which is the premise of The Screwtape Letters. Creating a haunting atmosphere on the album is "Ashamed, Awake" which is filled with mainly clean vocals, but a few screams are thrown in towards the finish of the track. The song is somewhat chilling, talking of the feeling of new life found in God. The song's eerie sound certainly sets the right tone for the full effect of the message.

Something that is very unique about Called To Arms is the fact that they take into much care their musicianship. It really shines through on Peril And The Patient, as the drumming is quick and pulsating and the guitars really make a big impact especially, showcased on the solos that show much expertise. Called To Arms may be one of the best progressive metal bands out there today, and that is no understatement.

Rating: 9/10 Called To Arms have delivered quite nicely with their newest album, inspired by The Screwtape Letters, Peril And The Patient. Their progressive metal styling shows much expertise, both musically and vocally, blending together brutal screams and growls with quick paced instrumentation, building up to memorable, soaring solos. This is an album that nearly any metal fan could find nearly perfect, offering such an array of sounds, from Southern-influenced guitars at points to the classic rock sounding solos. Called To Arms have shown to be one of the best progressive metal bands out there today.

  1. Patient's Prognosis
  2. Safest Road To Hell
  3. Pleasure In The Trough
  4. Dead Fire In A Cold Room
  5. Let Sleeping Worms Lie
  6. Vintage Pharisee
  7. A Hedonist At Heart
  8. Our Realism, Our Rejection
  9. Ashamed, Awake
  10. Dismembered And Devoured
(Buy Here)

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Artist: The Museum
Album: Let Love Win
Release Date: 7/27/10
Label: BEC Recordings

There are many bands out there in today's CCM scene that all certainly show their love for God, but there are a few that really stand out. The Museum are one of those bands. While containing a pop rock sound that isn't anything groundbreaking, their lyrics really show a hope that some people just need to hear. The sounds of their debut album Let Love Win get their message across loud and clear, that there is a deeper love found in God that we all need to depend on everyday, no matter what circumstances.

Many of the songs are undeniably radio friendly and are almost sure to get some good recognition, such as the album's first single, "My Help Comes From The Lord." Among the others, songs like "You Are Love" would seem fitting for a youth group, with it's high energy and declaration of God's love, while the title track seems branded for radio as well. "Allelujah" is done very nicely, adding a depth to the worship song.

Rating: 7/10 The Museum have gotten a good start with Let Love Win. Their message of God's love and hope is nicely expressed through their pop rock sound and are sure to get the recognition they deserve at radio. A nice debut from The Museum.

  1. Never Look Away
  2. You Are Love
  3. Let Love Win
  4. My Help Comes From The Lord
  5. Lost In You
  6. Buy This
  7. The Call
  8. Allelujah
  9. Radiance
  10. The Only One
  11. The Anchor
(Buy Here)

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The Heart of Man

Artist: In The Midst Of Lions
Album: The Heart Of Man
Release Date: 8/3/10
Label: Facedown Records

I will be the first one to say that first impressions aren't always accurate. My initial take on In The Midst Of Lions' latest, The Heart Of Man, was one of "surprising disappointment." I loved their brutally heavy, technically inspired debut Out Of Darkness and assumed they would continue to improve.

At first listen, I could see the improved technical proficiency, but the songs also seemed to fall into the "monotonous breakdown" trap. I would like to announce that I am glad I kept listening. The Heart Of Man up's the brutality, technicality and overall songwriting found on Out Of Darkness.

I don't even know how to categorize this beast of an album. The guitar riffs and leads are very melodic and technical a la the Swedish melodic death metal bands. The double bass drumming, blast beats and growls have an American death metal sound, and there are breakdowns a plenty like what is found in most modern deathcore or metalcore.

Matt, the vocalist, does a great job of switching between the low death grunts to a high, almost black metal, shriek at times. His vocals add a nice touch to their sound. My opinion of the once "monotonous breakdown" has changed as well. The breakdowns are in fact well done, very heavy and at times have a unique disjointed quality.

In The Midst Of Lions are in my opinion the best death metal, deathcore, death-whatever band in the scene now, and it isn't even close. Every song is exceptionally good and choosing highlights won't be done, by this writer at least. On a side note, Levi The Poet is enlisted on a few tracks and his performance adds a haunting depth to the album.

Rating: 8/10 In The Midst Of Lions have managed to blow away by lofty expectations with The Heart Of Man. They have improved in every area substantially. Though not covered above, their lyrics will definitely lift your heart toward Jesus. Between the great music and beautiful lyrics, I don't see how you can go wrong with this album.

Reviewed by Matthew Alexander

  1. The Heart of Man
  2. The Pharisaic Heart
  3. The Machine
  4. Abandonment
  5. Opposition
  6. At the Feet of Creation
  7. Released
  8. Defiance
  9. Home
  10. Fearless
  11. An Awakening
  12. Reborn
(Buy Here)

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Christian Rock Rocks recently talked with Tim Skipper of House of Heroes about their new album and touring.

Christian Rock Rocks (Brooks Ginnan): Could you say your name and what you do in House of Heroes?
Tim Skipper (House of Heroes): I am Tim Skipper and I play guitar and sing in House of Heroes. I also do most of the driving. ;)

CRR: I've always wondered, how did HoH get started and what is the meaning behind your name?
Tim: House of Heroes was birthed from another band that we had back in high school called No Tagbacks. That was more of a pop-punk thing and it was fairly disastrous, so we decided to move on to a little something different both musically and otherwise. We had all this new music and no name so we gave ourselves a deadline to choose a name. When that day came, we had a vote and House of Heroes won over The First Time and The Black Fantastic. It didn't mean anything at the time, but we've been made aware of the verse in Nehemiah 3 that refers to "the House of the Heroes." My understanding is that the House of the Heroes was where David had his best soldiers buried. I think that's pretty darn cool.

CRR: So after your album The End Is Not The End that was surely received as a classic, how do you think your new album Suburba compares?
Tim: It's a strange position that we're in right now because we've spent the last 12 years making music together trying to get people to pay attention and we just couldn't get a whole lot of people to notice us. So it was really easy to just go about making the music that we wanted to make and not have any pressure of having to deal with people's expectations. So it's weird now to hear people use superlatives such as "classic" and the like to describe The End Is Not The End. We definitely felt some pressure to make Suburba REALLY good, but most of it was self-imposed. When we all got in a room together to write the album it became really easy to just connect with each other and do what we've always done; make the music we wanted to make and felt passionate about. I think the general feel of Suburba is entirely different from The End Is Not The End and that was intentional. We wanted the album to have a very youthful, American vibe to it, so that's the approach we took. We kept our favorite things from The End (such as vocal harmonies and big riffs), but we applied them to a different canvas, so I feel like Suburba is a different beast all together. It's like comparing two brothers. They are the same, but they are entirely different.

CRR: So Suburba is set to release August 3rd. Could you explain how the recording for that went?
Tim: The recording was all of the following: fun, fast, strange, relaxed, stressful, easy, a great learning and growing experience, cold, depressing and exciting. We all went in very well rehearsed wanting to do everything in one or two takes to keep the youthful energy of the songs in tact. We also had limited time to record the album because we were heading out on tour very soon. Colin (Rigsby, drums) and AJ (Babcock, bass) flew through the drum and bass parts in two and a half days which is INSANE!! And then I did the guitars in just a few days, and the vocals came together really well also. The stressful part was dealing with member stuff. Jared (Rigsby, guitar/vocals) was trying to figure out how to balance being in a band with having a new marriage and Colin was about to have his second kid. After the drum parts were done, Colin quit the band to be with his family, so in addition to trying to finish recording the album in time to go on tour, we had to find a new drummer to do the tour with us! Fortunately it all came together, and we actually finished all of the background vocal stuff on the off days of the tour. I have really fond memories of that time despite it being so stressful and strange. Working with Mark Townsend again was great too. He was very relaxed and focused and we all did a lot of growing musically and spiritually during that time.

CRR: What are some of the stories behind the lyrics?
Tim: The album started out being a linear story about the summertime when you are young. A coming of age story if you will. There was a well-intentioned kid who fell in love, then got mixed up with a kid who was a bad influence and made some poor choices that led to a little involuntary manslaughter and the two of them running from the law. In addition to this, the protagonist had an uncle who was a father figure to him, but also a cop. So the uncle was put in a tough place of being a father figure to this well-intentioned kid and upholding the law. At the end of the day though, it became too hard to tie it all together in the time we had. And we had a lot of great songs that we weren't going to be able to use because they didn't fit the story. "Relentless" is the first song on the record and it's the song that introduced the main character and the girl (Sandy - a tribute to Bruce Springsteen) that he falls in love with. "Independence Day For A Petty Thief" is the song where he makes his first bad decision to rob a house with his friend while the 4th of July fireworks are going on. That song was actually written a few days after we went to the fireworks one year and we dumbfounded to find that so many people left their houses open while they were up the road at the park to watch the fireworks. "Disappear" was originally about the main character and his friend being on the run after hitting a man with their car and killing him. Someday, I'd like to finish the story, then release an EP of the songs that complete the story and let people put them together with the songs from Suburba like a puzzle.

CRR: What was the process of writing this album?
Tim: We knew we wanted to write this album about stuff we knew and had been through after writing an album about wars we weren't even alive for, so we started off like we always do just writing tons of parts. A verse here, a chorus there, a sweet riff, etc. Then we started finishing the ideas we liked and the lyrical stuff that AJ was writing started to tell this story. So we started writing for the story and got about six or seven songs in, but couldn't figure out how to end it. It was also becoming a much bigger project than anticipated because we would feel like we had a cluster of songs that made sense together, but then we'd need another song or two to tie that cluster together properly and the record was going to end up being 17 or 18 songs. So, we decided to just go with the theme approach instead of the conceptual story approach and that opened us up to using all of these songs we discarded along the way. It turned out we had about 30 nearly-complete songs that we could use, so we picked the best ones and that ended up being the record.

CRR: What messages do you hope fans get out of Suburba?
Tim: For me, this is an album about dreaming big and chasing those dreams, but then reconciling the inevitable disappointment of things not turning out exactly how you planned. And then accepting that it's okay. I had planned on being a rich rock star by this point in my life. I had planned on being married and owning a house and maybe having some kids, but my life is WAY different than what I thought it would be when I was 18. And that is okay with me. I have learned a lot along the way. Mostly that nothing is permanent here on Earth, and for the most part, things will not go the way you plan for them to go. The realization for us in this band is that God is one of the very few, if not the only really, consistent things in this life. And living a life of service and filled with love, living like Jesus Christ, with an eternal perspective as much as we can, is the most productive way to live and find happiness. I really hope people can find themselves in these songs and come to realize that it's ok when things don't go your way. That John Lennon lyric is really true. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

CRR: What audiences are the new album geared towards?
Tim: Anyone who will listen to it. Ha! Seriously though, that is true. One of my favorite things about our band is that we have a big classic rock influence. So while kids of all ages love the music, their parents will often times come to shows with them and love our music just the same (and sometimes even more). So hopefully the album is geared towards people that just love good music.

CRR: What are your plans for touring this summer and fall?
Tim: We are doing a short little CD release tour with a band from Grand Rapids called "The Brave Youth". Then we're playing Purple Door Festival and heading to the Netherlands to play Flevo Festival. After that we're doing a few more festivals and some spot shows with our neighbor and friend John Reuben. Then, this fall we're going out with The Almost for a few weeks followed by a west coast run in Oct./Nov. with The Classic Crime and Abandon Kansas. It's going to be a fun few months!

CRR: Anything else you'd like to say to your fans?
Tim: Thank you guys so much for supporting our music? We'll keep making it in one way or another so long as you keep buying it and coming out to the shows. We've had a lot of set backs through the years, and hopefully it's made us more appreciative of the fans that we have now. We'll do our best to never take you guys for granted! Thanks for doing this interview! Much love and God bless you.
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Suburba [+digital booklet]

Artist: House of Heroes
Album: Suburba
Release Date: 8/3/10
Label: Gotee Records

Nearly two years ago, a band named House of Heroes graced the whole Christian music scene with their hard hitting album The End Is Not The End. Critics and fans alike were all certainly pleased and it was not hard to see why. Now, House of Heroes are back with their new album Suburba, that certainly fulfils the expectations to follow up an album as big as The End Is Not The End in high style. This time around however, the inspiration behind the album is American themed, talking about the life of a teenager. Some of the songs certainly have more of an upbeat rock tone to them, but as a whole, Suburba is full of infectious harmonies sure to capture the listener.

The opening sounds of "Relentless" capture the energy and precision of Suburba, certainly setting the tone just right. "Elevator" shows off the rock sense heavily, along with the line "This elevator goes straight to the top of the line" that is sure to get stuck in your head. The high energy "Love Is For The Middle Class" tells a story of love, which is followed by "So Far Away" that serves as an anthem. "God Save The Foolish Kings" follows in the same sense, which features guest vocals from the talent of label mate Stephanie Smith.

The softer acoustic sound that House of Heroes have also grasped well is not forgotten, with "Salt In The Sea" serving that purpose. Immediately kicking back into full gear is the witty "Independence Day For A Petty Thief," yet another upbeat rocker. A full chorus sound proclaiming "I want the truth" is showcased on "Somebody Knows," which seems to follow the same lyrical theme as it's predecessor, continuing the story of a robbery and getting turned in. The mysterious atmosphere set on "Disappear" is nearly haunting, but also has a feel of a few of the songs found on The End Is Not The End. Another love song is found on "She Mighty Mighty," containing a heavy bass line that sets a groove, intertwining with the expertise guitar work.

The ballad "Constant" found on Suburba is pulled off perfectly, in fact one of the album's highest points. The lyrics hit straight to the heart and are very honest at that. The closer "Burn Me Down" turns up the energy and cranks up the guitars, that are played with a crunch. Tim Skipper's soaring vocals are great on the song, the perfect closer for a perfect album.

Rating: 10/10 Without a doubt, House of Heroes have delivered excellently again with their new album Suburba. No doubt is this the album of the summer, House of Heroes have followed up The End Is Not The End perfectly. From the opening sounds of "Relentless" to the closing guitar work of "Burn Me Down," Suburba contains something for everyone, guaranteed not to disappoint.

  1. Relentless
  2. Elevator
  3. Love Is For The Middle Class
  4. So Far Away
  5. God Save The Foolish Kings
  6. Salt In The Sea
  7. Independence Day For A Petty Thief
  8. Somebody Knows
  9. Disappear
  10. She Mighty Mighty
  11. Constant
  12. Burn Me Down
(Buy Here)