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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Aint No Grave Records

Ain't No Grave Records have just put up some very nice pre-order packages for their upcoming July 12th releases of Heavy Worship from The Great Commission and Kingdom Days In An Evil Age from Sleeping Giant. The many different pre-orders can be viewed and purchased here. ANGR will also be releasing Volition, the new album from As Hell Retreats, on July 26th, and the pre-orders for that release should be up sometime soon.
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My Epic have posted another new song off their upcoming Broken Voice EP, titled "Alone," which can be streamed on their Facebook page, along with their other new song, "Deathbed." The pre-orders for Broken Voice are available now on the Facedown Records webstore. The EP is available in a number of different packages, and you can also order additional copies for less than two dollars each, to share with friends and family, with any purchase of the EP. Broken Voice will be in stores and online July 5th.
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The annual New Hampshire music festival, Soulfest, have announced their lineup for this year's festival, running from August 3-6. The festival has a wide variety of artists playing this year, including many Come&Live! bands, such as Sons of God, Life In Your Way and Showbread (among others), and will have a lot of mainstream artists as well, such as Switchfoot, The Almost, Jars of Clay and many more. This year's festival is looking to be a great four days, and the full lineup and more info can be found on the Soulfest site
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Fresh off the release of their Separation EP, the band's debut release on Strike First Records, the Connecticut-based Ark of the Covenant spoke with CRR about their EP.

Christian Rock Rocks (Michael Small): Can you tell me a little about the band's past for the people who are just getting into Ark of the Covenant?
Mike Hnath (Ark of the Covenant): Well, we formed in September 2009 as a five piece playing progressive metalcore. But then our lead guitarist left not long after forming due to other obligations which we were totally fine with. So after a while and trying a few different things, we finally settled into the band we are now and have been going full force ever since.

CRR: You recently released Separation on Strike First/Facedown Records. Is there any difference between this version and the one you released last year?
Mike: Musically, it's the same EP. We got new album art for it and put the Strike First logo on it, but that's pretty much the only difference.

CRR: How have things changed for you since signing with the label?
Mike: We've gotten a lot more opportunities for shows and much more exposure since we signed to Strike First. We now have an awesome online store thanks to Facedown with a bunch of sweet merch and our EP.

CRR: Could you explain the meaning behind the songs on Separation?
Mike: Separation mainly talks about how we as Christians are separated from this world through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

CRR: Being a Christian band, do you prefer to aim your shows toward your fellow believers, or try to grab the attention of the secular crowd?
Mike: We don't really aim our show towards one crowd or the other. We just play our hearts out at every show and hope everyone, Christians or non-Christians, enjoy our show and walk away knowing that we play our music for a purpose and aren't just performers.

CRR: What can we expect from Ark of the Covenant in the remainder of 2011?
Mike: Tons of shows all over the country! We'll probably release a new song sometime in the fall. We're also coming out with a bunch of new merch that looks amazing and then we'll begin working on our full length in the winter.

CRR: What's the most rewarding thing about being in a band?
Mike: Performing live by far. It's such an amazing experience playing in front of hundreds of kids and watching them get involved by either moshing, crowd surfing, or just singing along!

CRR: When can we hear the Drowning Pool "Bodies" cover?
Mike: Haha, well I don't know where you got that from, but we still haven't decided if we are actually going to cover it or not. Maybe some day we will do a cover, but at the moment we are just focusing on playing shows and writing songs for our full length.
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The up and coming hardcore four-piece Creations recently took some time to answer questions about their forthcoming debut album, The Gospel, and the background of the band, for CRR.

Christian Rock Rocks (Gary Mark Peterson): Please state your name and your role in Creations.
Blair (Creations): My name is Blair and I play drums for Creations.

CRR: How long have you been a band?
Blair: We've been a band for about two and a half years.

CRR: What are some of the band's influences (whether they be musical, philosophical, or otherwise) and yours personally?
Blair: Some of our main musical influences are No Innocent Victim, Advent, Hatebreed, Impending Doom, The Acacia Strain, Meshuggah, but personally, I love tons of different bands/artists like The Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, Iron and Wine, Shai Linne, Thrice, Mewithoutyou, Copeland, Blindside, The Postal Service, Acceptance, and many others.

CRR: Have you always been a Christ-centered band? How have you been received in regards to the message you carry?
Blair: Since we started the band, we always had in mind to be a "ministry band." There were not a lot of Christian bands in Sydney, Australia at the time and we wanted to preach the Gospel to those in our local scene. We've had tons of different responses, some good and some bad. As our ministry progressed, it became more of a reality to us that being a Christian and preaching the message of Christ is costly and not easy; but when we see someone become transformed by the Gospel, it is more than worth it.

CRR: Are there any differences in being a Christian band is regards to Australia versus America?
Blair: Definitely. There are not many Christian bands within Australia as opposed to America. Unlike America, there is a greater majority of people who do not subscribe to Christianity; so some of the audiences are different in their receiving of Christian bands. 

CRR: I believe you had a short US tour stint only a few years ago. How was that?
Blair: Yeah, we went on tour with In The Midst of Lions, The Crimson Armada, and Sleep Serapis Sleep in winter about a year and a half ago. We also did Cornerstone last year and did a couple summer tours with bands like The Gun Show, Strengthen What Remains, and others. Both tours blew us away and we are stoked to be back on the road again.

CRR: You guys recently announced that you were making the permanent move to the States. I have to say that I wasn't shocked seeing as how well you seem to get along with bands here and such. What prompted this decision and how hard was it to make, if it was hard at all?
Blair: Since we started the band, we really wanted to pursue full-time touring. We've had some awesome experiences in Australia, but we just wanted to be able to consistently tour and the US seemed to provide way more opportunity to do so.

CRR: In my opinion, American fans seem to really love you. Why do you think that is? Is it mostly for musical reasons or is there more to it? Because it seems like people really click with you guys on a level deeper than just musically.
Blair: Ha, I wish I knew the exact reason. My hope is that it is more than just the music but the message of Jesus Christ. Another thing that we stress as a band, is that we are all in fact sinners and that there is no person who is "greater" than the other. Jesus has come to set us free from our sin and in response we are to repent and believe in Him.

CRR: What do you guys like to do for fun outside of the music realm? Any funny stories you'd like to share? Aussies are pranksters, no?
Blair: At the moment, we've been pretty pumped on ballin' with the locals of El Centro, California. I didn't think Australians (I'm not Australian. I'm from the country of Texas.) knew how to play basketball, but I was wrong. Can't think of any stories at the moment; but we definitely have some good times.

CRR: Last time you toured the States, you were supporting the fantastic EP Ruined. Now you boys are back (permanently) for what seems to be a very near future release of the new album, The Gospel. How is the album coming along? What stage is it in (packaging, etc, etc)?
Blair: We recently signed with Mediaskare's sub-label Rite of Passage and we are looking at possibly having a release date in the early summer. We've had the CD recorded for a while now and are excited to finally release it! Pre-orders should be online real soon, so make sure you keep an eye out!

CRR: What details can you give us about the new album? I, for one, am highly anticipating this release.
Blair: The album is entitled The Gospel and it contains 11 tracks. It is a lot more musically heavier and more technical than the last release. You should hear a song or two online very soon, but until then we are looking at an early summer release date.

CRR: What are some things fans can do to bless you at a show? For instance, what can we bring to bless you for doing GOD's will by spreading the Gospel?
Blair: It's awesome to see fans just having a good time at shows and fellowshipping. If every person brought an open mind to the Gospel message and allow it to change your life through the work of the Holy Spirit; that would be an awesome thing for us to be a part of.

CRR: What are ways that fans can reach out to the band if they wanted to give you a place to stay, etc.?
Blair: Whatever anyone is willing to give, we will accept. It's always awesome to have a place to stay on tour, as opposed to sleeping in the van, or even a meal. We would love to just hang out with anyone who would love to get to know us as people. But hit us up on Facebook or Twitter, we are usually always contactable on there.

CRR: Thanks so much for the time and interview. We look forward to the release of The Gospel and to seeing you out on the road (especially for those of us that have not had the privilege of doing so). In closing, anything you'd like to add?
Blair: My hope for all our fans is that everyone who hears the record will come to know Jesus and learn to treasure him above all things in this life. The treasures of this world will never sustain you, but Jesus has come so that you may be set free from the power of sin and bring Glory to His name.
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Onward to Olympas have just released a video for the song "Structures" off of their March release The War Within Us. You can see it here:

OTO will be heading out this June with Before There Was Rosalyn, Creations, and Strike First's The Burial on the Dropping The Hammer Tour.

Tour Dates
Jun 24 - San Antonio, TX @ The White Rabbit
Jun 25 - Dallas, TX @ Dad's Venue
Jun 26 - Tulsa, OK @ Reverb
Jun 27 - Springfield, MO @ Salad Days
Jun 28 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jun 29 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jun 30 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jul 1 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jul 2 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jul 3 - Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival
Jul 4 - Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater
Jul 5 - Steger, IL @ Another Hole in the Wall
Jul 7 - Whitesburg, KY @ Letcher County Tourism
Jul 8 - Cookeville, TN @ Westside Station
Jul 10 - Cape Girardeau, MO @ The Upperdeck
Jul 12 - Grand Rapids, MN @ Solid Rock Church of God
Jul 14 - Willmar, MN @ Sonshine Festival (Facedown Night)
Jul 17 - Sioux City, IA @ The Underground
Jul 20 - Salt Lake City, UT @ In the Venue
Jul 21 - Roseville, CA @ Club Retro
Jul 23 - Yucaipa, CA @ The Paradigm Venue
Jul 24 - Canoga Park, CA @ The Cobalt Cafe
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We are proud to announce the re-signing of A Plea For Purging to Facedown Records!

A Plea For Purging came to Facedown Records in 2007 with a reputation for fire-breathing and amazing technical ability. The band has since released three albums, the most recent being 2010's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, a terrifyingly honest look at the age old wolf-in-sheep's-clothing theme and an auditory thrill. Now the band is looking toward releasing the follow up to The Marriage with Facedown Records in late 2011. 

Label head Jason Dunn says "It's been a privilege to work alongside of the Plea guys, both as a band and as individuals for the past 4 years and I am honored to be able to extend that working relationship. Plea have grown with every album so I am very excited to see where this next album takes them." 

A Plea for Purging will be heading into Random Awesome studio in August to record with Josh Schroeder.

Andy Atkins, front man for Plea had this to say about the band's decision to re-sign:

Though we are still a very small band, 4 years ago when we were absolutely nothing, Facedown and the Dunn family believed in us enough to invest their time and money into us. We were some n00bs from Tennessee that thought we knew everything but really knew nothing. With Facedown's backing, we have been able to travel the world and meet tons of great people through our music. They have always supported us and given us complete artistic freedom. With that being said, it only seems right to continue on with the supportive team we have behind us. We are proud to continue working from within the Facedown Family.
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Emery have just released their new music video for their song "The Cheval Glass," which can be viewed here. The song comes from the band's latest album, We Do What We Want. According to the band's Twitter, they are also working on their forthcoming acoustic album. Emery will be heading out on the second leg of their We Do What We Want tour next month, with Oh, Sleeper and Hawkboy (formerly As Cities Burn). The band will also be playing summer festivals such as Creation, Soulfest and iMatter to name a few, so be sure to catch them sometime on the road this summer.
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MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE are proud to launch the "Nocturnal Alliance Tour" contest!

MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE are offering fans an opportunity to win a stellar prize pack including tickets to the show in their area for everyday of ‘THE NOCTURNAL ALLIANCE TOUR.’

“We are so excited for this tour,” comments MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE’s Matthew Hasting.“We are thankful to our sponsors and friends to make this tour the best it can be. We hope you will help us promote and win some great prizes!”

For contest rules, instructions and information please visit: Facebook and Tumblr.

Winners will be selected based upon whoever achieves the most amount of locations and posts that they can. The prize packs include clothing and merchandise from Heroine (, All In Merch (, 2 sets of headphones from Wicked Audio (,To Write Love On Her Arms (, and members of MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE’s very own new clothing line, Vicious World ( In addition, the winner will receive a pair of tickets to the show in their local area that they are promoting. The winners will be announced three days before each show date. 

Check out MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE on their upcoming tour dates:

Jun. 24th – San Diego, CA – Soma
Jun. 25th – Anaheim, CA – Chain Reaction
Jun. 26th – Fresno, CA – Club Retro
Jun. 27th – Roseville, CA – Club Retro
Jun. 28th – Sparks, NV – The Alley
Jun. 30th – Portland, OR – Branx
Jul. 1st – Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
Jul. 3rd – Calgary, AB – New Black Centre
Jul. 4th – Edmonton, AB – Avenue Theatre
Jul. 5th – Saskatoon, SK – Cosmo Senior Center
Jul. 7th – Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
Jul. 9th – Sudbury, ON – Jubilee Centre
Jul. 10th – Cambridge, ON – 515 Concert Club
Jul. 11th – Windsor, ON – The Blind Dog
Jul. 12th – Toronto, ON – Wreck Room
Jul. 13th – Ottawa, ON – Mavericks
Jul. 14th – Quebec City, QC – CafĂ© L’Agitee
Jul. 15th – Montreal, QC – La Tulipe
Jul. 16th – Manchester, NH – Rockos
Jul. 18th – Clinton, NJ – The Aquifer Music Venue
Jul. 19th – New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre
Jul. 20th – Crofton, MD – MACC
Jul. 21st – Richmond, VA – Alley Katz
Jul. 22nd – Lynchburg, VA – Crosspoint Venue
Jul. 23rd – Raleigh, NC – The Brewery
Jul. 24th – Columbia, SC – New Brookland Tavern
Jul. 25th – Jacksonville, FL – Murray Hill Theatre
Jul. 26th – Douglasville, GA – The 7 Venue
Jul. 27th – Nashville, TN – Rocketown
Jul. 28th – Dayton, OH – The Attic Club
Jul. 29th – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s Downunder
Jul. 30th – Horseheads, NY – The Gate

For more information on MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE, please visit these sites:

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Come&Live! are currently raising funds for their upcoming Arrows Are Deadly summer missional tour. They will be hitting four major festivals and playing regular shows as well. The bands on the tour are Showbread, White Collar Sideshow (featuring Levi The Poet), The Ember Days and Ascend The Hill (on select dates). To find more out more info on the tour and to pledge financially, you can go right here. Also, be sure to check out the large amount of free music that Come&Live! offer in their ministry as well on their site.
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Truer Living With A Youthful Vengeance

Artist: Dynasty
Album: Truer Living With A Youthful Vengeance
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Label: Strike First Records

2011 is showing to be the year of hardcore, with a big release already from Gideon, and upcoming releases from Call To Preserve, Hundredth, and a comeback from legends Life In Your Way. I believe that it's also fair to add Dynasty to that list of good hardcore releasing this year. Dynasty have been playing for six years already, but have recently joined the Strike First family, and are ready to unleash their new full length, the interestingly titled Truer Living With A Youthful Vengeance. While it's nothing completely ground breaking or anything of the sort, the album is full of passionate, in your face, punk-laced hardcore, sure to make the true hardcore fans, who like more hardcore and less metalcore, happy.

The strongest tracks on the album are "Worthless Will," "Wisdom Is Supreme" and "Way Of The Wolf." All burst with energy, each being full of speedy punk drumming, heavy bass lines and throaty yells. "Worthless Will" opens up the album, and has some great gang vocals that yell "Don't waste your breath, unless you speak the truth!" "Wisdom Is Supreme" begins heavily, and has some of the best drumming on the album, while "Way Of The Wolf" starts off on a slower tempo, before a massive bass drop and more gang vocals get the song really going. Other than those songs, a lot of the songs use similar formulas, and there is an unnecessary 45-second instrumental, "Alpha," that is basically just like a lot of the other songs, instrumentally.

Overall: Full of no holds barred energy, Dynasty's Truer Living With A Youthful Vengeance is. Dynasty's anthemic hardcore is full of punk drumming, gang vocals and throaty yells, along with a message of standing for the truth and faith. Although I feel like not all the songs are groundbreaking, a good amount are solid, and are worth giving a listen to. If you like your hardcore without all the breakdowns and clean vocals, and with a raw, hardcore punk spirit, Truer Living With A Youthful Vengeance is for you.

Rating: 7/10


  1. Worthless Will
  2. Voice Of Truth
  3. Wisdom Is Supreme
  4. Triumph And Truth
  5. Alpha
  6. Back To Life
  7. Demolish Strongholds
  8. Way Of The Wolf
  9. Dangerous Minds
  10. Sitting Back

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    The new Hands album is being met with early critical acclaim, and now you can pre-order your copy! Give Me Rest is now available in various bundles for pre-order, including limited edition vinyl which comes with a code for a free digital download of the album. Check out all the different packages available:

    Hands has also released this morning a second new song from the album. You can listen to "The Helix" here:
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    The songwriter of "How He Loves," John Mark McMillan, has announced that his new album Economy will be releasing on November 1st. More updates on the album soon. His album The Medicine was re-released last year,  and you can check out our thoughts here.
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    Artist: Swimming With Dolphins
    Album: Water Colours
    Release Date: May 17, 2011
    Label: Tooth & Nail Records

    I'll go ahead and say that I've been anticipating the new Swimming With Dolphins album for a while now. Since Swimming With Dolphins, helmed by Austin Tofte, signed to Tooth & Nail Records last year, I have been waiting to see how new music would end up, as the once duo's main musician, Adam Young (Owl City), left to pursue Owl City full time, and also left behind SWD to be handled by Tofte. The result of all this is undoubtedly a good one, which is proved true by Water Colours.

    An album written about joys of life and love, Water Colours is full of lively synthpop, that is actually not too much like Owl City at all. Emphasis on the percussion and synths bring a very danceable sound to the table, one that works great with Tofte's smooth vocals. "Holiday" starts it off with a happy, cheery sound and back up vocals from Sarah Beintker of See You Soon, who is also a touring member of Swimming With Dolphins. "Easy" is one of the album's catchiest songs, with big synths and lyrics that will be sure to get stuck in your head. The tongue-in-the-cheek "Diplomat" features a bit of moody keys, and the following title track and "Jacques Cousteau" fall into the middle of the album, and are somewhat less memorable than some of the other tracks on the album.

    "I Was A Lover" is another highlight, being a rather "organic" song as compared to the others, the drums being highlighted on the song, and mellow keys being played, while birds chirping can be heard in the background. The song is cleverly written, with some of the album's best songwriting, "I bought a track jacket, some running shoes, I had no pockets, so I had nothing to loose, took a run from all my winter blues, 'til it was summer." The track that follows, "Captured," seems like it could be a song directed at God, amidst the other songs about relationships, and is one of the album's most downbeat songs, that even features some interesting vocal arrangements and an off-rhythm drum beat (at times). Giving off a darker club feel is "Happiness," which is sung mostly by a female vocalist who goes by the name of Sunsun. The closing "Good Times" also features some guest vocals, but instead of a female vocalist, is Mod Sun, a rapper who adds a hip-hop flair to the fun song.

    Overall: Don't be mistaken, Swimming With Dolphins is not trying to be the next Owl City, but a group of their own, despite being a past side project of Owl City. Fronted by Austin Tofte, Swimming With Dolphins have started it off right with their first full length effort, Water Colours. A lively synthpop album focusing on love and life, the album takes on moody and serious tones at certain times, while at others fun and danceable sounds that will be sure to be received well. Although the album is not a perfect debut, both lyrically and musically, it is one of the more enjoyable and fun albums I've heard lately, and for that, Swimming With Dolphins are worth checking out.

    Rating: 8/10

    1. Holiday
    2. Easy
    3. Sleep To Dream
    4. Diplomat
    5. Watercolours
    6. Jacques Cousteau
    7. I Was A Lover
    8. Captured
    9. Happiness
    10. Good Times
    (Buy Here)

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    Call To Preserve have released the first new song from their upcoming 7" Validation. The song is "Exploit, Neglect, Condemn" and it's up now on Facebook. Validation will be a 7" vinyl record containing 4 brand new tracks from the band, released on July 5, available only on vinyl or digitally.

    The band will also be kicking off their farewell tour this summer with Dead Icons and Strike First's Dynasty. This will be your last chance to see Call To Preserve live, so be sure to come out and give them a proper send off!

    Tour Dates:
    6/15 Fayetteville GA @ 11th Hour Venue ** NO DEAD ICONS
    6/16 Columbia SC @ Unit One Art Space
    6/17 Whitesburg KY @ Letcher County Tourism
    6/18 Cookeville TN @ Westside Station
    6/19 Southhaven MS @ Cafe 549
    6/20 Little Rock AR @ Downtown Music Hall
    6/21 Tyler TX @ The Attic
    6/22 Houston TX @ Cain's Ashes
    6/23 McAllen TX @ VFW Hall
    6/24 San Antonio TX @ The White Rabbit
    6/25 Fort Worth TX @ TBA
    6/26 Tulsa OK @ The Reverb w/ Onward To Olympus
    6/27 Springfield MO @ Salad Days w/ Onward To Olympus
    6/28 Springfield IL @ Black Sheep Cafe

    7/05 Evansville IN @ The Rev ** NO DEAD ICONS
    7/06 Chattanooga @ The Warehouse ** NO DEAD ICONS
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    Sleeping Giant have released their new song "Dead Man Walking," the first off their upcoming third album, Kingdom Days In An Evil Age, set to release July 12th via Ain't No Grave Records. Sleeping Giant will be on the Scream The Prayer tour this July supporting their new album. Pre-orders will be available soon for Kingdom Days In An Evil Age, so stay tuned for more info.
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    Metalcore giants August Burns Red have posted their first single off the forthcoming album Leveler, titled "Empire," on their Facebook page. The pre-order options for Leveler, including the deluxe edition of the album and August Burns Red baseball cards, can be found right here.
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    Artist: Hope for the Dying
    Album: Dissimulation
    Release Date: April 26, 2011
    Label: Facedown Records

    Seamlessness, flow, epicness, whatever you want to call it, Hope for the Dying has it on Dissimulation. Every single track flows into the next one. You can literally put this album in and you would not be able to tell when it switches songs. The continuity of the album is made possible with the use of symphonic strings. The band has used keys and like instruments before, but this is something different, something more. The overall sound of Dissimulation is at times a symphonic, death metal sound. The screams sound like the signature Hope for the Dying screams. There are quite a bit of clean vocals too, many of which are done by a female singer. The female vocals are somewhat overused at times, and lessen the mood and integrity of some songs. The awesome thing about these songs however, is that even though they flow so well, you can still take any given song and listen to it without feeling like part of it is missing.

    The album starts with "Exordium," and the band just says "hey, we're using symphonic elements in our music and this is what it's going to sound like." The album's intensity builds through the songs "Vacillation," "Orison" and "Transcend," until it reaches the climax in "Perpetual Rain." The song includes strings, horns, blasting drums and searing guitars. After this song, the album starts to falter, the clean vocals become more persistent, and the album begins to lose steam. That's why I call "Perpetual Rain" the climax of the album. Each song is also filled with some great, God-loving and inspiring lyrics like: "The hatred you preach won't stand any longer/We've come to rectify/The years of abuse and pain/The bitter taste endured/Till we celebrate/Revere the glory of your demise."

    Overall, if you add the further experimentation of the strings with the signature sound of Hope for the Dying, you get a breath of fresh air in the metal world, in the form of a great album like Dissimulation. There's a lot of positives to this album, such as the strings, the technicality of the guitars and of course the lyrics. However, there are also some negatives, like the overuse of clean vocals (especially towards the end of the album), and the overall loss of intensity at the end of the album. The album is a very good effort, and hopefully the foundation of what Hope for the Dying is becoming.

    Rating: 7/10

    Recommended Tracks: "Vacillation," "Orison," "Transcend" and "Perpetual Rain"

    Reviewed by Michael Small

    1. Exordium
    2. Vacillation
    3. Orison
    4. Transcend
    5. Imminent War
    6. Perpetual Rain
    7. The Awakening
    8. The Awakening: Dissimulation
    9. The Awakening: The Veil Lifted
    10. Vile Reflections
    11. Derision
    (Buy Here)

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    Chances are you're wondering what the members of Haste The Day have had planned after their breakup two months ago, and it's only two months after that former HTD frontman Stephen Keech has unveiled his new musical endeavors. Going under the name Stephen Albert Joseph Keech, Stephen is now playing some indie/folk rock, that could be compared to the likes of bands such as Surrogate. His first single, "Black Coffee," is available for free download and to listen to on Bandcamp.You can also stay updated with Stephen on his site.
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    Out of Williamsport, Pennsylvania is the melodic metalcore quintet My Heart To Fear. The band has recently released their new three song EP, which can be purchased on AmazonMP3 and iTunes, and can be streamed right here. They have also released a new music video as well. My Heart To Fear are on an East Coast tour right now, and will be touring this summer, and playing at iMatter Festival in Elmira, NY in September. You can check out the band's Facebook for tour dates and music.
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    Artist: A Sequence of Ghosts
    Album: Hostage(s)
    Release Date: May 3, 2011
    Label: None

    Last year, I was submitted the debut EP from a small ambient hardcore band named A Sequence of Ghosts. The music on the EP was a lot different from a lot of other heavy music being played, with vocals that were a mix of yelling and screaming, somewhat like Shane Ochsner's (of Hands). Well a little less than a year later, A Sequence of Ghosts have returned with another EP, titled Hostage(s). I wasn't sure what to expect on their new material, but I was no doubt impressed. The band has polished off their ambient hardcore, adding in a metalcore influence, for a much more accessible sound that those new to the band will be sure to really enjoy.

    A slew of feedback and electronic effects fill the opening seconds of "The Enabler," before launching into the frantic pace of the song, completely with blast beats and a breakdown that will be sure to get kids moving in the live setting. "The Hostage" is a favorite of mine, with vocals that command your attention, until the melodic climax of the song, when the sweet voice of Elle Puckett of Poema sings a few lines. The following "The Bee and Its Swarm" and "The Politician" are more straight forward songs, that are both fast and heavy. The voice of Jake Germany is heard on "Reach The Shore," singing parts of the hymn "It Is Well," before the song ultimately ends in gang vocals shouting "It is well, with my soul!"

    Overall: I have found myself very impressed with Hostage(s) from A Sequence of Ghosts, an indie release that will be sure to not go unnoticed. The band has improved and matured greatly since their self-titled EP last year, adding in both more heavy elements, such as breakdowns and blast beats, and more melody as well. Guest vocal spots from Danon Saylor of A Bullet For Pretty Boy ("The Enabler), Elle Puckett of Poema ("The Hostage") and Jake Germany ("Reach The Shore") only add more depth to Hostage(s), a great effort from a young, promising band.

    Rating: 8/10

    1. The Enabler
    2. The Hostage
    3. The Bee and Its Swarm
    4. The Politician
    5. Reach The Shore
    (Buy Here)

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    Separation - EP

    Artist: Ark of the Covenant
    Album: Separation EP
    Release Date: May 10, 2011
    Label: Strike First Records

    The Northeast has been one of the country's best places to find both bigger and smaller heavy bands as of late, and coming out of the area is the Connecticut-based Ark of the Covenant, the newest addition to the Strike First family. Blending together elements of hardcore, metalcore and a small amount of death metal, Ark of the Covenant pack in a bunch of brutality in the 13 minutes of Separation.

    The songs on Separation don't show much variety, and a few have similar sounding intros. "The Introduction" is a minute long intro that launches with a deep, throaty growl, that reminds me of Brook Reeves from Impending Doom. "The Book Of Life" sounds a bit thrashy, but unfortunately seems to drag a bit. A bit of variation is shown on "All the Inhabitants of the Earth" when some clean vocals make an entrance, among some nice guitar work and breakdowns, while a more direct hardcore influence comes into play with gang vocals on "Locusts Look Like Horses." Perhaps the highlight of the EP would be the closing "Separated." The song is mostly spoken word and contains relaxing, ambient guitar work and drums, that build up into a worshipful ending of praises to God that state "You're the only One who matters."

    Overall: Strike First Records' newest band, Ark of the Covenant, have welcomed listeners to their music with the five song Separation EP. The metal that Ark of the Covenant play mixes together elements of thrash, hardcore, metalcore and death metal on Separation, of which are displayed in the wide range of vocals from frontman Alexander Vincelette and bassist Daniel Graves. The lyrics also have one focus, which is on God, and the EP even ends on a worshipful note ("Separated"). The EP is not without flaws however, including a rawness of vocals and similar sounding song structures, but Ark of the Covenant certainly have the time to really polish their sound.

    Rating: 5.5/10

    1. The Introduction
    2. The Book Of Life
    3. All the Inhabitants of the Earth
    4. Locusts Look Like Horses
    5. Separated
    (Buy Here)

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    The Hollow

    Artist: Memphis May Fire
    Album: The Hollow
    Release Date: April 26, 2011
    Label: Rise Records

    On their second album, The Hollow, Memphis May Fire step it up in a big way! The screaming vocals sound deeper and more rooted in the metalcore genre, whereas the band's previous effort, 2009's Sleepwalking, felt like it was more of a southern rock/metal style. The clean vocals have changed a lot as well. They sound less screamo and more along the lines of The Devil Wears Prada's clean vocals, which compliment the screams very well. These two major changes, combined with the overall move towards a more "straight up" metalcore sound, have worked amazingly well on The Hollow. The album shows how much the band has grown and matured in just two short years, and why the band was recently signed to Rise Records.

    One big way to see the growth and maturity of Memphis May Fire is by the lyrical content. The greatest example of this is the opening track, "The Sinner," which is full of excellent lyrics. My favorite lyrics being: "Beneath the sun I am rotting/Just like the ones that came before me/I cannot deny my walk has become a crawl/I've never felt so.../I've never felt so lost!" Another great thing about these lyrics is that after a few lines, you can tell the band has a deep love for God. This is shown in the words: "I need to hear Your voice, I can't do this alone."

    I think these two lyrics describe a moment a lot of us as Christians, myself included, have felt at some point during our lives. The lyrics on every song are great, and touch on so many different subjects. "The Sinner" is about needing God when struggling, and the song "The Commanded" is about a war and the remorse the person feels about the deaths. The versatility of the band's lyrics is downright amazing. I'd suggest reading the lyrics as you listen to the album, they'll blow you away!

    Overall, I think the album is a great step forward for the band, both musically and lyrically. The band has gone to a metalcore sound without sounding like every other band out there and more importantly without losing their identity. You can still hear some of the old Memphis May Fire at times on this album, but you can also tell how they're growing and moving forward. I know I'm looking forward to the next chapter in the Memphis May Fire saga.

    Rating: 8/10

    Recommended Tracks: "The Sinner," "The Victim," "The Deceived" and "The Commanded"

    Reviewed by Michael Small

    1. The Sinner
    2. The Unfaithful
    3. The Victim
    4. The Abandoned
    5. The Deceived
    6. The Commanded
    7. The Burden (Interlude)
    8. The Haunted
    9. The Reality
    10. The Redeemed
    (Buy Here)

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    One Reality

    Artist: Texas In July
    Album: One Reality
    Release Date: April 26, 2011
    Label: Equal Vision Records

    Since entering into the heavy music scene in 2007 and releasing an EP and a full length through CI Records (who have launched the careers of bands such as August Burns Red), Texas In July have been poised to gain attention, being one of the best young metalcore bands out there. This being said, the band's time to shine has come, with their signing to the notable, Albany, NY based label Equal Vision Records, and now the release of their second full length, One Reality.

    One Reality shows Texas In July maturing, with more experimental and melodic riffs, as opposed to the somewhat monotonous, overused chugging riffs heard on most of I Am (their CI full length). While there is still use of some chugging, those riffs are strategically placed in the album's bone crushing breakdowns, and a few other suitable places as well. The production of the album is much tighter than their previous work also, letting frontman Alex Good's vocals be heard more clearly than before. Good's growls have improved a lot, being yet another element showing maturity from the band.

    Although it may be said that some of the songs on One Reality sound similar, it does not take away from the fact that the formula used on each song is used to the band's advantage. A few highlights from the 11 tracks include the two openers, "Magnolia" and "1000 Lies." Both start off with build ups of the aforementioned melodic and almost spacey guitar work, that builds its way into heavy verses. Some great drumming from Adam Gray is heard on the opening of another one of the album's strongest songs, "No Greater Love." The song sets itself apart from the other songs on the album, as it features a strong proclamation of the band's faith, heard on the sermon-like spoken word section that is heard in the song between Good's screams of "There is no greater Love." The band also sets another song apart from the others on "May" as well. Similar to what they did on I Am, "May" is an acoustic instrumental, that shows a different side of the band, and gives the listener's ears a rest before heading back into the heaviness that follows on the rest of One Reality.

    Overall: One Reality shows Texas In July at their best, truly finding their sound. Melodic guitars build into bone-crushingly heavy verses and breakdowns, that fit together with the band's anthemic lyrics written for this generation to leave behind hard experiences in the past, and to stand up for one's faith. One Reality is one of the best albums I've heard as of late from such a young band, and just proves the fact that Texas In July are undoubtedly one the best young metal bands out there today, in both the Christian and secular heavy music scenes.

    Rating: 8/10

    1. Introduction
    2. Magnolia
    3. 1000 Lies
    4. Dreamer
    5. Dying World
    6. No Greater Love
    7. May
    8. Our Freedom
    9. Cyclops
    10. Pretender
    11. One Reality
    (Buy Here)

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    Gideon have just released the video for "Virtue," the first single from their Facedown Records' debut Costs (Mar 2011). Gideon were ranked among Alternative Press Magazine's "100 Bands To Know in 2011" and they continue to make their mark with an appearance at last month's Facedown Fest and now releasing their debut video directed by Drew Russ. The video for "Virtue" is streaming at the band's Facebook profile now:

    Gideon will be playing a benefit show Friday, June 3rd with all proceeds going to help five families in the Birmingham community that lost everything in the recent tornado. Details on that show can be seen here:

    The band also has an exclusive shirt design available in the Facedown online store, proceeds from all sales of the shirt to benefit the families as well. Pick one up in a bundle with the new cd for just $5 more.
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    My Epic are back with Broken Voice, an acoustic-based EP filled with beautiful misfit songs written during the creation of 2010's Yet that didn't quite fit with the sound of that album. Now the band has made a home for those songs, simply written then fleshed out in the studio, on Broken Voice

    According to Aaron Stone, 

    More than anything else Broken Voice is about joy. The last year of my life has been about finally learning that I don’t have to fight G-d to get what I need. I don’t have to prove myself to Him either. Jesus came precisely because none of my own methods would ever work. I had been striving so hard for perfection when all I ever had to do was surrender to it. I never knew where I was headed until G-d broke my will and gave me His. I never sung a song worth hearing until He broke my voice and made it His.

    Broken Voice was recorded in March and April in Winston Salem, NC with Sid Mennon at Sleepwalker Studios. Sid and My Epic go back a long way, all the way to the days of recording demos, and the band wanted to pair up with him again for this EP so they could feel free to experiment with the sound. Most of Broken Voice was written at Machina House, a Christian mission house founded by the band in a poor neighborhood on Charlotte's north side four years ago. "The seeds of these songs, musically and lyrically were planted firmly in the soil of our home community," says Aaron. The band did spend a week in seclusion, locked away in a barn, "trying to make sense of all the parts, but overall it was a very smooth process. The songs had already taken their basic form in the living room and around the burn barrel at Machina House."

    Broken Voice will be released July 5th, and although it is an altogether different sound for My Epic, Aaron notes "This record is not a permanent departure from where we have been headed in the past but simply another focused aspect of what the Lord has placed within us.Normally it would not be possible for us to put out two records one year apart but since these songs were so different it allowed us to keep creating in a vein that hadn’t recently been depleted."

    You can hear "deathbed," a song from Broken Voice right now, here:
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    (May 13th, 2011) Reaching far beyond his home on stage alongside his band mates in the hardcore Christian heavyweights MyChildren MyBride, Joe Lengson has spread his literary wings and released Sleeping in Parking Lots, a novel about love, faith, struggle and the road that can easily be prepared to such hits as blue like jazz . In fact, Lengson wrote the book all over the world while on tour with his band which gives the book a wide array of documented experiences that instantly put the reader right in the story. Though initially, the book began as a hobby, Lengson felt called to dedicate his writings to anyone who struggles with love, loss or accepting God.

    Sleeping in Parking Lots is an engrossing piece of literature that shares tips for living a life on the road, dealing with relationships while following such an unconventional career path and all the expected hardship that come a long with simply growing up. The novel will be available in eBook format on the Apple iBookstore, Amazon Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. It will also be available in paperback format through Lengson’s personal website, as well as his publishing company at The book can also be picked up at MyChildren MyBride’s merchandise table on tour.

    Read an excerpt from Sleeping In Parking Lots below:

    I AM INDECISIVE. I can’t ever choose something and stick to it. I think that’s why I hate war. Because you have to choose one side and fight against the other side. It’s far too pressing of a matter for me.
    Throughout the last years of my high school career, my friendship with Brandon grew not only because we shared a love for music and coffee, but also because Brandon was the only person who ever thoroughly told me of God. I had another friend towards my senior year of high school, Dane, he also explained God to me. I had never been told of God before, I thought God was just a standard conception used to keep people in line, but not really real. The lack of any kind of religion had a major affect on me. I was raised in a non-spiritual home; I never went to church, and had no idea of God or church or anything like that. Though, I was aware of God because I live in America. I was taught that there is a God but I never was taught in depth the meaning and purpose of God. I saw the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” but thought that was just a Hollywood film company making a movie based on a book, like they do with fairytales or novels or comics.
    I had never been introduced to God and did not know the omniscience of God because no one had ever told me in depth. I knew that there was a God, but I didn’t follow or respect God as a guardian over me, just like most of the world doesn’t. I thought, if there was God, He would be sitting on a cloud couch, controlling weather, like in the Disney movie “Fantasia.”
    Growing up, throughout school I would use my imagination and develop my own theories and ideas about the world and the way that it works. In school, it was mandatory to teach both sides of the beginning: The Creation Theory, and The Evolution Theory. I remember my science professor was obviously not a Christian and further explained the Evolution and the Big Bang Theory. I thought it was so funny that he very descriptively and scientifically taught Evolution with every aspect covered, leaving little imagination for anything else. He barely, hardly, kind of, educated my class on The Creation Theory. 
    The Creation Theory states that a metaphysical almighty power or creator, created the world and everything in it. This includes the Earth itself to all living organisms. The problem with learning this theory in school is that it is against U.S. law to teach religion in school, so my teachers would simply leave the rest up to the students prior knowledge or imagination about creation. What this theory really means is that God created everything. 
    The other idea schools would teach is The Evolution Theory. This idea states that 13.7 billion years ago there was this big piece of hot dense matter in space, which spontaneously combusted due to energy and all that matter had expanded all over the universe and created this galaxy. On these pieces of matter, small life forms had happened to exist and survive for many years. These small life forms are called amebas, which are single celled organisms, which are the smallest of all life forms. All these amebas all over this matter happened to survive under various atmospheric conditions and evolved into something different, which grew and grew and grew over the entire lifetime of this universe. This process went on for many years until this theory claims that we as humans, in fact evolved from an ameba.
    Both theories are hard to believe for anyone, many people are just so confused by the whole aspect so they just ignore it and don’t believe in anything. I can truly say I’m still confused. Even with today’s scientific advances there is still no way to candidly prove or disprove either theory, which is why it is such a fierce and delicate topic.
    I think it is okay to not know, no one wants to be wrong about anything. No one wants to give in to something they don’t understand. The way people choose a theory is by faith. Believing in something they cannot prove is a bold and scary move for anyone, however, it is extremely respected. 
    I have always been an indecisive person. I’ll drive around town asking myself where do I want to eat lunch for 40 minutes until I have completely weighed the pros and cons of eating at a particular place; whether the price is reasonable, or how hungry I am, or if that restaurants portions are decent, or if they have good reviews, or whatever. It’s a really bad habit. I once wasted a half tank of gas driving around contemplating what I wanted to eat for lunch. It’s terrible.
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    According to their Facebook, melodic-hardcore four piece Hundredth will be releasing their sophomore album Let Go on July 5th via Mediaskare Records. The band released their fantastic debut When Will We Surrender at the end of last March and I for one am excited to hear new music from Hundredth. The band is currently touring Europe and will be playing iMatter Festival in September, but have yet to announce the rest of their summer touring plans. Stay tuned for those dates, and new music from Hundredth.
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    Farewell Flight have signed with Mono vs. Stereo Records, and will be releasing their new album, Out For Blood, on July 12th. In addition to that, they will be releasing a digital split EP with their labelmates Deas Vail on June 7th. You can hear the title track off their new record right here, and can also watch a video regarding the album from Matt Thiessen and Matt Hoopes from Relient k, who now head Mono vs. Stereo, here.
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    The annual Elmira, NY music festival, iMatter, has announced their lineup for this year. The festival will take place on Labor Day weekend, September 2nd-4th, and will feature a great lineup of 12 bands, who are listed below. For more information on iMatter 2011, check out the festival's Facebook page.

    iMatter Festival 2011 Lineup:

    August Burns Red
    The Ember Days
    Impending Doom
    Texas In July
    A Plea For Purging
    Life In Your Way
    I, The Breather
    The Great Commission
    My Heart To Fear
    To Speak of Wolves
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    Artist: Hyland
    Album: Weights & Measures
    Release Date: May 3, 2011
    Label: Tooth & Nail Records

    In a similar fashion to my discovery of I Am Empire, I also discovered Hyland before they signed with Tooth & Nail, their current label home. A high energy pop rock band with the emphasis on the rock, their debut indie single "Til Death" was quite an impressive listen, and I was excited for them when they announced their signing with T&N this past year. Hyland's debut full length, Weights & Measures finds the band playing a cross of pop rock and alternative rock, that could be compared to Anberlin, Ivoryline and Run Kid Run, especially Run Kid Run. The 12 songs on the album vary from guitar and keyboard heavy rockers to CCM-styled, acoustic driven tunes, and speak of topics of love, life and faith on the lyrical side of things.

    Some of the highlights of Weights & Measures come on songs such as "Fireworks" and "Til Death," the former resembling an Ivoryline song, that features the standout line "I've had quite enough of this lust disguised as love," and the latter of the two is a new version of the first song I've ever heard from the band, which adds in layers of keyboards and synths that close the song. Other notable songs such as "The One That Got Away" has a pop rock vibe to it, and was co-written with Stephen Christian of Anberlin, who also provides backing vocals to the song as well, and "Desperate Man," a song that speaks of the band's equipment and van being stolen.

    Although there are a good amount of impressive songs on the album, I really wish that the band would dig more into their rock roots, and let those more upbeat songs take priority over some of the slower ones. Now don't get me wrong, songs like "Coast to Coast" have a good groove and hooks, but some of the other slower ones loose my attention a bit. However, being a young band, Hyland have plenty of time to find their sound, and I am confident that they will.

    Overall: The Twin-Cities pop rockers Hyland have shown hope on their debut full length album, Weights & Measures. While I would have preferred more of their guitar and keyboard, rock-driven tunes, a few slower songs, such as "Coast to Coast" and "This Love is Free," were done well. I do hope that Hyland will continue with more of their Anberlin-esque sound, and if they do, I think they will make it big, if they won't already with Weights & Measures.

    Rating: 7/10

    1. Jumping The Gun
    2. The One That Got Away (featuring Stephen Christian)
    3. Taking The Scenic Route
    4. Crying Out
    5. This Love Is Free
    6. Fireworks
    7. Coast to Coast
    8. Heart To Life
    9. Til Death
    10. Downhill
    11. Desperate Man
    12. Never
    (Buy Here)

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    Chicago, IL.- Rockford, IL based Red Cord Records has entered into an exclusive, worldwide distribution and merchandising agreement with Victory Records. Red Cord was founded by Executive Producer Joey Mathews who represents Day of Vengeance, Phinehas, Righteous Vendetta, Milosny, A Past Unknown, Not One Is Upright, Joliet, and Southbound Fearing amongst others.

    With a powerful, in-house booking agency and a world class studio for all Red Cord artists, the label expects their full-time touring artists to quickly become serious forces in the music world. "I have been developing artists through my studio for years now as well as having a competent and hardworking booking agency. I know how important it is to have solid, first-class distribution which Victory will be providing. Also, with Red Cord Studios pushing exciting albums with the assistance of world renown mixing engineer Joel Wanasek we are set apart from the pack with a full circle artist offering founded on integrity and a vision for music’s future,” says Mathews.

    The first two Red Cord releases will arrive July 19th from Los Angeles band Phinehas and Des Moines’ A Past Unknown.

    Tony Brummel, Founder of Victory Records said, "Joey’s heart and passion are invigorating. We have had the pleasure of helping labels like Rise Records and Sumerian get their starts and we look forward to helping Joey and Red Cord get to the next level. His artists have meaning and offer something for music fans to truly believe in. It is our honor to be in business with him."
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    Hands is set to release their follow-up album to 2009's Creator this summer. The new album Give Me Rest promises to be a remarkable leap in song writing and profundity for the band. Vocalist and guitarist Shane Ochsner had some things to say about what it was like writing and recording this time around.

    This is the first album we've done that has allowed some time for detail. I've used 5 different drum kits, 5 different guitar amps, 8 different guitars, and several different miscellaneous instruments to cater to each individual song. There is so much emotion, and weight to this album. It has been over 2 years since the writing sessions for "Creator", and so much has changed since then.

    It wasn't until this last year that I have started to question everything that I believe. I woke up one day and realized that I had no idea who God truly was, why I believed in him, and if my "relationship" with him was as honest as I'd been preaching it was. It felt like everything around me was pushing me farther, and farther away from Christianity. I saw a YouTube video of a massive group of kids at Cornerstone surrounding a protester outside of the festival gates, and shouting prayers and arguments with this guy like it was last thing they would ever do on Earth. I was absolutley disgusted, and asked myself "Am I really a part of this?"

    "Give Me Rest" is about my struggle with my faith, and my struggle to call myself a true believer. It's about starting over, and actually seeking God with all of your heart. Taking your roots and planting them at the foot of the cross. Understanding that His vision is so much bigger than anything our tiny little minds could ever understand. 

    Listen to the first single from Give Me Rest, "I Will," here:
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    Call To Preserve are about to embark upon their final tour in support of their last releaseValidation. Validation will be a 7" vinyl record containing 4 brand new tracks from the band, released on July 5, available only on vinyl or digitally. "We’ve wanted to put out vinyl for years and felt we had a few more things to say before we go, so this seemed like the perfect time and place to put out a 7”," says the band.

    The tour kicks off later this summer with Dead Icons and Strike First Records' Dynasty. This will be your last chance to see Call to Preserve live and the band has done what they could to make the tour as wide-ranging as possible. We hope you'll be able to join us in saying farewell to a great Facedown band on The Final Call To Preserve Tour. Full dates below.

    We want to do our best to make sure those who want to can come see us for the last time. We never thought that this band would get as far as it did. We never thought we’d have the chance to travel so much and tour with some of our favorite bands and make such amazing friends from all over the world. We are more thankful than you'll ever know. - Harbor Partin, Call To Preserve

    Tour Dates:
    6/15 Fayetteville GA @ 11th Hour Venue ** NO DEAD ICONS
    6/16 Columbia SC @ Unit One Art Space
    6/17 Whitesburg KY @ Letcher County Tourism
    6/18 Cookeville TN @ Westside Station
    6/19 Southhaven MS @ Cafe 549
    6/20 Little Rock AR @ Downtown Music Hall
    6/21 Tyler TX @ The Attic
    6/22 Houston TX @ Cain's Ashes
    6/23 McAllen TX @ VFW Hall
    6/24 San Antonio TX @ The White Rabbit
    6/25 Fort Worth TX @ TBA
    6/26 Tulsa OK @ The Reverb w/ Onward To Olympus
    6/27 Springfield MO @ Salad Days w/ Onward To Olympus
    6/28 Springfield IL @ Black Sheep Cafe

    7/05 Evansville IN @ The Rev ** NO DEAD ICONS
    7/06 Chattanooga @ The Warehouse ** NO DEAD ICONS