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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Volition [+digital booklet]

Artist: As Hell Retreats
Album: Volition
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Label: Ain't No Grave Records

Life is not always full of joy and happiness. That being said, As Hell Retreats have created Volition, a concept album about the life of a boy, which incorporates themes of doubt, death, and depression, all while searching for truth and hope in God. Volition is a very lyrically gripping album, that encourages listeners to follow along with the boy's journey, and even relate with him at times. Musically, the album is just as engaging as its lyrics, with a darker sound when the boy is going through something hard, and a lighter, more upbeat sound when he's in a hopeful moment. The musicianship from the band is superb for such a young metal band, and shows much maturity, as compared to Revival, the band's Strike First debut from last year.

At this point in time, what is expected from young, heavy bands is quite a low standard: boring chugging, whiny clean vocals, and barely good screams. I can tell you that As Hell Retreats contain none of these characteristics, but instead are much more creative, with some great unique and melodic guitar work from guitarist Tyler Riley. Vocalist Jackson Greene has also improved over time, showing a great vocal range, from his more general screaming, to deep growls, and even some near-spoken word (briefly). The rest of the band, drummer Trent Davenport and bassist Taylor Jones, do the rhythm section justice, and just show that As Hell Retreats are more than a few guys in a metal band, but are a cohesive group of musicians who are all on the same page musically, a quality that many bands out there do not show today.

Volition starts off with "Young Heretic," a song that really shows what the album is about, both lyrically and musically, as the song contains both heavy parts, and a slower, melodic section as well, all while asking the deep question (as the boy questions his faith): "Who are you? Who are you, God?" An almost jazzy, lush instrumental, "The Loss," is a prelude to "Matriarch," which talks of the death of the boy's mom, the only Christian who's ever really helped him along in his faith. The song features a fitting breakdown, followed by guest vocals from Daniel McWhorter of Gideon, whose vocals compliment Jackson's well. The song appears to come to a close, when the guitar slows down into an eerie, A Plea For Purging-esque riff, before the closing breakdown of "Innocence is dead!"

Some technical guitar work is thrown into the mix on "Shun," which at one point make up a hard hitting breakdown. The intro of "Heaven's Bane" sounds similar to some of the band's past material on Revival, but is the only song on the album that really feels like an older song from As Hell Retreats. Perhaps one of the most interesting songs on the album is the gloomy-sounding "A Beggar...," which lyrically involves the boy meeting a beggar, and on "...And His Faith," the beggar shares a hopeful message of faith with the boy, accompanied by brighter, melodic instrumentation.

From there on, the music takes on a darker tone, heard on "Transgress" and "Desperation," the latter of which finds the story's character screaming "With eyes open, I realize that this world has nothing to offer, all I have is hate! This world has nothing to offer, and I have no faith!" The story then takes a turn for the worse, but after having a dream about his mother, "Creator(s)," the boy is spoken to while unconscious from a friend, his father, and a minister, on "Only Hope," the album's best song and closer. The music of "Only Hope" captures the listener's attention, and is mostly upbeat, before slowing down into an ambient pace, where Aaron Stone of My Epic provides some guest vocals, leading into a triumphant-sounding way to end Volition, done rather remarkably if I do say so myself.

Overall: As Hell Retreats' Volition is one of those albums that is just so creative and willing to push boundaries, not afraid of what others will think, and quite honestly is a breath of fresh air to the metal scene. The album as a whole has no weak spot, and is gripping both musically and lyrically throughout its 12 tracks, showing As Hell Retreats' ability to write great music, that really touches the listener. That being said, Volition may just be the best heavy album that we will hear this year.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by Brooks Ginnan

Tracklisting:
  1. Young Heretic
  2. The Loss
  3. Matriarch
  4. Shun
  5. Heaven's Bane
  6. Misanthropist
  7. A Beggar...
  8. ...And His Faith
  9. Transgress
  10. Desperation
  11. Creator(s)
  12. Only Hope
(Buy Here)

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To coincide with the release of their album Volition, As Hell Retreats have released the music video for their song "Matriarch," which is off the new album. The video can be viewed right here. Volition is available now in stores and online via Ain't No Grave Records.
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INTRODUCING THE HELLOSOMEBODY TOUR FEATURING HEADLINERS
AARON GILLESPIE AND THE CITY HARMONIC

FEATURING JAKE HAMILTON, AJ CHEEK AND BEN PIRTLE, FOUNDER OF HELLOSOMEBODY


Seattle, Wa – July 25, 2011 – Announcing the HELLOSOMEBODY tour featuring the next generation of worship leaders Aaron Gillespie and The City Harmonic along with special guests Jake Hamilton (Jesus Culture), AJ Cheek and HELLOSOMEBODY founder Ben Pirtle. The tour begins on September 21 and will continue through October. Tour dates listed below.
 
"This is a different night, it isn't a concert, it isn't a popularity contest. This night is about Jesus and worshipping Him out loud and for real," shares Aaron Gillespie. "Bring everyone you know, we are being sponsored by HELLOSOMEBODY, and we are gonna be feeding needy kids through their incredible merchandise. Come hang!"
 
The tour’s namesake and sponsor, HELLOSOMEBODY’s mission will be the foundation for this evening of worship. This non-profit brand exists to impact and change the world through love, passion and creativity. Their purpose is simple: feed the hungry around the globe, which is what this tour will do – a global outreach through these creative and passionate artists.
 
“We want this tour to help people see their stories lining up with God’s story for them and the world. Worship ought to feel like that – some unveiling of something bigger than ourselves,” says The City Harmonic’s frontman Elias Dummer. “If we can somehow spark in people a dream, something they just can’t shake, then that will inspire them to sing like every word matters, to live like every day matters, and having tasted heaven they’ll get on with helping this world feel more like home. This tour promises to be a creative night of worship, and all for a great cause.”  
 
For more information on the HELLOSOMEBODY tour, click here for the official Facebook page. Also follow each of the artists and their online community to learn more.

- ### -

ABOUT AARON GILLESPIE: In 2011, Aaron Gillespie released his solo venture, Anthem Song, on BEC Recordings to what he hoped will be a new generation of worshippers. On release day, Anthem Song,immediately charted on iTunes debuting at No. 17 on overall iTunes Albums chart, No. 2 on the Christian iTunes Albums chart and No. 1 on Canada’s iTunes Christian Chart. This album has also has garnered rave reviews from the press with Alternative Press’ 4-star review calling Anthem Song’s “greatest quality is its unapologetic fearlessness,” Christianity Today saying “Anthem Song is devoid of any preoccupation with ‘self,’ consistently pointing to God's goodness and glory,” and AbsolutePunk calling it “a true worship record at its finest.”

Anthem Song was sparked by a trip in 2010 to Uganda with Compassion International.  Following this trip, Gillespie retired his role as drummer for the popular metalcore band Underoath and began writing and recording for Anthem Song.  He remains the frontman of the indie-rock band he founded,
The Almost.  For more information on Aaron Gillespie visit: http://aarongillespie.com/

ABOUT THE CITY HARMONIC:  Introducing The City Harmonic released Nov. 22, 2010 from Kingsway amidst a growing crowd of newly inspired music critics who have widely-praised this new band heralding from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Named “One not to miss” by CCM Magazine in its year-end issue. The City Harmonic is about “getting people in on the act—hearts pounding and feet moving.” Garnering comparisons to Coldplay, Aqualung, Arcade Fire, the band’s self-produced, six-song EP, Introducing The City Harmonic, is a nostalgic Brit-pop meets campfire sing-along mix that features raucous, gang vocals along with agile, soaring anthems crafted to include the listener. 
 
The band, consisting of front man Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan, isn’t as interested in finding fans as they are looking for participants in the journey. For much of the past decade the band members have worked with TrueCity, a movement of local churches in their hometown striving for the good of the city. For more information on The City Harmonic visit:http://thecityharmonic.com/.
 
 
For more information on the special guests please visit their sites:
 
Appearing September: Jake Hamilton from Jesus Culture:
 
Appearing October: AJ Cheek:
 
 
HELLOSOMEBODY tour
(All dates subject to change; more dates to be added)
 
9/21/11     Chandler, AZ
9/22/11     Glendale, AZ
9/23/11     Las Vegas, NV
9/24/11     Ontario, CA
9/25/11     Monterey, CA
9/28/11     Klamath Falls, OR
9/29/11     Lake Stevens, WA
10/5/11     Casper, WY
10/6/11     Littleton, CO
10/8/11     Omaha, NE
10/9/11     Shawnee Mission, KS
10/11/11   Amarillo, TX
10/13/11   Bedford, TX
10/15/11   Bolivar, MO
10/16/11   Rockford, IL
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The Ember Days just released a brand new song titled "Make Us One," off their long awaited full length album, Emergency, releasing August 30th on Come&Live!. Be sure to listen to and download the new song from C&L!, and catch The Ember Days live this summer on Come&Live!'s Arrows Are Deadly tour with Showbread and Ascend The Hill.
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Opposition - EP

Artist: Altars
Album: Opposition
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Label: Strike First Records

Altars (formerly known as Monuments) is a metallic hardcore band hailing from Colorado Springs, CO, and are one of the newest members to the Strike First Records family. Altars are a band that really take you by surprise, since they have only been together for a short while, but the music they create make them sound like metal/hardcore veterans. Simply put, Altars knows what they are doing, and they do not disappoint.

The Opposition EP starts off with the instrumental title track. From the get go, you already find yourself banging your head, tapping your feet, and chanting along "We are the opposition!" over and over. The track then fades into a brutal breakdown to start off "Advocate" (featuring Chad Ruhlig of Legend). You quickly learn that vocalist Mike Searle has some pipes. He has great depth and control, and a good variation in vocal style to keep things interesting. The next track is "Severance," which has some of my favorite lyrics. Throughout the album, you start to notice the overall theme of staying positive, and looking to the hope that lies ahead for all of us.

"The Struggler" has a great part in it where the instrumentals change to a more melodic sound, and the vocals go from screaming to more of a yell. The first time I heard it, it gave me chills. "Heresy" is another great track that really focuses on finding and seeking out hope, and has one of the biggest breakdowns on Oppositions. I also think this song really showcases the guitar work of Canaan Smith and Seth Munson. Finally, the closing track, "Volition," is a great example of how to properly close out an album, and I feel as the lyrics "He gave His life, so give Him yours" really wrap up what this album is all about.

Overall: Altars have released a great first album, and I only see them getting better from here on out. I loved the production on Opposition, and thought that it really made a difference on the overall sound. My only complaint is that it ended too soon, but I guess that is what you get with an EP. I think anybody who is a fan of metallic hardcore filled with positivity, hope, and faith will be a fan of this band. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these guys, and I would be surprised if this EP doesn't make it on my end of the year list.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended Tracks: "Advocate," "Heresy," and "Volition"

Reviewed by Tabor Brown

Tracklisting:
  1. Opposition
  2. Advocate
  3. Severance
  4. The Struggler
  5. Heresy
  6. Volition
(Buy Here)

Vans Warped Tour 2011 Review



Vans Warped Tour 2011, July 17th, at the Comcast Theater, Hartford, CT

Chances are, if you've ever been to the Vans Warped Tour before, you could use these words to describe it: long, hot, and tired. This year's Warped Tour fit that description perfectly, but was also a day filled with great music, filled with many genres spread about the tour's seven stages.


Moving Mountains

After arriving a bit after 12 to the Comcast Theater, I made my way to the amphitheater of the venue, to the Nintendo 3DS stage, where indie rockers Moving Mountains were playing the stage's first set of the day. The band played a very impressive set, composed of some older material, mixed in with some new songs off their new album Waves, which released only two months ago, including the standout "The Cascade." The guitar work from the band sounded very experimental and atmospheric live, which was a pleasant surprise, standing out from all the other bands of power chords and chugging. Moving Mountains are one band that you need to check out on Warped this year, if you are looking for some new and creative music, in the vein of bands such as Thrice.

A few more bands followed after Moving Mountains on the split stages of the amphitheater, which not only housed the Nintendo 3DS stage, but also the Alternative Press/Tilly's stage as well, featuring a good amount of smaller punk, pop, and rock bands, including the likes of Lionize and Simple Plan. The Nintendo 3DS stage housed bands such as rockers The Dangerous Summer, the high energy Go Radio, and the spastic, terrible-sounding I Set My Friends On Fire (whose vocalist seemed like he was screaming in pain, but for no real reason, at some point).

After three interviews for the day were done, including one with a few members of The Devil Wears Prada, I headed out into the dusty tour grounds to check out some merch tents, including Relient k's and the Tooth & Nail/Solid State one. I picked up this summer's edition of Tooth & Nail's annual Fuel Magazine, which is pretty cool, since it has in depth features in it on Run Kid Run and Oh, Sleeper about their new albums, out this fall.


Relient k

I then had time to watch most of the energetic, pop punk set from The Wonder Years, who played heavily from their album The Upsides, but also played some songs from their latest release, including the hook-heavy "Don't Let Me Cave In." Next came some time to talk with piano-driven indie rockers Windsor Drive, who's set we unfortunately missed. After speaking with the band for about 15 minutes, I headed back into the amphitheater for the last time of the day, catching the tail end of the punk band Street Dogs, who brought a positive message. Finally came the band I've been waiting years to see, one who have been a big name in the Christian rock community since their beginnings: Relient k. They ripped into their set with fan favorite "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been," followed by "Sahara" and their cover of the '80s' hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." They continued into "Forget And Not Slow Down" and "The Lining Is Silver," among a few others that had the fans all singing along, before concluding with "Be My Escape," which I heard most of as I left to head to the main stage.


August Burns Red

My last set of the night to watch would be the Pennsylvanian metalcore giants, August Burns Red. An electronic sample played as the band ran out onto the Teggart Main Stage, in front of a 1000+ kids. Although I only stayed for the first three songs, they put on a very intense set, which was even better than the last time I saw them, last summer at Purple Door Festival. The band's most recognizable song, "Composure," opened their show, to the delight of the crowd surfing and moshing fans. Vocalist Jake Luhrs jumped around a ton during the song, before stopping to introduce the first single from their brand new album, Leveler, "Empire," which was very heavy live, including the passionate screaming of "All You are, is what we want, it burns inside us all!" The slow building guitars of "White Washed" soon followed, setting off the massive crowd into a frenzy of energy, which I watched unfold as I left the venue.

I did enjoy the day, but was disappointed to have missed The Devil Wears Prada yet again (after missing many of their local shows in my area), due to the band playing an early set at 12. It was great to see some other big name Christian bands on this year (August Burns Red and Relient k), in contrast with last year, which did not feature many. For those going to Warped this summer, here are a few tips: Get there early to check the schedule so you don't miss any bands and stay hydrated.

Set Lists:


Relient k:
  1. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been
  2. Sahara
  3. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
  4. Forget And Not Slow Down
  5. The Lining Is Silver
  6. Devastation And Reform
  7. High of 75
  8. Be My Escape
August Burns Red (partial set):
  1. Composure
  2. Empire
  3. White Washed
Vans Warped Tour 2011 Photo Gallery (© 2011 ChristianRockRocks.com)
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Red Cord Records' metalcore band, Phinehas, just released their debut album last week, thegodmachine, and we are streaming a new song off the album, titled "A Pattern in Pain," below. You can also be on the lookout for an exclusive interview with the band coming soon as well. Make sure you check out thegodmachine both in stores and online now.

  Phinehas - 03 A Pattern in Pain by Christian Rock Rocks
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One of Tooth & Nail's latest signings, indie rock band Sainthood Reps, have just posted their new song "Dingus" right here. The song comes off their upcoming debut full-length album, out August 9th.
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Thrice have posted the first single off of their forthcoming album Major/Minor, titled "Yellow Belly," on their Facebook Bandpage. The song is also available for free download at the same location. The band will be going on tour this fall in support of the new album, which is out September 20th, and tour dates will be announced soon.
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Levi The Poet has recently released a new poem for free download, titled "Kaleidoscope," on his Facebook page. Levi is currently on the road with White Collar Sideshow, and can be seen on Come&Live!'s Arrows Are Deadly tour, along with The Ember Days and Showbread.
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Artist: Phinehas
Album: thegodmachine
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Label: Red Cord Records

Once in a great while there is a band that comes along who gives you goosebumps because of how disgustingly talented they are. Phinehas is one of those bands. I was first introduced to the band's music in 2009 with their debut EP, and now, two years later, they've brought us the stunning debut full-length thegodmachine on Red Cord Records. After one listen, you can tell the guys have been working non-stop on growing as a band, and making this album even better than the EP, and did they ever succeed.

I originally wanted to label thegodmachine as metalcore, but the vocals have more of a deathcore feel to them. The deep, guttural screams are exceptional. They fit and match the music and the overall message of the lyrics perfectly. There are also clean vocals used on the album, which have an old-school Haste the Day feel to them. The lyrics are by far the best I've heard/read in a very long time. They're so raw, honest, and definitely not sugar-coated at all: "You polish yourself as if you were a monument/Reaching high like a tower to Hell and the ground concedes/Pulled from the Earth like rotting roots." These lyrics (from "Bad Blood") continue to build a story about how wicked pride can be, but like I said, I could go on all day about the lyrics on this album.

Musically, the opening track doesn't do much for me. However, about 2:00 into "A Pattern in Pain," the guitar work is the most amazing stuff I've heard this year. The album doesn't let up from there until the end. Every so often you'll hear a song or a part of a song that just causes you to go crazy, and when Sean McCulloch (vocalist) screams "I am the Lion!," and the song of the same name goes into a brutal breakdown, I instantly broke into a one-man mosh in my car. The music is so intense, and 100% matches the intensity and mood of the vocals, and more importantly the lyrics.

Overall: There is a void in the Christian metal market with the recent departure of Haste the Day, Gwen Stacy, and Call To Preserve, amongst many others. Phinehas is the band to fill this void! They are good enough to hang around and possibly surpass the likes of August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada, and For Today. Phinehas has all of the talent, and passion, to be the biggest Christian metal band out there, and if this album is any indication, they'll be there sooner than you think. Musically, the band is already superior to the majority of metal bands you're going to hear today. Lyrically, they're in a league of their own. This is not a debut album, this is a statement: "We are Phinehas and we are the future of this genre!"  Although it's only July, I'm saying right now: thegodmachine by Phinehas is the best album of 2011, hands down!

Rating: 10/10

Recommended Tracks: "Bad Blood," "A Pattern In Pain," "I Am the Lion," and "Crowns"

Reviewed by Michael Small

Tracklisting:
  1. thegodmachine: The Speaking Stone
  2. Bad Blood
  3. A Pattern in Pain
  4. I Am the Lion
  5. From One End of the Sky to the Other
  6. Legacy
  7. Crowns
  8. The Wishing Well
  9. My Horses Are Many
  10. Grace Disguised by Darkness
  11. Pendulum
  12. thegodmachine: The Rider
  13. That I May Love You
(Buy Here)

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To Those Perishing

Artist: A Past Unknown
Album: To Those Perishing
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Label: Red Cord Records

After releasing their first demo last year, A Past Unknown is back with their debut full-length album on Red Cord Records. To Those Perishing does not feel like a debut in any way, not musically, lyrically, or quality wise. It's a very impressive effort from a band that should be on their way to being a popular band in the Christian music scene.

Opening tracks are important, like people always say, you've got one shot to make a good first impression. On "Voice To The Willing," the band shows just how talented they are. The music of the song is so tight, and although it's kind of your typical metalcore sound, the melodies they add to it, and the vocals make it sound so much better than you'd expect. The one thing that really grabbed my attention was the lyrics, how mature they are, and how scripture has played a big role on the lyrics of such a young band. Some of the lyrics are: "Can You take this piece of me/fill it up despite the emptiness and greed?/I'm not worthy/I will take this piece of you/fill it so that you're not alone/I love you too much/I won't let go." I was instantly sucked into the album with this opening track, and was really looking forward to the rest of the album.

I was not let down by the rest of To Those Perishing either. The music is superb throughout, especially on songs like "Nothing To Hide" and "No Strength For The Weak." Also, later in the album, the band includes the use of clean vocals, and I was so glad to hear that they weren't the high-pitched, nasally cleans that many bands have come to use these days. One song that is a great example of what I mean with the use of clean vocals would be "The Critic," where the combination of cleans and screams are impeccable in that song. One other thing I've noticed in this album is a lot of times it seems like bands are mashing their screams with the music, which can sound good, although it doesn't seem like they were written for each other, but A Past Unknown's vocals fit so perfectly with the music, and they complete each other in such a way that has been missing in metalcore for some time.

Overall: To Those Perishing is an awesome debut album from a band that has all the makings of being up there with The Devil Wears Prada and Underoath in the future. There is not a weak moment on this entire album, which is so refreshing when most bands have a lot of "filler" tracks these days. This is one of those albums that will be in my rotation for some time to come, and is also an album that will make you nervous when their sophomore album comes out, but this debut has not only set the bar for this band, but for debut albums from bands to come as well.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: "Voice To The Willing," "No Strength For The Weak," "Nothing To Hide," and "Philosophy of the Dying"

Reviewed by Michael Small

Tracklisting:
  1. Voice To The Willing
  2. The Consequences of Silence
  3. No Strength For The Weak
  4. Nothing To Hide
  5. Wide Is The Path To Destruction
  6. The Critic
  7. This Is Where We Meet
  8. What If You're Wrong
  9. Philosophy Of The Dying
  10. Oblivious State Of Mind
  11. A Perfect Pledge
(Buy Here)

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Give Me Rest

Artist: Hands
Album: Give Me Rest
Release Date: July 5, 2011
Label: Facedown Records

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Hands. So, I was certainly looking forward to Give Me Rest. That being said, however, I'm also the guy that lets hype devalue almost anything I'm interested in. Though I was prepared for this album to let me down, I am happy to say: I.Was.Wrong. I don't think I can overstate how good this album is. Right there, from track one all the way to the last track, it simply delivers. Every track is beautifully delivered in fact, and I will highlight some of my favorite tracks, because no matter what I say, I'll be selling it short.

First up is the opener of Give Me Rest, titled "I Will." "I Will" sets the tone so that you know exactly what kind of musicianship and honesty you're getting. The song starts off with a sort of boom-bap-boom-boom-bap drum beat, that continues as Shane screams "Rise, from the quiet, I will rise," in the distance. The first few lines give me goosebumps from the honesty. "Can you feel the anger in my heart? I can't believe this is me. I built my house on shaking ground, and lit a match to watch it burn." Track two, "Water," starts with the familiar heavy Hands sound that goes into one of the all-time best grooves, combined with beautifully sung lyrics. Even now, I'm having trouble finding the adjectives to perfectly illustrate the way it makes me feel.

Now, to my personal favorite, the fourth track, "The Helix." The desperation in this track is heavy. It speaks to those doubts that a Christian can struggle with within our own mind. It embodies the very same thoughts I personally have dealt with. For me, it's a song you pop on when down. Plug in your headphones and close your eyes while this song brings your heart, mind, and spirit back to God. "Here I Am" is the following song. The track has a heavy chugging bass sound, but is in no way heavy. It's simple, and quite honestly, beautiful.

I'll end with the very touching last song on Give Me Rest, which is the title track. It feels to me like this is the song where Shane Ochsner (vocalist) "gets it." Meaning, after all of the highs and lows of the rest of the album, this is where Shane remembers who God is to him, and, subsequently gets the rest he's been seeking. With lyrics such as, "Send a smile to my daughter. Tell her everything is fine," it's hard not to get choked up as a parent myself. I love how much emotion is conveyed when Shane asks the question "Is my name in there?" You can feel his eager anticipation of the answer. Very moving stuff.

If you have not given Give Me Rest a try, I implore you to do so. Don't assume to know what is contained within. Whether you think you'll love it or hate it, you'll be blown away. When I first heard it, the first thing that came to my mind that aptly described it was "instant classic."

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by Gary Peterson

Tracklisting:
  1. I Will
  2. Water
  3. Cube
  4. The Helix
  5. Here I Am
  6. Jovian
  7. Northern Lights
  8. 2005
  9. Restart
  10. Give Me Rest
(Buy Here)

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This Hopecore.com sponsored summer tour kicks off August 4th and features My Epic, as well as To Speak of Wolves and Harp & Lyre. Full tour dates below.

My Epic's new EP Broken Voice is available now. http://facedown.merchnow.com/

Tour Dates
Aug 4 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium (upstairs)
Aug 5 - Rochester, NY @ The Montage Music Hall
Aug 6 - Crofton, MD @ The MACC
Aug 7 - Lynchburg, VA @ Crosspointe Venue
Aug 8 - Cincinnati, OH @ Club 86
Aug 9 - Terre Haute, IN @ The Venue
Aug 11 - Midlothian, TX @ The Lighthouse
Aug 12 - Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
Aug 13 - Hot Springs, AR @ Fuse Fest
Aug 15 - Round Rock, TX @ The Pearl
Aug 16 - McAllen, TX @ VFW
Aug 17 - Conroe, TX @ Grace Crossings Church
Aug 18 - Broussard, LA @ The Station
Aug 20 - Tampa, FL @ Godzfest
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In addition to SLEEPING GIANT’s “Kingdom Days In An Evil Age”, July 12th also brings about another epic, hardcore release from ANGR with THE GREAT COMMISSION’s new album, “Heavy Worship”! Fans can go to HOT TOPIC and FYE to purchase “Heavy Worship” (available for $11.99 at both locations), or they can download the album on ITUNES for $7.99.

To purchase “Heavy Worship” digitally, please click the link below to see the album page on ITUNES:
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SLEEPING GIANT’s new album “Kingdom Days In An Evil Age” hits stores today, so be sure to pick up your copy of the metalcore masterpiece at a store near you! To preview the record in its entirety before purchase, fans can go to HOT TOPIC where the album will be on listening stations (and available for purchase for $9.99). FYE will also be carrying a deluxe edition of “Kingdom Days In An Evil Age” for $13.99.  The deluxe features three bonus tracks as well as “Kingdom Days Manifesto”, a booklet that includes insightful explanations of song lyrics and meanings.

To purchase “Kingdom Days In An Evil Age” digitally, fans can go to ITUNES for the new album plus bonus tracks! Click the link below to view the ITUNES bonus edition:
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We recently had a chance to talk with Jackson Greene of As Hell Retreats, regarding their forthcoming sophomore album, Volition, Scream The Prayer, and life on the road.

Christian Rock Rocks (Brooks Ginnan): Since we talked with you last, you said that Scream The Prayer would be a dream tour for As Hell Retreats, and you are in fact on it this year. What are you looking forward to about playing STP this summer?
Jackson Greene (As Hell Retreats): We are looking forward to all the awesome hang outs with all the bands on this tour, all the shows we'll be playing, and just simply having a good time on the road. It's been about two months since we've played a show and we're ready to jam!

CRR: What can fans expect from your set at Scream The Prayer?
Jackson: We'll be playing some new songs from Volition, some from Revival, and a whole lot of energy. Like I said, we haven't been able to play a show in about two months, so we are just ready to finally let it all out. From emotion and passion, to good times and probably some funny or stupid faces we'll make. We tend to do that.

CRR: You are releasing your sophomore album, Volition, at the end of July. What has your year been like from the release of last year's Revival to the release of Volition?
Jackson: It's been a huge change, really. We've matured a little bit. Not just with music, but with ourselves mostly. A lot of ups and downs have occurred in all of our lives, and now we are sharing these feelings and/or thoughts with our new album, Volition.

CRR: Was there anything different that went into the process of making the new record, as opposed to the recording of Revival?
Jackson: Yes. Revival was only a CD that had a collection of songs from two or three years ago and some member changes, so some songs weren't even written by the members we have now. With Volition, we've had a solid line-up for over a year and a half and had fresh ideas to start with. We even thought about making Volition into a story before Revival was even released. Haha. So the main difference would have to be that Volition actually has more depth, thought, and passion than Revival. Hands down.

CRR: Volition is something of a concept album. What is the story that the album follows?
Jackson: The concept is mainly based on a quote by C.S. Lewis that says, "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth; only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair." With that in mind, this story is about a boy who has been raised to believe in this "god" he is so unsure of because he's never understood it. The only anchor he had for his faith was his mother, who passes away in the story. From there, he starts to question his faith, doubts it even, and struggles with reality. The sole purpose for this story is to show that whatever problem you are going through, you are never alone. We, as people, have gone through hell and back with how our lives have unfolded and want to show that you are not alone with any of your problems. To us, knowing that we aren't alone shows hope in our lives and makes us more thankful to have faith in our God and for this world, even though it can be so hard to keep it up. Hopefully it does the same for our listeners.

CRR: How would you say Volition compares and differs to previous music As Hell Retreats has created (both musically and lyrically)?
Jackson: Musically, it's not as metalcore/deathcore/whatever you want to call our last album. Haha. We had the mindset that we didn't want to cater to what our fans wanted to hear or anything like that. We didn't want to write what was popular or catchy at the moment. We simply wanted to write what we felt like writing. I mean, Volition still has its metal parts, but it surely doesn't have the same sound as Revival. What is special about this new record is that the music actually goes along with the lyrics and emotions for each song (or we tried our best to do that). For example, when there is a hopeful part, there is a bright sounding melody happening. Or when there is a complete pissed-off part, there's a dark and low melody. Lyrically, it can be very... negative. Not that we feel like that now, but in order to talk about our struggles with our past life, I had to write some negative content. To me, that's facing reality. I'm not sugar-coating anything or pretending that all things are good in this world. It's a very angry album, but that's not always a bad thing. Anger can be used for good, and for this, I feel like it's a good thing to face reality and anger, and see how hard life can be. To me, if we face reality, that's when we find our true feelings and self, and with that, we can find the truth, which to us, is the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

CRR: How was it to have Aaron Stone (My Epic) sing on the album (on "Only Hope")? What role does he take in the song?
Jackson: I think I can speak for the whole band when I say that this is our favorite part of the CD. It almost wasn't going to happen because of our deadline, but by the grace of God, we were blessed to have Aaron send his part in right before we had to wrap it up. He takes on the role of a minister who plays a very important role in the main character's life. I don't want to spoil it too much, so that's all I'll say for that.

CRR: Daniel from Gideon also appears on Volition, correct?
Jackson: He sure does!

CRR: You've recently signed to Ain't No Grave Records. How was the transition of moving from Facedown to ANGR?
Jackson: It actually went very smoothly. We thought so much stuff had to go down with all this business stuff and yada-yada. But fortunately for all three of us (the band and the two labels), it went very well. There's no bad blood between us and Facedown if anyone thinks that, and we ALWAYS wish them the best of luck.

CRR: What are some ways you guys have fun while on the road?
Jackson: We tend to play a lot of jokes and pranks on each other. Hopefully the bands we go on tour with are the same way. If not, we still have a lot of fun with just ourselves.

CRR: What are three albums that you have been into lately?
Jackson: Balance & Composure's Separation, Touche Amore's Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me, and Underoath's Disambiguation.

CRR: While on tour, how do you stay rooted in your faith?
Jackson: It's hard sometimes, but we usually all keep each other in line with long talks on night drives or whip out our bibles and read them. Also, listen to some bands that just can't help but encourage you in your faith.

CRR: Do you have anything else big planned for after Scream The Prayer and the record release?
Jackson: We are working on a little tour up to NY to play a festival called iMatter Fest. Should be really fun! Hopefully more tours come up as well, but we'll see!

CRR: Anything else you would like to mention in closing?
Jackson: To any of you that read this: Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. I know some of my answers were kind of like novels... but I appreciate you wanting to know about us! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to do the interview! Have a great rest of the day.
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Artist: Sleeping Giant
Album: Kingdom Days In An Evil Age
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Label: Ain't No Grave Records

I for one, along with many others I'm sure, have been eagerly anticipating the release of new music from Sleeping Giant, since their impressive sophomore release from June '09', Sons of Thunder. Well, the time has finally come, and armed with a new label, Ain't No Grave Records, Sleeping Giant are back with Kingdom Days In An Evil Age. Has all the hype paid off however? The answer would be a yes, and in fact, this may just be the best that we have heard the band.

Kingdom Days In An Evil Age packs in everything Sleeping Giant does well, and takes it up a notch, with more intense instrumentation, powerful lyrics, and plenty of worship. The minute and a half intro, "Throne Room Militance" is not your typical instrumental build up to the following song, but instead packs as much as it can into the small duration of time, setting the atmosphere of Kingdom Days with an in-your-face message and call to believers to rise up. "Salvation is our banner!" is the one line of "Dead Men Walking" that pleas to be yelled along with, from an anthem of a song that wages war against the powers of Darkness. Guest vocals from Frankie Palmeri of Emmure are found on "Eyes Wide Open," fitting the song well, and are especially memorable when he screams with Tommy Green, "You better pray!"

Some classic Sleeping Giant is heard on "The Cross Is Suicide," which is a proclamation of willing to lay our lives down for Christ. "ICXC" is a very aggressive track from its start, and speaks of Jesus being the Conqueror. The song which fans have known as "Hallelujah" for about a year, "Tithemi," is an energetic worship song, made up mainly of Tommy Green's singing, before some spoken word, leading into a crippling breakdown to end the song. Although it may not be exactly the same, the intro of "Tongues Of Fire" sounds somewhat similar to "ICXC," but after the intro is a completely different track altogether, with mainly just drums in the verses, backing Tommy's yells and screams. The percussion is once again highlighted on the start of "Jehova Shalom," a song full of mostly down-tuned chugging, and lyrics of the many names of God. A tribute to martyrs is made on "The Unnamable Name," along with a prayer for breakthrough over many unsaved nations.

"Morning Star" cries out "Jesus come, cause You are worthy of every human life, Kingdom come, Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End," followed by deep, throaty growls of "I am blinded by glory." Similar to how Sons of Thunder ended, piano is added on the closing of Kingdom Days In An Evil Age, "Enthroned." Another song of all singing, the song is hauntingly beautiful, with more honest lyrics of desperation for the Love of God.

Those who pick up the deluxe edition of the album are not only treated to an expanded, in-depth booklet, but three more new songs as well. The first, "Defiance," is all singing from Tommy, and gang vocals that accompany the chorus, along with heavy bass and echoing drums. The only real heavy track of the three is "Father To The Fatherless," which asks God why He chose to give up His Son, and that "Sons need fathers!" The final and closing "Holy Is The Lamb" starts out a bit slower with gang chants, which build up to the all out singing of ""You're the hope of all the nations, You're the Living God, and we cry holy, holy is the Lamb." A great way to end Kingdom Days if I do say so myself.

Overall: Sleeping Giant have made it clear that they have poured their hearts, minds, and souls into Kingdom Days In An Evil Age, their awe-inspiring third album. A very cohesive effort, each song drips with a worshipful passion, which fuels a battle cry for believers of this generation. As it says on "Tithemi," "This is declaration," and that is what Kingdom Days In An Evil Age is, pure declaration.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklisting:
  1. Throne Room Militance
  2. Dead Men Walking
  3. Eyes Wide Open
  4. The Cross Is Suicide
  5. ICXC
  6. Tithemi
  7. Tongues Of Fire
  8. Jehova Shalom
  9. The Unnamable Name
  10. Morning Star
  11. Enthroned
  12. Defiance
  13. Father To The Fatherless
  14. Holy Is The Lamb
(Buy Here)

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Artist: The Great Commission
Album: Heavy Worship
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Label: Ain't No Grave Records

Over two years have passed since the release of The Great Commission's debut album, And Every Knee Shall Bow, and those two years have been filled with almost non-stop touring, new members, a new label, and a new musical outlook. Heavy Worship finds The Great Commission moving on from their heavy, death metal style, and taking more of a metalcore direction. To add even more dimension to their music, clean vocals are also very prominent on the album, and are done by one of the band's three guitarists, Victor Cota.

"Don't Go To Church, Be The Church" starts off with the words "I am a walking revival," before exploding into a breakdown, which is followed by a fast pace and the first clean vocal chorus of the album. The question "Will you stand with this generation or will you watch it dig its own grave?" is posed to the listener of "The Walking Dead," which takes on a sludgier sound. One of the album's highlights, "When It Rains It Pours" has the hope-filled message of "One day the rain will come and wash away my pain, one day the rain will come and wash away my shame," preceding a breakdown of "Let the rain fall down!"

The next few songs are lyrically a bit more weighty, the first being "Draw The Line." The song speaks of the war within, and inner struggle. On "Preaching To The Choir," the message is directed at Christians, who only live (or act) their faith out on Sundays. "Weight Of The World" states that with Christ, we are not alone, even if the weight of the world crashes down on us. Some great harmonies are found in the clean vocals of "The Prodigal Son," and "Road To Damascus" starts out with only clean vocals, shaking up the typical song structure found on the album. The use of some vocal distortion is heard during the opening of "The Juggernaut," one of Heavy Worship's only tracks lacking the use of a clean chorus, but instead breakdowns take their place. "Reap What You Sow" follows suit, no clean vocals and breakdowns a plenty. To close the album, The Great Commission pull off a great cover of Hillsong's "Came To My Rescue (Be Lifted High)," which is very well the album's highlight. After playing the song live numerous times, it is a treat to finally have a recorded version of their passionate rendition, made up of dual vocals from Victor and frontman Justin Singh.

Overall: The sophomore release from The Great Commission, Heavy Worship, is a solid album from Californian six-piece. The new musical direction from the band aims for a metalcore sound, complete with clean vocals and plenty of chugging, which brings with it not much variety from song to song, most of them sounding similar. The album is lyrically both hopeful and weighty at times, with one purpose, to bring glory to God. Heavy Worship does boast a number of good tracks, especially the Hillsong cover, and for that, is still worth being checked out.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklisting:
  1. Don't Go To Church, Be The Church
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. When It Rains It Pours
  4. Draw The Line
  5. Preaching To The Choir
  6. Weight Of The World
  7. The Prodigal Son
  8. Road To Damascus
  9. The Juggernaut
  10. Reap What You Sow
  11. Came To My Rescue (Be Lifted High)
(Buy Here)

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Creations, who we recently interviewed, have just released a new music video for their song "The Wolf, The Clothes." The song will be on the band's upcoming debut album, The Gospel, which will be out August 16th on Rite of Passage/Mediaskare Records. You can catch Creations on tour now with Onward To Olympas, Before There Was Rosalyn, and The Burial.
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Sovereign Strength have just released a new song, titled "Bring Me Home," featuring Shane Raymond of Close Your Eyes, which can be heard here. The band is currently on the Scream The Prayer tour, and also have a new album, The Prophecy, releasing August 2nd on Mediaskare Records, which can now be pre-ordered.
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To further promote their upcoming ANGR debut “Heavy Worship” out July 12th, 2011, THE GREAT COMMISSION, have released a new teaser video.  Footage of the band promoting their run on this year’s “Scream The Prayer” tour, as well as a sneak peek of their forthcoming music video for “When It Rains It Pours,” is now available for viewing on the ANGRecs Youtube channel and can be found here:

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Sleeping Giant delivers their brand new video for "Eyes Wide Open" featuring Frankie Palmeri of Emmure! The song comes straight from their new album Kingdom Days In An Evil Age due out this Tuesday, July 12th, on Ain't No Grave Records.

They will be on this year's Scream The Prayer tour directly supporting Norma Jean with The Chariot, War Of Ages, Close Your Eyes, Texas In July and many more.

Check the video out here.

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THE GREAT COMMISSION now streaming “Weight Of The World”; on the road with the “Scream The Prayer Tour”

In addition to SLEEPING GIANT’s “Kingdom Days In An Evil Age”, July 12th will also bring about another epic release from ANGR with THE GREAT COMMISSION’s new album, “Heavy Worship”. In preparation for the release, hardcore heavyweights, THE GREAT COMMISSION, are now streaming yet another new track entitled “Weight Of The World” from their highly anticipated new album.

To hear “Weight Of The World”, head over to the band’s official Facebook fan page and “like” THE GREAT COMMISSION to reveal the track!


THE GREAT COMMISSION will also be hitting the road this summer with the “Scream The Prayer Tour”, so be sure to catch them alongside the metalcore outfit SLEEPING GIANT, metal titans NORMA JEAN, progressive punk rockers CLOSE YOUR EYES, mathcore masters THE CHARIOT, technical death metalers AS HELL RETREATS, and more! With bands from all genres and sub-genres of metal and hardcore on-board, this almighty tour promises to leave fans screaming for more extreme worship!

“Scream The Prayer” tour dates feat. THE GREAT COMMISSION with NORMA JEAN/SLEEPING GIANT/THE CHARIOT/WAR OF AGES/CLOSE YOUR EYES/TEXAS IN JULY/I, THE BREATHER/AS HELL RETREATS/SOVEREIGN STRENGTH

7/1 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
7/3 Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival (Not all STP bands on festival)
7/5 Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
7/6 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
7/7 Charlotte, NC @ Amos
7/8 Douglasville, GA @ The 7 Venue
7/9 Jacksonville, FL @ Murray Hill Theatre
7/10 Pratville (Montgomery), AL @ The Blue Iguana
7/11 Little Rock, AR @ Riverfront Pavilion
7/13 Bloomington, IL @ Castle Theatre***(STP off –date)***
7/15 Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Centre
7/17 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
7/18 Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater
7/19 Dayton, OH @ The Attic
7/20 Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater***(STP off –date with For Today)***
7/22 McAllen, TX @ Las Palmas Racepark w/ The All Stars Tour
7/23 San Antonio, TX @ The Backstage Live w/ The All Stars Tour
7/24 Dallas, TX @ The Palladium w/ The All Stars Tour
7/25 Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
7/26 Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
7/27 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
7/28 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
7/29 St. George, UT @ The Electric Theatre***(STP off –date)***
7/30 Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
7/31 Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse