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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Come&Live! only have a little under a day left to raise support for their fall missions trip/tour to Europe, with Showbread and Holding Onto Hope.  They still need to raise a substantial amount of money to reach their goal, and you can join them in prayer, or support them financially if you feel called. They are raising support through IndieGoGo, a site set up like Kickstarter, and for more info on the project, or to donate, you can go here.

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One of the summer festivals' best kept secrets may just be iMatter Festival, now in its fourth year, held at Eldridge Park in Elmira, New York. This year's festival is being held this weekend, September 2-4, and is looking to be the biggest and best one yet, with three days of music, speakers, and a message of hope and love. For more information on the festival, and to purchase tickets, check out the iMatter website. Below are some things that you can be looking forward to at each of iMatter's three days.

Friday, September 2nd


Friday night will be the start of this year's iMatter Festival, and will be kicked off with worship from Oceans and Vessels and The Ember Days. After that, there will be a night of hip-hop, provided by Benjah, Flame, and the night's headliner, Reach Records' Trip Lee. Joey Furjanic will also be speaking as well.


Saturday, September 3rd


Saturday will be iMatter's main day, and will be full of heavy music. As Hell Retreats will be starting out the day at 10 AM, and will be followed by some up and coming hardcore bands, such as My Heart To Fear, Gideon, To Speak Of Wolves, and Hundredth. Life In Your Way will be playing their third show back as a band this year, and A Plea For Purging will be playing their second show back after recording their upcoming album. The day will be headlined by August Burns Red, along with Emery. Throughout the day, Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red will be speaking, as well as Chad Johnson, founder of Come&Live!. There will also be a Come&Live! tent, in which bands will be doing interviews throughout the day in. To end the night, The Ember Days will be playing their second set of the festival.


Sunday, September 4th


Sunday is the last day of iMatter, but will be free. Speaker Joey Furjanic will be talking again, and The Ember Days will be leading worship to close out iMatter Festival 2011.
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The Ember Days' new album, Emergency, has at last been released. The album can be downloaded as a free gift from Come&Live!, as well as from iTunes and AmazonMP3. If you want to support the band by buying a hard copy of Emergency (which includes a bonus DVD with an extended version of the Come&Live! New Zealand documentary) or a shirt, they can be purchased right here. The band will be playing iMatter Festival all three days this weekend, and will be going on tour with Kye Kye in October.
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FOR TODAY SIGNS NEW ALBUM AND PUBLISHING DEAL
WITH RAZOR & TIE

New Studio Album Slated For Release In 2012

For Today Confirmed On Fall/Winter Tour With The Devil Wears Prada (Also Featuring Whitechapel and Enter Shikari)


 (New York, NY) - Razor & Tie is pleased to announce the addition of Christian metalcore juggernauts For Today to its expanding label and publishing rosters. The Sioux City, Iowa based band will hit the road this fall / winter with The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel, and Enter Shikari for a national U.S. tour (dates below). The band is already in the writing stages for its forthcoming new studio album which will be released in 2012.

"We can't even begin to explain how excited we are to join the Razor and Tie roster.  The label has shown tremendous confidence in their ability to continue developing us as a band, and to build on the foundation we've set," said For Today lead singer Mattie Montgomery.  "Anyone who follows our band should know, this changes nothing about our commission or our passion.  This means that, as we continue to proclaim the nearness of hope for the nations of the earth, from this point forward, we will do so with greater force, presence, and prominence than ever before."

John Franck, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Razor & Tie comments, "We're thrilled to welcome For Today to the R&T family. The band's incredible energy and positive message is a well needed breath of fresh air."

For Today formed in 2005 and has since released one EP and three full-length albums: Your Moment, Your Life, Your Time EP (Self-Released 2006), Ekklesia (Facedown Records, 2008), Portraits (Facedown Records, 2009),  Breaker (Facedown Records, 2010).  Having played over 1000 shows in five continents, For Today has toured with Emmure, We Came As Romans, Winds of Plague, The Devil Wears Prada. The band headlined the Scream The Prayer Tour 2010 with Maylene and The Sons of Disaster and also was on the Motel 6 Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour with We Came As Romans this past year. To date, For Today has sold over 65,000 albums in North America.

The hardcore-influenced metal band is known for their non-stop touring, high energy live performance, and unrelenting message. As forthcoming about their faith as they are about their musical prowess, For Today have become widely known as one of modern metal's most technically proficient bands.  For Today is Mattie Montgomery ( lead vocals), Ryan Leitru (lead guitar, vocals), Brandon Leitru (bass), Michael Reynolds (rhythm guitar), and David Morrison (drums, percussion). The band is managed by Shawn Keith of Sumerian Entertainment and represented for touring by Matt Andersen of The Pantheon Agency.

For Today is the latest addition to independent label Razor & Tie's expanding Rock roster that includes such artists as All That Remains, Norma Jean, Chelsea Grin, Attila, Saves The Day, and many more. The New York City-based label is one of the fastest growing independent record companies in the United States, and has garnered both Platinum sales and Grammy awards in its 20-year history.

For Today - Tour Dates with The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel, and Enter Shikari
Nov 3 - Milwaukee, WI - The Rave
Nov 6 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
Nov 7 - Minneapolis, MN - Epic
Nov 8 - Winnipeg, MB - The Garrick
Nov 10 - Edmonton, AB - Edmonton Events Centre
Nov 11 - Calgary, ALB - MacEwan Ballroom
Nov 13 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theatre
Nov 14 - Seattle, WA - Showbox SoDo
Nov 15 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre
Nov 17 - San Francisco, CA - Regency Ballroom
Nov 18 - Santa Cruz, CA - The Catalyst
Nov 19 - San Diego, CA - Soma
Nov 20 - Los Angeles, CA - Club Nokia
Nov 21 - Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre
Nov 23 - Magna, UT - Saltair
Nov 25 - Denver, CO - The Summit Music Hall
Nov 26 - Oklahoma City, OK - Diamond Ballroom
Nov 27 - Dallas, TX - House Of Blues
Nov 28 - San Antonio, TX - Backstage Live
Nov 29 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live Ballroom
Nov 30 - New Orleans, LA - House Of Blues
Dec 2 - Tampa, FL - The Ritz Ybor
Dec 3 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution
Dec 4 - Lake Buena Vista, FL - House Of Blues
Dec 5 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
Dec 7 - Charlotte, NC - Amos' Southend
Dec 8 - Richmond, VA - The National
Dec 9 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore - Silver Spring
Dec 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
Dec 11 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
Dec 13 - New York, NY - Best Buy Theatre
Dec 14 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Dec 15 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis
Dec 16 - Toronto, ON - Kool Haus
Dec 17 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
Dec 18 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogarts   
LINKS
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Life In Your Way have posted an album teaser, for their upcoming album Kingdoms, which will be releasing as a full length album in late October, and also as three EPs over the next few months for free, through Come&Live!. The teaser can be listened to here. Life In Your Way will be playing iMatter Festival this weekend, their third show back as a band, and if you can't make it to the show, you can check out their merch site.
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The Gospel

Artist: Creations
Album: The Gospel
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Label: Rite of Passage/Mediaskare Records

The Gospel starts off appropriately with spoken Scripture in the first track, "The Wandering, The Call." That sets the tone for this album, because Creations want to be honest with you on a Biblical level, and they surely succeed.

The honesty is very apparent in track two, "The Wolf, The Clothes." Here are just a few excepts from its lyrics: "Would you be satisfied in heaven without the One who saved you?," "Why do you treat the cross like a prostitute, and purvey a false gospel? You'll gain the world but lose your soul. You're not a Christian!" Mesh these open and thought provoking lyrics with some great grooves and you have one of the best songs of the year.

I only have a few criticisms for this album. First, and this is just a symptom of music genres in general, the songs start sounding too similar after a bit. Again, this happens to a lot of bands, but some are able to cover it up a little better. My second criticism is that the vocals seem too thin to me. Now, that's not to say that Michael's vocals are bad. They're actually good, but in my opinion seem a little thin next to the heavy backdrop of down-tuned instrumentation.

There are some standouts on The Gospel, "The Rich, The Poor," "The Mist, The Storm," "The Tongue, The Sword," "The Almighty, The Wretch," and of course, the aforementioned song of the year contender, "The Wolf, The Clothes."

Overall: I had high hopes for this album, and maybe because of these lofty expectations, The Gospel was a little lackluster for me. I actually want people to disagree with me on this album, and pick this up based on its pure honesty alone. Honesty is severely lacking in this scene, and in Christianity in general. These guys are original in that sense.If you care about your walk with Christ, this album will only serve to keep you thinking and walking the straight and narrow. This is a good album, whose only real sin is being musically unoriginal.

Reviewed by Gary Peterson

Tracklisting:
  1. The Wandering, The Call
  2. The Wolf, The Clothes
  3. The Lion, The Lamb
  4. The Rich, The Poor
  5. The Cross, The Deserving
  6. The Idols, The Warning
  7. The I Am
  8. The Mist, The Storm
  9. The Tongue, The Sword
  10. The Coward, The Lie
  11. The Almighty, The Wretch
(Buy Here)
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Emergency

Artist: The Ember Days
Album: Emergency
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Label: Come&Live!

Over the past year, it's not an understatement to say that The Ember Days have been a favorite band of mine. The funny part is that it didn't start that way. On first listen to their Finger Painting EP that released nearly a year ago to the day (which I still listen to often), I was let down, expecting more music like their previous self-titled EP, but heard only two songs with vocals, and three, somewhat lengthy and ambient, instrumentals, and I decided that it wasn't my thing. I was wrong. After further listen however, I had a much different perspective of the instrumental music. Each song had plenty of texture and depth, and soon after a disappointing first opinion of the music, I realized that my early judgment was holding me back from the point of the music, which has a purpose to lead the listener into the presence of God. And that is what The Ember Days are all about, not just making music because it sounds good on the ears, but for those listening to just truly worship God.

After all that previously said, The Ember Days are now bringing us a brand new, full length album (their first since Your Eyes Light Up), entitled Emergency. To those approaching this new album as a continuation of the ambience and atmosphere of Finger Painting, that is an incorrect assumption. Emergency takes a bit of a new direction for the band, with a darker, rockier feel at times, and at others, there are more subtle moments of intimate worship, that inspire you to just get alone into a quiet place, and experience God's never ending, loving presence.

The first half of Emergency is a bit more aggressive and rock-driven, especially "Unite Your Bride," on which guitarist Jason Belcher does lead vocals for, along with the reworking of "Yeshua" as well. Janell Belcher still takes the lead vocal position for the majority of the album, and her vocals go from hitting powerful sections on "Make Us One," to a softer side on "How Great You Are" and "Adore." The album also has a new, redone version of their older song, "Run To You," which has a bit more of a full sound, as a result of the added electric guitars.

There is in fact an instrumental on Emergency, which is the album's title track, but really does not sound anything like the instrumentals on Finger Painting. The song is mainly made up of piano strokes, which at one point reaches a crescendo, where it adds in guitars, strings, and percussion, before dying back down into where "Emergency" started. One of the album's highest points follows soon after. "High Above" is highlighted with Janell's vocals, and light, sweet piano parts, and its chorus of adoration for Christ is a joyous thing to hear.

Overall: The Ember Days have a sole purpose, and that is to worship. Emergency only furthers their mission and ministry as a band, and in all the prayers and adoration of God in these 10 songs, the listener is encouraged to get very intimate and personal with our Creator, and pour out our hearts to Him. To me, that is an amazing thing, and I encourage you to check out this album, as a free gift from the band and Come&Live!, and truly enter into the presence of God with worship.

Reviewed by Brooks Ginnan

Tracklisting:
  1. Unite Your Bride
  2. Make Us One
  3. All Honor
  4. Run To You
  5. Yeshua
  6. How Great You Are
  7. Emergency
  8. High Above
  9. Adore
  10. Sound Of You
(Free Download)
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Artist: A White Flag
Album: The Exchange EP
Release Date: August 24, 2011
Label: Come&Live!

What happens when one of the hardcore scene's top vocalists goes solo and decides to tone it down and make a worship album? The result is A White Flag, Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant's worship project. Come&Live! have this to say about The Exchange EP: "While living with his two year old daughter and parents during his divorce seven years ago, Tommy found himself in utter brokenness and isolated time with the Lord. He picked up his father's guitar in a simple effort to express his thoughts and new-found joy in surrendering to Jesus." These songs Tommy wrote would later become The Exchange EP.

Upon first listen, you can't help but make out Tommy's very recognizable voice. His lyrics, along with the acoustic guitar, are a perfect combination for worship music. The Exchange starts out with a very straight to the point song, entitled "Sheep Amidst The Wolves." With its chorus of "feed me to the wolves," Tommy lets you know this isn't your parents' worship CD and he isn't afraid to go against the grain. Next up is a very fittingly named tune called "Sacred." During this song, Tommy pours out his heart, letting the listener know how sacred his relationship with the Lord is. He belts out how one day, he looks forward  to being before the Lord to be judged, and even at that moment, he can't help but worship.

"Waves and Breakers" follows with a sound that is semi-reminiscent of Dallas Green and the band City & Colour. During this song, he mentions how he can now step out of the boat and into the water, without being afraid of the waves and whatever else the enemy throws his way. This song truly shows Tommy's love for Christ and how much he trusts Him to protect him in every moment of his life. It also shows how God is the great Maker and makes beauty even from the ashes. "Emmaus" discusses our every day walk and the decisions we make, and the choice to either follow the world or take up our cross and follow Jesus. The track entitled "Apple of My Eye" ends the EP the right way, by showing how Tommy is willing to give up all he is to follow the One who loves him like no other.

Overall: A White Flag is a fresh breath of air in a world of worship music gone terribly stale. Tommy Green has made a sound uniquely his own, and that lovers of all genres of worship music will enjoy. The lyrics are heartfelt and sincere, and truly show Tommy's love for Christ. The Exchange EP shows that even when things look their darkest and the enemy has you up against the wall, it is possible to make music that is nothing but pure light to a world that so desperately needs it. My only negative thing to say about the The Exchange is that I wish it was longer. It is only five tracks long, and runs about 27 minutes. Just as you are getting really into it, the EP is done and having left you wanting more. I guess this will hopefully lead to another A White Flag album, when Tommy has more time away from Sleeping Giant and his ministry. For now, be sure to pick up The Exchange EP, available for free download via Come&Live!.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by Stephen Campagna

Tracklisting:
  1. Sheep Amidst The Wolves
  2. Sacred
  3. Waves and Breakers
  4. Emmaus
  5. Apple of My Eye
(Free Download)
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Hundredth have posted the second song off their sophomore album, Let Go, which is titled "Restless." The song can be heard right here, and it features guest vocals from Cody Bonnette of As Cities Burn/Hawkboy. Let Go will release September 27th on Mediaskare Records, and can currently be pre-ordered from Merchconnection.
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The Devil Wears Prada are currently streaming their upcoming album, Dead Throne, at the album's website. The site also includes the band's Australian tour dates, and the tour dates for their Dead Throne Tour, which includes support from For Today, Whitechapel, and Enter Shikari, and a link to pre-order the new album as well. Dead Throne will be available in stores and online on September 13th via Ferret Records.
Purple Door 2011 Recap



Purple Door Arts and Music Festival 2011, August 12-13, Lebanon Valley Expo and Fairgrounds
Lebanon, Pennsylvania


This way my second time attending Purple Door, and it's such a great music festival. As you may know, Purple Door moved their festival this year from the Roundtop Mountain Resort (where they've held the festival for the last nine years) to the Lebonon Valley Expo and Fairgrounds. The festival was set up pretty nicely. They of course had the main stage outside on the fairgrounds, and they had two other stages (the LBC and Relevant stages) that were inside the expo center building, which worked great, since it rained Saturday evening.

They also had Come&Live! set up in the expo center, which they called the Come&Live! Lounge. There, they held interviews and special speakers, which featured the likes of Aaron Gillespie, Andrew Schwab, Mattie Montgomery, and a few more. There was a pretty cool set up for all the band merch and non-profit organizations as well, and they were all set up on the fairgrounds in the "petting zoo" barns, which again worked out great because of the rain. And of course we cannot forget about the yummy food vendors, which were set up on the fairgrounds between the main stage and the merch tables. They had a milkshake vendor there also, but they sold out before I got any, haha!

Friday


I arrived at the festival on Friday, about a half hour before they opened the gates. So lets talk music, shall we? I started off seeing House of Heroes on the main stage, which was my second time seeing them live, and they definitely did not disappoint! I have been a fan of House of Heroes since they're No Tagback days. With every album they release, they progress more and more. Songs they played include "God Save The Foolish Kings," "In The Valley Of The Dying Sun," "Serial Sleepers," and a few others.

Later, I headed to the LBC stage and watched the last half of a set from Yesterday Is Waiting, a local band from Hershey, PA. They were pretty good, and reminded me of the band The Early November. The songs I saw them perform were "Breakdown This Town," "Peter Pan," and another which I did not catch the name of. After Yesterday Is Waiting's set, Lancaster, PA's one and only Texas In July performed on the LBC stage. This was my second time seeing them live, and they definitely know how to give the crowd a show worth paying for! The set was great, and there was an older lady, probably in her late 60's, that was behind the stage, dancing and jumping all around during their set! I assume that it must have been one of the band members' grandmother, but either way, she knew how to rock! Texas In July played "Magnolia," "Hook, Line and Sinner," "Aurora," "It's Not My First Rodeo," and one or two more.

The final show that I got to see on Friday night was from The Chariot, and I have never seen a show like this one. It's kind of hard to explain. They have so much energy on stage, it's unreal. Now before I saw them that night, I heard that they like to throw instruments around, and mosh with the crowd. It's safe to say that what I heard was 100% correct. I was in the press pit for their whole set, and when I was not snapping shots of them, I was standing there frozen with my mouth open, completely dumbfounded. Trying to remember the song's they played is hard, because their set was more chaos than about songs! However, I could make out the songs "Evan Perks," "Calvin Makenzie," and "Daggers."

Saturday


Saturday, I arrived at Purple Door a little after 12:00 PM to a bit of rainy clouds, but that was not gonna stop me from enjoying the day. I started off by looking around at the merch tables, before walking down to the LBC stage to see my first band on my to-see list.

Before I saw As Hell Retreats, I had only actually heard of them, but never any of their songs. The band was definitely nothing special, but they were pretty good, none the less, and put on a great show. I honestly could not tell you what songs they played, since i ever heard a song by them until that day, but I am certainly going to look into them. After As Hell Retreats, it was I, The Breather's turn to rock the expo center, and they sure did that. I heard the band's album These Are My Sins when it first came out, and was impressed, but I never really listened to them after that. After their set though, I am definitely a fan.

From there, I went to the Come&Live! Lounge to see Aaron Gillespie's interview, and it was totally worth it. Aaron Gillespie is by far my favorite musician, ever since Underoath's The Changing of Times, and especially since I play drums as well. He spoke about God and read some scripture from the Bible for a few minutes, and what he said definitely spoke to me! After that, I ran right back over to the LBC stage to see For Today, another band I did not know much about. I listened to their album Breaker a few weeks before, and loved it, but did not own it. They are for sure one of my favorite bands right now however. Not only did they put on a fantastic show, but Mattie Montgomery, their vocalist, talked about God for a few minutes, and man, can he preach! A few songs I recognized were "Devastator" and "Seraphim."

From there, I went to the Relevant stage to see Aaron Gillespie perform. It was definitely a worship experience, and it was awesome! After his set, we were told by Purple Door staff that they were going to be moving Project 86 and Underoath to the LBC stage, because of incoming rain. Shortly after Aaron's set, it did start raining pretty bad, so everyone made their way to camp in the expo center, in front of the LBC stage doors. We probably sat outside the doors for about an hour and 45 minutes until they let people into the building, but it was totally worth it.

This was my second time seeing Project 86, and they are awesome live. You can definitely tell that they give it their all on stage. I only wish I could have sat in on Andrew Schwab's interview at the Come&Live! Lounge. They played so many good songs, including "Me Against Me," and I cannot wait to see them next year at Purple Door!

The best were saved for last this year at Purple Door, Underoath, who were great as usual. This was my fifth time seeing them live, and they never disappoint. I was really wondering how their live show would go without Aaron Gillespie, and I was wrong to ever doubt them. Their light and screen show was pretty neat, and for certain songs that they performed that originally had a music video for, they played it on screen as a distorted clip. They played "Paper Lung," "Writing On The Walls," "In Regards To Myself," "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door," "In Division," "Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near," and a few more to end the festival.

All in all, Purple Door was a blast this year. Who's ready for Purple Door 2012?

- Kendall Moore

Purple Door 2011 Photo Gallery (© 2011 ChristianRockRocks.com)
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Oceans and Vessels are an indie worship band out of Elmira, NY, with a passion to lead others in worshiping our Creator. They released a new EP, The Wrecked, earlier this year, which is now available on iTunes. The band will also be leading worship at iMatter Festival on Friday, September 2nd, alongside The Ember Days, Trip Lee, Flame, and Benjah. For more information on Oceans and Vessels, you can visit their website.
SoulFest 2011 Recap



SoulFest 2011, August 3-6, Gunstock Mountain Resort
Gilford, New Hampshire

SoulFest is one of the Northeast's biggest Christian music festivals, and is located at the Gunstock Mountain Resort, a very nice area for a music festival. This year was my first year attending SoulFest, and the four and a half hour drive was certainly well worth it, even if I missed the festival's first day, Wednesday.

Thursday

I personally arrived at the festival on Thursday afternoon, a little before 3:00 PM, unfortunately missing Wednesday, and helped set up camp on the festival campgrounds I was staying on. After that was taken care of, I headed up to the festival itself, getting there right after Abel finished up their second set of SoulFest, on the Inside Out Stage. I caught a bit of Divinity Theory, who were playing some hardcore punk inside the Inside Out Stage tent, before heading up the mountain top with Abel for an interview. On our way to the ski lift however, I did get to watch some Ascend The Hill, who were playing the Revival Stage, the festival's main stage, to a pretty large crowd. They played "Take The World, But Give Me Jesus," among some other hymns from their new album. After talking with Abel, and hearing some of Lainey Wright on the Mountain Top Stage, I headed back down, for yet another interview with Dave Swanson of The Frozen Ocean and Life In Your Way.


Shortly after, I had some dinner, missing Exiting The Fall, an up and coming post-hardcore band with plenty of potential, but made it just in time for the recently reunited Life In Your Way. Playing their second show back as a band, they played some songs from Waking Giants, such as "Reach The End," and several new ones as well from the upcoming Kingdoms. Project 86 hit the Inside Out Stage next, opening with live staple and fan favorite, "The Spy Hunter." They also played "Evil (Chorus of Resistance)" and "Sincerely, Ichabod." John Reuben was playing the Deeper Well Stage in the meantime, headlining the stage's hip hop night, leading the crowd in a yelling of "dance party!" for a few minutes, and eventually playing "Doin'," to name one that I recognized. I then walked to the packed out Revival Stage, to a candlelight service of a few thousand, before Chris Tomlin and band took the stage with "Our God." The last band of the night I would see was Red, who headlined the Inside Out Stage, playing some new songs like "Feed The Machine" and "Faceless," and the recent radio hit, "Never Alone," while also playing older songs such as "Shadows," "Death of Me," and "Breathe Into Me." After the band were done, and mostly everyone was gone from the festival, Paul Colman had a time of recollection for the day at the Deeper Well Stage, bringing up some guests to play with him, and I ended my night watching him for a bit, before heading to camp to get some rest for the next day.

Friday

Friday was the third day of SoulFest, and started out a bit slow. The first band I got to catch in the morning was Tenth Avenue North, playing an early morning acoustic set on the Mountain Top Stage. After the relaxing 15 minute ski lift ride up (including a few sudden stops), I could hear the band playing their current radio single, "Strong Enough To Save." After listening to the band introduce themselves, I left the set, to avoid the long lines for the ski lift. I then headed back to camp for a bit for some lunch and to spend time at our campgrounds. Soon after, I headed back up to the Inside Out Stage to catch The City Harmonic. The band put on a surprisingly great show, playing not only their hit "Manifesto," but some other songs off their current EP, and three new songs, titled "Yours," "Spark," and the title track off their upcoming album, releasing October 18th, named "I Have A Dream (It's Called Home)." The band also then preceded to switch it up a bit, and Elias, the band's vocalist, picked up an acoustic guitar, and a few other members played harmonica and possibly a bongo drum for a fun rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The band also switched instruments for another part of their set as well, their drummer playing piano, their bassist playing drums, and Elias continuing to play acoustic guitar. I was very impressed, and look forward to hearing the band's new album this fall.

Next up on the Inside Out Stage were Tooth & Nail's talented pop rock band, Hyland. The band played only from Weights & Measures, their new album, and announced that their song "Desperate Man" would be the next radio single from the album. They put on a solid show for sure, although the crowd was fairly small. Write This Down followed up Hyland, with a very energetic set, of their post-hardcore infused with some pop punk. They opened with the heavy "Renegade," and moved onto songs such as "Redemption" and "We Shot The Moon." After some dinner, I took a festival bus back to the grounds, and relaxed at a picnic table next to the Mercy St. Cafe for a bit, before the rain. It started off as a small drizzle, but by the time I headed back to camp to make sure all the tents were okay, the rain turned to a torrential downpour. I decided to just go back to the festival, and take refuge under the Inside Out Stage tent. Brian "Head Welch and band were just finishing up their last song, and they had a huge crowd. It was still surprisingly very muddy in the tent, but it was worth the wait to see Flatfoot 56, who always put on a great show. The band's Celtic punk rock is always great to hear (and watch in this case), playing "Smoke Blower" and a bunch of other songs spanning their discography, and of course ending with "Amazing Grace." The Inside Out Stage headliners for the night, and a longtime favorite band of mine, Emery, soon after took the stage. They opened with "So Cold I Could See My Breath," and then "The Cheval Glass." They also played "Scissors" and "The Curse of Perfect Days" from their latest album, We Do What We Want, and then went on to play an acoustic set, made up of "I Never Got To See The West Coast" and "The Ponytail Parades," the latter to the delight of the crowd. They also played "The Smile, The Face" and "Butcher's Mouth," and closed with fan favorite, "Walls," before coming back out for one more song to end with, "Studying Politics." I must say that fill-in bassist, Andy Nichols (of Queens Club), did a great job, and provided some quality backing vocals.

After Emery were over, I thought I would check out the Mercy St. Cafe for some late night music. As I walked in, I was impressed with the band who were playing, Big Kettledrum, a Southern rock band, who were putting on a fun show. Next up, after a long soundcheck, were The Wrecking. They played "Sound of The Resistance," "Fire," a few new songs, and "About To Fall" from what I heard, before leaving halfway through the set. Paul Colman was doing his late night set/recollection of the day at the Deeper Well Stage, and I got to see him playing "The One Thing," with some guests, who added some fun to the song. After that, I headed back to camp to rest up for Saturday, the festival's last day.

Saturday


Saturday was the last day of SoulFest, and it started off interesting for me. I made it to the festival at 10 that morning, to check interview times for the day, and I was planning on watching Chad Johnson, founder of Come&Live!, at 10:30. I walked over to the Inside Out Stage where he was set to be speaking, and walked into something I was not expecting: a mass. Now when I saw on the schedule "Mass Celebration," I figured it would just be a large gathering of early morning worshipers, and not literally a Catholic mass, which caught me off guard. I waited for it to end, before actually heading back into the tent with the Inside Out Stage. Chad opened up his slotted speaking time with prayer, and then went into talking about his life and daily walk with God, and the beginnings of Come&Live!, a non-profit ministry that works as a community of musicians (musicianaries), all who give their music away for free. It was great to hear him speak, as CRR have been huge supporters of C&L! since their beginnings. I left a few minutes before he ended speaking, to catch up with The Ember Days for an interview with them on the mountain top. Starting off his acoustic worship set when we arrived at the top was Aaron Gillespie, who played both "We Were Made For You" and "Earnestly I Seek Thee" from his new album, Anthem Song, and some Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, and Matt Maher covers as well.

I then had some lunch and spent some more time at the campgrounds, taking a two hour break, before heading back to the festival at around 2:30. I watched Paul Colman's songwriting workshop at the Deeper Well Stage, which had a good sized crowd. He chose some people from the crowd to play some originals, and would work with the individual (after they performed) on how to make the song sound better. There was some real talent in the few artists that I saw, including a guy who had written a song about cliche Christian t-shirts he had seen throughout the week, and a friend of mine as well, named Troy Cole, who played a newly written song named "My Surrender." Right after, I got to interview Aaron Gillespie, and could hear Thousand Foot Krutch loud and clear from the press tent, performing the classic "Rawkfist."

Unfortunately due to dinner, I missed nearly all of The Ember Days 5:10 set on the Inside Out Stage, except for the last few minutes of it. Soon after, I headed over to the Revival Stage for one of the night's headlining acts, The Almost. They broke open their set with the high energy "Monster Monster," and played a few songs off the album of the same title as well, including "Hands" and "Lonely Wheel." They also played "Say This Sooner," which Aaron Gillespie stated was written about Johnny Cash, and "Southern Weather." The band also surprisingly played their Tom Petty cover, "Free Fallin'," which was great in the live setting. They then slowed things down a bit when they played "Dirty and Left Out," and "Amazing Because It Is," mixed with a cover of Hillsong's "With Everything," which Aaron performed last year with Canadian worship band Nine O Five, to close their set. After The Almost were finished, there was a half hour break, and a speaker for the organization Show Hope, which was followed by Caleb Chapman, Stephen Curtis Chapman's son and vocalist of the band Caleb, playing a few songs acoustic. He did "We Will Wait" and "Kingdom of Me," both of which I was very impressed with. After seeing his small set, I do wish that I had the opportunity to watch his band Caleb on Thursday, instead of just walking by a few of their sets.

After years of being a fan, this year was my first time seeing Switchfoot. Jon Foreman ran out onto the stage, with the rest of the band, and they started into "Mess of Me." "Stars" and "Oh, Gravity" followed up. The thousands of people at SoulFest watching the band were all singing along to every song, and when the band performed "We Are One Tonight," it was no exception; an amazing sight to see. The stage lights then dimmed down, and Jon Foreman walked out with a harmonica, and played it for a bit, before the opening sounds of "Your Love Is A Song" were heard. The band also played "The Sound," and "Gone," before debuting some new songs from their upcoming album, Vice Verses. The songs included the band's current radio single, "Restless," as well as the album's edgy opener, "Afterlife." I also heard the band do "Free" (from Hello Hurricane) and "This Is Your Life" as well, but left right after they later played another new single, "Dark Horses." My last set of the SoulFest that I would catch, and the festival's closing one, was The Ember Days. They got to play a new song from Emergency, and "Rest," from Finger Painting, before they switched to an acoustic set, due to later night sound limits. They played a new version of "Yeshua," another new song, and "It Is Well," to end their set. The presence of God during their set was amazing, and everyone there, myself included, was worshiping in some way, shape, or form. An amazing way to end SoulFest 2011.

Looking back, SoulFest was certainly an amazing time of music, friendship, and inspiration. The times of worship were amazing, from the upbeat style of The City Harmonic, to the intimate setting of The Ember Days, God's presence was certainly there. This year's SoulFest was definitely a highlight of all the big summer festivals and shows, and I am definitely looking forward to next year already!

Recap by Brooks Ginnan

SoulFest 2011 Photo Gallery (© 2011 ChristianRockRocks.com)

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Artist: Icon For Hire
Album: Scripted
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Label: Tooth & Nail Records

Take Paramore, Fireflight, and Flyleaf, and throw them all into a pot. The end product would be one of Tooth & Nail's newest additions, Icon For Hire. That's the problem with having a female-fronted band, you're always going to be compared to the rest of the field, and in the Christian market, there aren't many other choices. With one look at the band, you can instantly tell which audience they're aiming towards, with Ariel's pink hair and Hot Topic punk outfit, leading me to think that they'll be very big with the said audience.

The music on Scripted is some good, upbeat, pop-punk, and alternative music. The bad thing is that each song kind of sounds the same, and a lot of it reminds you of other songs. Having said that, I don't think Icon For Hire were going into this album to reinvent the wheel or revolutionize the music industry, but they were aiming to make a solid alternative pop-punk album, and they did that. The music may not be the best thing you've ever heard, but it is good, and enjoyable. There's a little techno intro to a couple of songs, as well as the intro to the album. The music on "Off With Her Head" is probably my favorite. The guitar work is great for the song, and gets stuck in your head from first listen. There is a pretty piano intro to "The Grey," where Ariel shows off her chops as well, before the song kicks into a touching song, complete with strings, before once again kicking into your typical alternative rock song. The band is talented at what they do, but I think there is definitely room to grow on the next album.

Ariel has a great voice, and her voice is perfect for the style of music that the band is doing on Scripted. A downfall is that the first time I heard the first single, "Make A Move," I thought it was Paramore, and then when it got to the chorus, it sounded more like Fireflight. There's also songs where she sounds a lot like Lacey from Flyleaf. I'm not saying that she is copying these other talented vocalists; but you can tell that they influenced her career. There are songs where Ariel sounds completely original, and makes the song her own, like on "Off With Her Head," which has a part where she sings really fast. Also, the song "Theater" is a great song to show off Ariel's originality.

One area where Scripted shines is its lyrics. I think they are very good, and mature, considering the style of music it is. One of the examples of the lyrics I like would be the opening lines of "Off With Her Head," "I'm lucky if I ever see the light of day again/My sin is choking me, my crude built walls are closing in." I also like the lyrics in "The Grey," in which I think there is a great, powerful part: "In your deepest pain/In your weakest hour/In your darkest night/You are lovely."

Overall: Scripted, Icon For Hire's debut album, is enjoyable, but somewhat forgettable. It's a hard choice being a band with a female lead singer in the same genre as most of the other female-led bands out there. The album has some good songs on it, and songs which will get stuck in your head for a while, but the rest of the album doesn't compare. There is talent in the band, and potential for them to grow into something more, and perhaps become the frontrunner for this genre, but right now, I think they're still following in the footsteps of the bands that have come before them. If you're a fan of Flyleaf, Paramore, Fireflight, or Schoolyard Heroes, I'd go out and buy this album.

Rating: 6/10

Recommended Tracks: "Theater," "Make A Move," "Up In Flames," and "Off With Her Head"

Reviewed by Michael Small

Tracklisting:
  1. Overture
  2. Theater
  3. Make A Move
  4. Get Well
  5. The Grey
  6. Off With Her Head
  7. Fight
  8. Up In Flames
  9. Iodine
  10. Only A Memory
  11. Pieces
(Buy Here)

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Regenerate Music Co. Launches with a New Business Model,
a New Vision and Impressive Collection of Artists.
 
Atlanta, GA – August 24, 2011.  The music business has had a challenging past few years.  With a struggling world-wide economy and music piracy running rampant, it is easy to see why. 
 
But a group of motivated, business-minded creatives have partnered to form Regenerate Music Company.  With offices in Atlanta, GA and Cleveland, TN, Regenerate is committed to rethinking the standard contracts and concepts of the music industry.
 
Utilizing an innovative mix of music production and distribution, media development and strategy, social action and philanthropy, and bringing back a focus on artist development, Regenerate is poised to introduce a new model to the entertainment business.
 
“We realized that most of the artists we knew were having problems returning a profit for their art, so we decided to create a new model, that is more fiscally responsible therefore more profitable for the artists” explains Chris Garmon, President.
 
Regenerate knew that bringing in-house an award winning production team and state of the art recording studios would set them apart and create ease with the artists.
 
For the past decade, Tyler Orr and his First Street Studio in Cleveland, TN has built a solid resume and achieved being one of the most active recording studios in the southeast.  With an extensive gear list, as well as free housing for out of town bands, First Street has been the recording home of bands such as As Cities Burn, So Long Forgotten, Belle Epoche, Rookie of the Year and Cory Chisel.
 
Matt Goldman and Glow in the Dark Studios in Atlanta can prove their studio’s impact simply by the amount of Gold and Platinum records they have produced.  Underoath, Anberlin, The Chariot, Copeland, Becoming the Archetype and Meg and Dia are just a few of the artists who have created projects at Glow in the Dark.
 
To show their commitment to development, Regenerate assembled a community committed to the individual needs of each artist, Regenerate aims to be a key support in songwriting, brand development, social media, business development, web creation, graphic design and video production. 
 
Regenerate, while being only a year old, has attracted a solid list of artists, including Hawkboy, Dinner and a Suit, Asiah Mehok, Micah Massey, Rusty Clanton and Professor Alderman’s Good Dream Academy. 
 
“Our future is bright,” Garmon says. “We are excited to be able to join with so many others out there in pioneering a new future for the music industry, and enabling artists to bring their music to the world.”
 
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The Ember Days are releasing their long awaited full length album, Emergency, on August 30th, through Come&Live!. We had the opportunity to talk with the band on the mountain top at SoulFest this year, and to catch a few of their sets. Emergency will be available as a free gift from Come&Live!, and can also be purchased from the band, or on iTunes and AmazonMP3.

 The Ember Days 2011 (Pt. 1) by Christian Rock Rocks

 The Ember Days 2011 (Pt. 2) by Christian Rock Rocks

 The Ember Days 2011 (Pt. 3) by Christian Rock Rocks

Emergency Album Artwork:
Emergency
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You may have heard the name Windsor Drive from their spot on Mae's farewell tour last year, but we got to chat with all four members of the band on their last day of Warped Tour, about the band's beginnings, new music, and their first run of Warped. (Interview took place on July 17th, 2011)

 Winsor Drive 2011 (Pt. 1) by Christian Rock Rocks

 Winsor Drive 2011 (Pt. 2) by Christian Rock Rocks
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Florida's Bellarive, part of the Come&Live! community, are looking to fund their new album through Kickstarter. They only have a week left, and need to raise a little under $2,000 to earn the money to record and give away their new album. You can support the band either financially, or through prayer. For more information on Bellarive, you can visit their website, and also download their EP, The Being Human Project... Start Listening, for free from Come&Live!.
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Strike First Records welcomes Nothing Til Blood to the family.

Nothing Til Blood has sewn their hardcore, punk, and metal roots together to develop an inveterate hardcore band, energized by their Birmingham, Alabama scene. Fresh out of the gates in 2011, now Nothing Til Blood joins the Strike First family in time to release their debut album When Lambs Become Lions. Recorded at The Basement with Jamie King (For Today, Between the Buried and Me), NTB's debut promises to be right on par with Strike First's heaviest releases.

Look for When Lambs Become Lions on September 27 from Strike First Records.

Check out a video from their forthcoming album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWEB8pvSfKQ

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A Plea For Purging have posted a studio update that includes a sample of a new song off their upcoming album that is currently being recorded, and is set to release later this year via Facedown Records. The update can be viewed here.
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Creations have released another new song, "The Tongue, The Sword," which can be streamed at Stereokiller. The song comes off the band's upcoming album, The Gospel, which is out August 30th on Rite of Passage/Mediaskare Records, and can be pre-ordered here.
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Forever Ended Yesterday [+Digital Booklet]

Artist: These Hearts
Album: Forever Ended Yesterday
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Label: Victory Records

The heavy music scene lately has been in over abundance of sound-alike "scenecore" and popcore bands, bands blending pop rock with hardcore. These bands really do not bring much to offer to heavy music, and at times can get annoying to listen to. These Hearts are a new addition of the Victory Records family (A Day to Remember, Close Your Eyes), and are in fact a popcore band. They have the typical upbeat chugging riffs, high vocals, poppy sound, and breakdowns. The lyrical content of the album is full of hopeful messages, about both faith and relationships.

Musically, Forever Ended Yesterday is not really all that bad, but some of the riffs are a bit stereotypical for the genre. The vocal section is the main downfall of the album, due to the high, whiny clean vocals, and some of the screams aren't all that great either. While the deeper growls are actually done well, when the higher screams are attempted, they come off as almost gargled, and do not have a great outcome.

Although much of Forever Ended Yesterday can be hard to get through as a whole, there are a few songs that show some potential from the band. The first is "Romans 15," which starts out with gang vocals, that move into growls, accompanied by some melodic hardcore instrumentation, which is a nice break from all chugging. The other song that shows a bit more diversity is the acoustic ballad, "Thinking In Terms of Two," a love song, backed by some female vocals. Vocalist Ryan Saunders shows off a different side of his vocals, both softer and lower pitched, which sound much better as compared to the higher range he uses most of the time.

Overall: Forever Ended Yesterday from new band These Hearts is a hard one to take in, with its high whiny vocals and stereotypical popcore instrumentation. I do feel that songs such as "Romans 15" and "Thinking In Terms of Two" show some potential for the band however, and if they could build more on the structures of those songs, they could definitely sound better and improve. Until then however, you may want to look elsewhere for new music.

Rating: 3/10

Reviewed by Brooks Ginnan


Tracklisting:
  1. Apology Rejected
  2. Quitting While You're Behind
  3. Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt
  4. Romans 15
  5. Self Respect
  6. Forever Ended Yesterday
  7. Are You Mad?
  8. She'd Like To Wear The Pants, But She Can't Fit Into Mine
  9. Live To The Point Of Tears
  10. Thinking In Terms Of Two
  11. Dime A Dozen

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    Monoculture

    Artist: Sainthood Reps
    Album: Monoculture
    Release Date: August 9, 2011
    Label: Tooth & Nail Records

    Lately, the music industry has been in a place where many artists have been selling out to still make it as a band. Sainthood Reps are not one of those bands. One of Tooth & Nail Records' latest editions, the band is completely different than any other band on the label. In fact, Sainthood Reps sound more like a band that the label would have signed possibly 10 years ago, with a both aggressive and delicate indie rock sound, which draws comparisons to that of Tooth & Nail alumni mewithoutYou and As Cities Burn, as well as bands such as Brand New. The Brand New influence comes as no surprise, as the band's guitarist, Derrick Sherman, is also the guitarist of Sainthood Reps.

    The chaotic title track kicks off Monoculture, followed by the quirky "Dingus," a song with slow verses that build into a yelled chorus of "Who do you think you are?" "Telemarketeer" is a much slower song, kept downbeat, and has a melancholy, almost atmospheric vibe to it, which carries into the soft intro of "Animal Glue." After the intro however, "Animal Glue" breaks out of its mold into edgy guitars, and contains one of frontman Francesco Montesanto's best vocal performances on the album.

    Taking on a more subtle note is "Hunter," a simplistic track made up of a softly strummed guitar, and some minimal percussion at times, before heading back into the album's more raw and chaotic nature, on "No/Survival."The tempo is changed up again, on the melodic "Hotfoot," one of Monoculture's most memorable moments, a well-structured song that features some vibrant guitar work. "Holiday Makers" takes on a dreary sound, not uncommon to indie rock, but is done very well, with haunting background vocals towards the end of the song, meshing together with the lead vocal part, for an interesting mix. Following in suit, the rest of the album is a bit more toned down as well, with the mainly soft "reactor, reactor, reactor, REACTOR!, that does build up for a yelled chorus of "Watch the world melt away," before moving into the closing "Widow." The song comes off as somewhat Manchester Orchestra-esque, but with a bit more stripped down feel, that the band pull off very well.

    Overall: Sainthood Reps are a fresh face to the modern indie rock scene, and certainly have something to prove with Monoculture. From chaotic, yelled parts, to subtle, simplistic sections, the album contains a lot of diversity, spread throughout its 10 tracks. Although not the best album I've heard of the genre, Monoculture is certainly a good one, proving to be one of the best albums that Tooth & Nail have put out this year, and I think that Sainthood Reps have a lot to offer, with their raw, edgy sound, so be on the look out for more good things to come from this band in the future,

    Rating: 8/10

    Reviewed by Brooks Ginnan

    Tracklisting:
    1. Monoculture
    2. Dingus
    3. Telemarketeer
    4. Animal Glue
    5. Hunter
    6. No/Survival
    7. Hotfoot
    8. Holiday Makers
    9. reactor, reactor, reactor, REACTOR!
    10. Widow

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      The pre-orders for Thrice's forthcoming album, Major/Minor, are now available here. Right after the release of the new album, Thrice will be touring this fall with Moving Mountains, La Dispute, and O'Brother. The tour dates can be viewed here.
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      Come&Live! have some brand new music available now, from a few new artists that have recently joined the C&L! community. The first band is Honor The Emperor, whose new EP The Prayers is full of indie worship vibes, and the second is The Rock Music, who also have a new EP out, titled Alive My Soul. Both of those EPs are now available to listen to and download, right here. The Ember Days also have a new single available as well, "Make Us One," which is off their upcoming, full-length album, Emergency, available August 30th from Come&Live!. Be sure to check out C&L! if you haven't already, download the music from over 20 artists (all completely and legally free), and even consider supporting them. For more info, check out the Come&Live! website.
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      The Prophecy

      Artist: Sovereign Strength
      Album: The Prophecy
      Release Date: August 2, 2011
      Label: Mediaskare Records

      Sovereign Strength are one of those bands that kind of came out of nowhere, it would seem. I hadn't even heard of them up until late last year, when I decided to pick up their first album, Reflections, after reading an interview with them. I jammed it for about a week, and then forgot about it. I felt as if the music was just a bunch of chugging riffs thrown together with some lyrics to be heavy just for the sake of being heavy, and honestly that type of music just doesn't stick with me. When I heard that they would be releasing The Prophecy, I was very hesitant to even care to pick the album up. Let me just say that the guys in Sovereign Strength took my lowered expectations and gave me hope.

      The Prophecy starts out with "Darkest Sin," featuring guest vocals from Jamie Hanks of I Declare War. The song really sets the pace for the rest of the album. The most noticeable change on The Prophecy, as compared to Reflections, is the production. It is a huge step up from the last set of recordings, and overall makes the album more enjoyable. The next thing I noticed about the album as it went on was the lack of clean singing. Some releases in the last few months have had me really excited, and then only were crushed by the addition of clean vocals that sound thrown in at the last minute. On the track "Bring Me Home," you get a first taste of what might be considered clean vocals, thanks to Shane Raymond of Close Your Eyes. The album closes with "Revival," and is probably my favorite track. Even though there are some clean vocals at the end of the song (from Blake Martin of A Plea For Purging), it sure does close the album out well.

      Vocally, I feel like Sovereign Strength really stepped up their game since Reflections. Jordan King's vocals have really improved, which sound more natural and controlled, and of course his lyrics still show a positive message throughout the album, of the hope of God, and the strength He provides. Earlier I said that the band tries too hard to be heavy for the sake of being heavy, but this time around, I do feel as if they did try to keep focus on the structure of the songs, instead of trying to sound as heavy as possible. However, with most metal bands these days, after a few listens, the consistent sound of chugging and breakdowns gets predictable and tiresome, and that is really the only downfall of this album for me.

      Overall: Sovereign Strength is a band that I believe has what it takes to keep rising up in the Spirit-filled hardcore/metal ranks. Though there is nothing groundbreaking about this release, I still think it is a solid one. So, if you feel like getting off your feet and throwing down in a mosh pit, I would recommend picking up The Prophecy.

      Rating: 7/10

      Recommended Tracks: "Darkest Sin," "Bring Me Home," and "Revival"

      Reviewed by Tabor Brown

      Tracklisting:
      1. Darkest Sin
      2. Words Without Meaning
      3. No Victory
      4. Bring Me Home
      5. More to Life
      6. Last War
      7. Everlasting Fire
      8. Shame
      9. What I've Become
      10. Revival
      (Buy Here)

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      Exhumed

      Artist: Grave Robber
      Album: Exhumed
      Release Date: December 4, 2010
      Label: Rottweiler Records

      Anyone that says punk is dead has never listened to Fort Wayne, Indiana's Grave Robber. With an image that draws influence from countless scenes of a classic horror film, and a sound reminiscent of classic horror-punk bands like The Misfits, coursing through the veins of each song, Grave Robber personifies the heyday of punk and not this new pop-punk stuff that's out today. Although Exhumed is Grave Robber's first release on the newly founded Rottweiler Records, it is the band's third release overall. Exhumed features four new songs, two re-recordings from the band's previous material, and five remastered tracks from their 2005 demo. While there is a slight lack of new material on the album, it works because most people have never heard of Grave Robber... until now.

      The first thing that jumps out while listening to Exhumed is that punk or horror-punk is alive and well. The music is what you'd expect from an old-school punk album. There's nothing exceptionally original about the music, but the band find a way to make it work. That's the beauty and the curse of punk: it's so simplistic and not susceptible to change.However, on the fourth track, "Fill This Place with Blood," this is a slightly more rock feel to the music, and it fits the album and the song amazingly well, without taking anything away from the punk vibe of the album. Even though there is nothing special about the music, it's still an extremely solid and well-done punk sound, and it doesn't get stale as you listen through the album in its entirety. Each song sounds different, and takes on its own identity, yet still flows with the songs around it.

      What Exhumed lacks in musical originality, it more than makes up for in lyrics, and vocals. Lead singer Wretched has the perfect old-school punk voice. When I heard the opening track, "Army of the Dead," I was blown away by the fact that someone could hit that classic style so flawlessly. However, the best part about the album has to be the lyrical content. One example of this is from the third song, "Altered States": "What has become of the wretch that was me/That old creature put to death/Coagulating blood and mucus filled lungs/Asphyxiating sin filled breath." I don't know what it is about these lyrics, maybe the original, yet morbid way, they describe sinful actions, or something entirely different, but I love them.Some of the most powerful lyrics come in the song "They Hate You": "They hate you/they hate you/but they hated Me before/I called you out to be my child/and that is why they will turn their backs on you!" To me, it signifies Christ acknowledging that it's not always easy being His follower, but He knows what we're going through. He knows people will hate us for our views, because they hated Him before, and He's been there before us.

      Overall: Grave Robber's Exhumed is a solid horror-punk album in a world where punk isn't exactly prominent in anymore. The music isn't super original, but still exemplifies the classic sound the band is aiming for. The vocals are smooth, and virtually flawless. The lyrics are brilliant and gnarly at the same time. A creepy, but cool version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is included on here, which is one of my favorite tracks. Exhumed is an album that could grab some attention for Grave Robber, and is a solid debut for Rottweiler Records as well. I'd personally love to see a new punk movement centered around bands like Grave Robber, bands that get what punk is really all about.

      Rating: 7.5/10

      Recommended Tracks: "Army of the Dead," "Altered States," "Fill This Place with Blood," and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

      Reviewed by Michael Small

      Tracklisting:
      1. Army of the Dead
      2. They Hate You
      3. Altered States
      4. Fill This Place with Blood
      5. Lion of Judah
      6. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
      7. Reanimator (Demo)
      8. Bloodbath (Demo)
      9. I Wanna Kill You Over and Over Again (Demo)
      10. Screams of the Voiceless (Demo)
      11. I, Zombie (Demo)
      (Buy Here)

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      The Death Of Greeley Estates

      Artist: Greeley Estates
      Album: The Death of Greeley Estates
      Release Date: August 9, 2011
      Label: Tragic Hero Records

      It's only been 19 months since we've last heard from Greeley Estates, but it feels much longer than that. During this last year and a half, the band has only had one member change; Alex Torres left the band, David Ludlow moved from bass to guitars, and the band has a new bassist in Kyle Koelsch. It's hard to say what Kyle brings to the table so far, but he definitely fits with the band. The other thing Greeley Estates has done in this time is grow. The Death of Greeley Estates was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

      The album opens with the track "Straitjacket," and the first thing I noticed is that the band has grown tighter, not just personally, but musically. The music doesn't sound as thrown together as it has on previous albums. The Death of Greeley Estates is another example of the band moving further away from their emo days, early in their career, and progressing even further into the metalcore sound they gravitated towards three years ago. However, you can still hear some of their emo influences coming out on this album, especially on the track "Bodies." The song's clean vocals and the style of music totally have an emo vibe to them, until it kicks into a more metalcore sound with the screaming vocals. The mix is unique, and meshes very well within the same song. Another thing I noticed on this album is that there's a little more obvious synthesizer work, like on the song "Friendly Neighborhood Visit." I cannot say enough about how much their music has grown on this album, and how much better it sounds than I originally expected.

      Lead vocalist Ryan Zimmerman (one of two original members left) has gotten progressively better with each album over the last seven years. His voice sounds the same, although he's added some deeper screams this time around, from what I remember from previous releases, and the sound is just smoother, as is the recording quality.Overall, the vocals sound a lot like they did on the two previous releases, which is not a bad thing. There's also some use of choir type vocals on a couple of songs, and there are still quite a bit of clean vocals, but they all sound so organic together.

      The lyrics of this album are clearly very personal, and though out for the band. Some songs have more simplistic lyrics, while others have more spiritually complex lyrics, and there are even some violent lyrics... but in a good way. One lyrical piece in particular that spoke to me was the song "Friendly Neighborhood Visit"; "You don't know how beautiful you are/but if he hits you again/I'll bleed him out from head to toe," a very literal take on stopping domestic violence and abuse. They don't sugar coat it at all, it's right there in your face, which is the way it should be. I also love the lyrics in "The Last Dance"; "Last chance to set into motion/last chance to fill in the blank page... before it's over." They're a little simpler than the previous excerpt, but have a good message. We all want to make each moment important like it could be the last, without looking back and losing the chance to make another memory.

      Overall: The Death of Greeley Estates is a very tight and great sounding album from the band. The music is put together well, with a clean sound, and the vocals are some of the best that Ryan Zimmerman has done, along with his lyrics. I honestly think with good word-of-mouth, this is the album that could take Greeley Estates from early Warped Tour performer, to a headlining act. The album takes the vibe from previous material, and builds on it, making it even better and stronger. One downfall of the album however, is the use of interludes, as there are two of them, which kind of stop the album's flow. Hopefully, the album's title is a play on words, and this is not the death of Greeley Estates, but instead the launching point for the band's career that is much overdue.

      Rating: 8/10

      Recommended Tracks: "Straitjacket," "Friendly Neighborhood Visit," "A Thousand Burning Forests," and "Leave The Light On"

      Reviewed by Michael Small

      Tracklisting:

      1. Straitjacket
      2. The Last Dance
      3. Friendly Neighborhood Visit
      4. Bodies
      5. The Medic
      6. A Thousand Burning Forests
      7. Broken (Interlude)
      8. Leave The Light On
      9. Circle The Wagons
      10. The Reaction
      11. Tonight
      12. The Postman
      13. Mouth To Mouth
      14. Repaired (Interlude)
      15. December
      (Buy Here)

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