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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Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "Legacy"/"That I May Love You"

Day 12: "Legacy"

Explanation: The name “Legacy” was given because of the song it was taken from and who wrote it. The title is a tribute to Glenn Gizzi, one of our old guitar players who wrote this epic clean guitar piece in “Lessons Never Learned” which was one of the first songs written by Phinehas.

"That I May Love You"

Explanation: “That I May Love You,” was also written by Glenn. It is originally in an older Phinehas song called “True Love.” The reason why I named it “That I May Love You” is because of the correlation with the old song’s lyrics. The line goes “that I may love You as You have loved me.” It’s a prayer: that we may love Christ as He loves us. Also, if you have a physical copy of our album, then the lyric booklet connects this title to the “The Rider’s” lyrics. The last line of the album then becomes, “Your will be done, that I may love You.”
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "thegodmachine: The Rider"

Day 11: "thegodmachine: The Rider"

Lyrics: "Trapped in the trenches/overrun by idols/we’ve strapped pride to our bones and sealed it with our skin/looking for a way to beat this system/we’re trading life for a corpse/entangled with the dead and silenced by our guilt/we’ve strapped pride to our bones and sealed it with our skin/i’ve encased myself in a tomb/with gods as dead as me/surrounded by stones of depravity/i’m already dead/and i’m running out of answers out running all the answers/we want more/every failure leaves me deeper in the ground/show me what i’ve become/hanging skulls on my branches/waist below the earth/i was a fool of lust since the day of my birth/oh my love i haven’t let you go/golden skies will divide to receive your soul/oh my son you’ve just begun to grow/but we’ve strapped pride to our bones and sealed it with our skin/turn this tomb to dust/oh my God You never let me go/as lifeless as statues/as fleeting as dust in the air/we’ve robbed your splendor and replaced it with deceit/replaced with ruin/show us what you see/grace come swiftly/oh God give us rest in you/like the waves upon the shore/we can’t hear you in our hearts anymore/grace come swiftly and drag the axe further towards me/the Son of man approaches the hollows/He breaks the guilt in one fell swoop/beheading our treachery/oh God would you bring a burning downpour of Your… blood/i can hear the hordes of ghosts screaming in Your choir/but would Your love make any difference in a graveyard/there’s no running now/His thunder shakes the earth/there will be no trace of betrayal/all creation trembles before You/as You lift Your hand/Your will be done"

Explanation: The final full song on “thegodmachine” is about God’s perfect and just judgment upon our hearts. The concept is that we are a garden but have become rooted in our idols, thus stealing God’s glory and putting it into our fake gods. I’m not just talking about the Old Testament “golden calf.” I’m talking about money, sex, vanity, or anything that you seek validation from or for. We are too prideful to understand the importance of not putting ourselves higher than God. The choruses are sung to us from God’s point of view. In this song he sees us as little saplings that are being strangled by the weeds we’ve surrounded ourselves with. In God’s eyes, we have turned the garden into a tomb/graveyard rather than fulfill the true purpose he has given us. The chorus is about him uprooting us from our devils and redeeming us with life. The ending of “The Rider” is from my perspective as a deformedly growing seed asking for judgment day because I cannot reconcile what I have become when I realize that the creator of the heavens has been pursuing me my entire life and I have denied him. The last couple of lines are more of an image I dreamt of: the entire world watching in fear as God lifts his hand high as if he is preparing to bring it down upon us and wipe earth’s slate clean. This song is one of my favorites off of the album because of the almost apocalyptic theme it hints towards and that no matter how messed up we are, God pursues us to the ends of the earth. I believe that Christ has the power to raise the dead, to break guilt and addiction, and to completely make beautiful what we have destroyed.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "Pendulum"

Day 10: "Pendulum"

Lyrics: "Bright lights are breaking through the sky/dark clouds are pouring from your feet/the seas and valleys all run dry/reach through the sky and capture/my heart a child trembling in sight of his wake/your blood was the bridge between/a new song"

Explanation: “Pendulum” is the reprise of the entire album before the destruction of thegodmachine. It revisits almost every chorus throughout the album and combines them into one single song over a different movement and progression. The songs link somewhat lyrically and I thought it would be perfect to arrange it that way. The bridge of “From One End Of The Sky To The Other” and the chorus of “I Am The Lion” become “Reach through the sky and capture my heart.” It twists the melodies to work together so you can hear the songs in a completely different way, a worship song.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "Grace Disguised By Darkness"

Day 9: "Grace Disguised By Darkness"

Lyrics: "I’ve felt their lives slip through my fingers/now i watch them circle the drain/with breath like the torrent they sink to the bottom/i’ve wasted so many chances/my efforts not a drop in the barrel/with a body like a boulder i sink to the bottom/i’ve shown my teeth and have had them kicked in one too many times/in my yearning He split the rock, and the water gushed forth/a voice keeps yelling, a voice keeps yelling/”this is where your proud waves end”/my fingers trace lines, on the surface i’m consumed/the sinking feeling, the sinking feeling/”this is where your proud waves end”/i take my first step, and i’m thrown over the edge/i tried to walk on the water but now i just swim/where is your mercy/what grace is this that saves me/i scream Your name/are You outside of Your wrath/oh God Your name/amongst the pile of dead/i see a light split the water from the heavens/i feel God glowing inside me/my heart shakes with the music of the spheres/i no longer tremble in fear/for Redemption has found me/and in Redemption comes the overflow of peace"

Explanation: This song is my story of salvation. I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid. When I wrote this song’s lyrics (4 years ago), I was in the middle of going through one of the roughest experiences in my life. I felt that I was destroying the relationships with the people I love, that I was falling further into my own depravity, and I hadn’t felt the presence of God in what seemed like years. I felt that I was in a giant pit that was half full of water, and I was drowning while clawing at the edges to lift myself out.  I was dealing with depression, being exiled and excommunicated from the school I was attending, and was trying to find purpose. I fell far into alcoholism and smoking. All I could feel was that I was drowning and I couldn’t see over the wave towering over me to see if there was just another wave behind it that was going to destroy me or if there was a break. I felt that God had left me to die in this pit that I dug myself and that his mercy was nowhere to be found. Then one of my friends became a Christian. I remember calling my mom and telling her about it. My mom told me that I should tell my friend to read the book of John in the bible because it is the best description of who Jesus is. I told my friend, and then decided to take my mom’s advice and read it for myself. The words felt like they reached out and took hold of my heart and shook my entire existence. The words gave me purpose when I thought I was worthless. “Grace Disguised By Darkness” is about Christ finding me and pulling me out of the pit of depravity I had thrown myself into.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "My Horses Are Many"

Day 8: "My Horses Are Many"

Lyrics: "This is what it’s like to be on fire burning through the coals/what a way to release this fury and be consumed/a false prophet and a terrible liar/trading money for souls/abomination of a broad horizon/you sold them for a frail mansion/it’s nothing but dust/your recompense and tongue will be fed down your throat/oh you’d topple the pillars of a church to make yourself a god/when you speak it’s a dead language/forfeit the grace you never preach/limb for a limb/you’ll be torn to shreds/eye for an eye/you’ll be torn to shreds/throw it down like you never want to see it again/if this is a slippery slope you’re at the bottom of the ditch/take advantage of the children yet you call yourself a man/if this is a slippery slope you’re at the bottom of the ditch/headlong"

Explanation: “My Horses Are Many” is about my experience as a kid when my family moved to Texas and was looking for a church to attend. I have had a lot of awful experiences at church, and this song is about just a handful of them. I remember distinctly going to a huge church when I was 6. In the Sunday school class, I remember seeing every kid at the end of the lesson get up and move in a single file line towards the altar. Kid after kid handed the preschool-pastor money, change, or even a check that their parents had obviously given them. As a little kid, I didn’t really understand what I was seeing until years later, but I remember feeling embarrassed because I had nothing to give and I was getting closer and closer to the end of the line. When it was my turn in front of the preschool pastor, I said “I’m sorry, but you can have my grapes” out of embarrassment, handed him the last of couple of grapes that I had been eating during the lesson, and then started crying when I saw the pastor’s look of disapproval. The line in the song, “take advantage of the children yet you call yourself a man” is NOT about those grapes that I regret giving up (haha), but the embarrassment, the brainwashing, and the peer pressure that churches use. I have nothing against tithing, but making the children in your Sunday school class get in a single file line and make it a habit of giving money at an early age is a bit of a disturbing tactic to me.  This same thing happened at a different church I attended years later, only the entire congregation was in a single file line dropping money into a golden altar in front of the stage. That was after the pastor preached “tithe or you aren’t right with God” for an entire year. Bible belt America’s leaders will have some serious explaining to do on judgment day. Every shepherd will be held accountable for his flock. This song is me reacting honestly to these experiences.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "The Wishing Well"

Day 7: "The Wishing Well"

Lyrics: "A thunderstorm a distant shore, i’ve witnessed this before/patience was fleeting/if a thousand coins on the ocean floor would bring back love to me/i’ll wait forever/fill the sea with dreams of a wishing well/waves bring back my coins to me/drain the deep that teems with my empty shells/slaves of sand still call for me/i once had love to give/i once had hoped to live/the rarest stones will break my bones and golden salt stops my lungs/the perfect limbs and haunting eyes begs the seas: begin to rise/man: and when these delusions come to fruition/believe you me/i will strangle myself into nothingness/and be reborn from the dream of a blasphemous fool/in my sordid pelt of mold/i’ll earn back years to me/the god of a nightmare will fall as I take back what is…/devil: mine!/worthless swine enraptured by my vanity/your soul sank under the weight of gold you offered me/man: a waste of a life, squandered my heart until it rests upon the ocean floor barren/watching the light descend deeper and deeper/a deadening feeling starts to grow in my ribs/from where I lie, the waves overflow, with my blood/devil: from where I hide, the snakes overgrown, with your blood/man: where are my years/I’ll bleed dry by myself/i wish I was someone/devil: you wish you were someone else"

Explanation: “The Wishing Well” is quite different lyrically from every other song on the album. It is the only song on thegodmachine with no redemptive qualities. I wrote the lyrics to this song after watching the movie “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” I remember falling asleep and waking up at the end when the credits are rolling, and there was the darkest piano piece I’ve ever heard playing. It put me in such an odd and dark state of mind. I had never heard a piece so beautiful yet dissatisfied and brooding. It’s called “Going Crazy, Coast to Coast,” and it was written by Alex Wurman. If you can find it anywhere on the internet, give it a listen.

I ended up writing the lyrics and concept of “The Wishing Well” soon after. It is the story of a man flipping coins into the ocean and wishing that he was richer, stronger, better looking, happier, etc… He is completely unsatisfied with himself and what he has been given. The idea is that he regretted being himself to the point of losing his identity. The ending of the song is a conversation between the man and the devil, going back and forth over who is truly in control of the man’s life. It’s the classic idea of “selling your soul to the devil for personal gain.” In this case, it comes with a catch that is too much for the man to handle. With all of these regrets and wishes, the man’s life is torn apart. Even the devil sees him as delusional at the end; the man wishes to be important, rich, famous, and attractive because of the inner hatred for himself after wasting his life, and the devil reminds him, “no, you just want to be someone else, anybody but yourself.”
Interview with Abel at SoulFest 2011

After months of what seems like procrastination, we're happy to finally release our interview with Abel, which took place on the top of Gunstock Mountain at SoulFest this summer (August 4th). The new album discussed in the interview has been completely funded since August, but if you didn't get a chance to donate, Abel are still offering perks with donation for other band finances, and more info can be found at their Facebook page. The new album will be available for free in the spring through Come&Live!, and their album Lesser Men is also available as a free gift here.

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Part 2:

The Old-Timers are working on a new album

The Old-timers to Record New Album

The Old-timers are a punk outfit from South Africa, formed by good friends Dave & Don. Dave is originally from England and moved to South Africa with his wife and kids in late 2009 as full time missionaries, working with the needy and underprivileged in prisons, on the streets, in schools and wherever else God leads them. Don is a native of South Africa and is also married with two kids, and works as a youth pastor for his church as well as running his own pie company. Both have been involved in punk since an early age, playing in bands, promoting and running 'zines in their respective home towns. Most notably Dave played in Dragged Out with former members of The Exploited & Voice Of The Mysterons, and Don has played with a variety of musicians and was involved in multiple organizations and ‘zines who helped promote the anarcho-punk scene in Port Elizabeth in the early 90's.

The Old-timers' recording process is pretty unusual as Dave & Don live twelve hours apart. Further complicating matters is that drumming is handled by Matt Lagusis from False Idle at the Simpul Studios in Boise, Idaho, in the United States. Leveraging modern technology, the Dave & Don put vocals and music together, then forward it over for Matt to add the drum track, then back to South Africa for mixing and mastering.

The purpose of The Old-timers remains what it has always been – to glorify God in every song, to reach a desperate world with the good news of God's grace & love and to have a ton of fun while we're doing it! Musical influences include GBH, Hit The Deck, Minor Threat, Officer Negative, Crass, Headnoise, Conflict, God So Loved The World and many other old school punk and early hardcore bands. Get ready for SOLI DEO GLORIA! coming in February 2012.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "Crowns"

Day 6: "Crowns"

Lyrics: "Draw your depiction/stars become scars in the palm of Your hand bridged by blood/your blood paints the paragon of unrequited love/do you remember pain followed by reassurance and the light shining through/bearing the poise of a Redeemer choking the shadows defeating death/providence: laid out before us/a father’s arms reaching as/the nations will hear a new song/as we’re lead to the water/the nations will hear a new song/as we’re lead to the water/give us discernment/doors that glow at the sound of forerunners’ words/we are empty until you sit at the throne of our hearts/break us free; unshackled from our dire condition/ we have hope/kings of earth bow down lose your crowns/kings of earth bow down lose your crowns/bow/the nations will hear a new song/as we’re lead to the water/the nations will hear a new song…of rebirth"

Explanation: If you have ever seen the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” then you probably remember this scene (a few curse words in this video):

This scene is exactly the visual I had while writing the lyrics to “Crowns.” As childish as Delmar may seem in the video clip, his elation towards being absolved of his sins is beautiful to me. The imagery and symbolism of baptism has always been, in my opinion, one of the most powerful ways to convey salvation and redemption. Plus, the way that all 3 of them appear to be frozen when the congregation passes by while singing “Down To The River To Pray” has always made me wonder, “Are our songs, or is our faith, a good enough reflection of Christ to leave people in awe or at least make them question their own reasons for living?" The only way that is possible is to get rid of our earthly idols or kings, most often ourselves, and do away with our own pride or crowns in order to let Christ sing through us. Baptism symbolizes becoming a new creation, and the new song is sung through us by Christ.
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "From One End of the Sky to the Other"

Day 5: "From One End of the Sky to the Other"

Lyrics: "Part the dark sky that keeps me from Your eyes/even as the darkness descends/my cry came to Your ears/as my heroes fail me/they leave me to fend on my own/my cry came to Your ears/the earth withers beneath me/i’m always looking towards the clouds/i know we are not alone/can’t help but feel You in my bones/when all is dead and gone Your love will still remain/from one end of the sky to the other you burn your banner/cords of the grave, snares of death cannot take me from You/i see the eyes of the empty/they form an eclipse above me/until i find safety in Your memory/safety in Your memory/safety in Your memory/safety in the memory of Your faithfulness/bright lights are breaking through the sky/dark clouds are pouring from Your feet/seas and valleys all run dry/so reach through the sky and capture me/my cry came to Your ears/your love saved no mercy for Yourself"

Explanation: This song is about finding hope amidst a dying world. While nations fight amongst themselves and depravity festers, the only thing that remains constant is Christ's love that spares no expense towards us, even to the point of death. The only solace we can ever expect to find as wars pit people against each other as a result of the human condition, is the promise of faithfulness from God. I wrote these lyrics as a reminder of the day that God will peel back the sky and right all wrongs.
Staff Blog: Mikey's MMXI in Review

2011 was a very good year for music, especially in the metal scene. There were a lot of good things about this year, like Five Iron Frenzy coming back, Blindside returning from the dead, and all of the new young bands that came out with GOOD debuts. As with every year there were the bad things as well, like Haste the Day calling it a day, and Thrice going on hiatus. Looking back I still think 2011 turned out to be a much better year for releases than I anticipated. Here are my top 15 albums of 2011.

1. Emery - We Do What We Want
2. Hands - Give Me Rest
3. Phinehas - thegodmachine
4. A Plea for Purging - The Life and Death of A Plea for Purging
5.Saving Grace - The King is Coming
6. Blindside - With Shivering Hearts We Wait
7. In the Midst of Lions - Shadows
8. Switchfoot - Vice Verses
9. Thrice - Major/Minor
10. August Burns Red - Leveler
11. The Devil Wears Prada - Dead Throne
12. Life in Your Way - Kingdoms
13. A Hope for Home - In Abstraction
14. My Epic - Broken Voice
15. Red - Until We Have Faces

Honorable Mentions:
Memphis May Fire - The Hollow
Grave Robber - You're All Gonna Die

7"'s of the year:
1. A Plea for Purging - Fat Pride
2. Saving Grace/One Choice - Now the Fight Has Two Sides

Albums I'm Looking Forward to in 2012:
Project 86
War of Ages
For Today
Norma Jean
Five Iron Frenzy
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "I Am The Lion"

Day 4: "I Am The Lion"

Lyrics: "Son of Mine, can you hear the sound of this repetition as clockwork?/I'm always peeling back your skin to rip the legions from your heart/every scar you leave yourself is a jewel in the making/I would give new passion yet you've turned your back/like a devil of details cut your throat, you're so addicted/you'll swing the hammer and I'll turn your nails to gold/you will know My voice when the hair on your neck stands up/I opened this door, and I will bring the End/all gives way and all will fall to their knees and beg for grace/son of Mine these letters I swear have not been burnt/my heart a child trembling in sight of his wake/is longing to rest in the hollow of Your hand/I know now what it is to be helpless like a foot on my neck to the ground/I'm longing to rest in the hollow of Your hand/here I am/I await you/you will know My voice/I AM THE LION/clear the path/I am the Lion/you brood of snakes/I am the Lion"

Explanation: There are two perspectives that the lyrics in "I Am The Lion" are being sung from.

The choruses are from my point of view as a helpless and addicted soul. One of the most helpless feelings is being controlled by your addictions knowingly and not being able to overcome them. These vices don't just hurt you; they also create a wake of destruction among those close to you and affect every area of your life. Addiction pulls us away from our true purpose, so consequently we are not completely ourselves when under its spell.

Everything else sung in "I Am The Lion" is from God's point of view, watching us destroy ourselves. It isn't out of cruelty that God allows us to experience these lows. We would not learn or grow if God pulled us out of the depths we create for ourselves without us first experiencing our own true depravity. It isn't the devil who is strong; it is us who are weak when on our own. When we finally realize how weak we are and when we release our grip on the belief that we can fix ourselves, God comes in, rips everything to shreds, and gives us a new heart.
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With 2011 coming to an end, it's hard not to think about how amazing this year has been with music. Though mostly good there were some cases when hearing certain things about the industry made it tough to swallow (i.e. Thrice hiatus). But when you reflect on the good things, most of the time you feel excited about how the next year will top it. Here are my picks for the best of 2011.

Best EP’s 2011
1. Neurology-Worker
2. Opposition- Altars
3. Loss Of Innocence-Jawbone
4. Fear. Anger. Strife-Divide The Sea
5. We Are The Ones-Wolves at the Gate

Top 15 Albums of 2011
1. Separation-Balance and Composure
2. Major/Minor-Thrice
3. Let Go-Hundredth
4. Kingdoms-Life In Your Way
5. Waves-Moving Mountains
6. Costs-Gideon
7. Thegodmachine-Phinehas
8. Broken Voice-My Epic
9. Give Me Rest-Hands
10. Dead Throne-The Devil Wears Prada
11. The Life And Death Of A Plea For Purging-A Plea For Purging
12. Unturned-Ironwill
13. Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me-Touche Amore
14. Empty Days and Sleepless Nights-Defeater
15. Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts-Close Your Eyes

Honorable Mentions:
In Abstraction-A Hope For Home; The King Is Coming-Saving Grace; Shadows-In The Midst of Lions; Under Soil & Dirt-The Story So Far; Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing-The Wonder Years; Divided By-Structures; Wildlife-La Dispute; Simple Math-Manchester Orchestra; Volition-As Hell Retreats; Elsie-The Horrible Crowes
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OWOSSO, MI - December 12, 2011 - sosaveme just announced its Winter 2012 tour with SONS. The two indie rock acts are partnering for a month long run in the Mid to South West states. Says vocalist Nicholas Pidek, "We are excited to start off the year of 2012 with touring and we are honored to be sharing the road with the band SONS. The initial response from our CD release tour of The Garden in Oct/Nov of this year has only fueled our passion to really stretch this new album's preverbal legs." For more info and tour dates visit and You can also follow the tour and all it's crazy happenings on sosaveme's tour blog (

In addition, the tour package is hosting a contest via social media, that will last for the duration of the scheduled dates. To qualify, fans must tag both @sosaveme and @sonsofficial in a Twitter or Facebook post, along with information for the show they plan to attend. ("I'm seeing @sosaveme & sonsofficial in Fort Wayne, IN on 1/7/12"). There is no limit to the number of entries. Five winners will each be given a pair of tickets. Winners will be announced January 6th.

Tour dates are as follows:
January 7 - Fort Wayne, IN  @ Hebrews
January 8 - Sidney, OH @ TBA
January 9 - Columbus, OH @ TBA
January 10 - St. Albans, WV @ TBA
January 11 - Pittsboro, NC @TBA
January 12 - Cary, NC @ Colonial Baptist Church
January 13 - Greenville, SC @ The Channel
January 14 - Jacksonville, FL @ Murray Hill Theater
January 15 - Columbus, GA @ Collision Church
January 16 - Atlanta, GA @ TBA
January 17 - Chattanooga, TN @ The Warehouse
January 19 - Nashville, TN @TBA
January 20 - Evansville, IN @ The Hatch
January 21 - St. Louis, MO @ Melvin Theater

sosaveme is Nicholas Pidek (vocals/guitar), Justin Ozanich (guitar/aux perc), Austin Germain (bass) and Jon Moore (drums). Based in Owosso, Michigan, the four-piece formed in 2006 during high to create inspiring, convicting and passionate music to share with listeners. They’ve performed at high profile events including Big Ticket Festival, Ichthus Festival and Cornerstone. Their 5th release, The Garden, dropped on October 4th, 2011. Logon to for continual updates.

Playing with a poetic message and delivering it with power, SONS creates masterful sounds filled with highs and lows – polarizing swings that mirror the beauty of life’s struggle and redemption. Their explosive The Genesis Prologue EP surpassed 10,000 downloads, and their debut album, due out later this year, was funded completely by pre-orders. Over 7,000 dollars raised purely on anticipation. For more information and to stay updated on the new record, log on to and
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "A Pattern In Pain"

Day 3: "A Pattern In Pain"

Lyrics: "As I charge the bloody fields waiting for your hands to pierce the depths/the world is stirring yet you keep silent to me/this battle shakes the ground, but your voice could split the earth/the world is stirring yet you keep silent to me/eternity will never be long enough with you/when every step I take feels so worn/if heralds of glory sing the minute life begins to fade/then death is just a bridge between us.see the enemy line the hills so hide my fears from me/the world is stirring yet you keep silent to me/like a burning wound it kills me that I haven't heard you in years/the world is stirring yet you keep silent/all I am is a scar-laden body from those years you were gone/now You appear to me/faced with suffering death You restore this porous heart that bleeds every time it beats/Your suture lives in me/there must be something You wished me to see, a pattern in this pain/I see a pattern, I see You in this pain/I've waited for years what what a brush with death has shown me/I will trust in Your grace that speaks of the end/as my life begins to fade I know Your blood was the bridge, the bridge between us/Your blood was the bridge between us"

Explanation: "A Pattern In Pain" is sung from the perspective of a worn down and weary warrior in the midst of a battle. Longing for peace in his soul, he hasn't felt the presence of God since he can remember. When death shows its face to him, he is rescued and restored by Christ's blood. We all go through spiritual droughts and doubts throughout our lives. It's so easy to forget the grace we were given and take for granted the blessings we receive everyday when things don't go our way. Specifically, this song is about our impatience and arrogance towards God's sovereign timing. Being in Phinehas for five years, this band has been a constant reminder of God's faithfulness. We have gone through so many highs and so many hurtful lows, but God has always come through when we were least expecting it and in ways we could never have fathomed. This song is about that shimmer of hope and that rain drop of joy that arrives just moments before giving up. No matter how brutalized, bloodied, or broken we are, we always have the promise of salvation that was forged by Christ's blood on the cross and that is further reinforced by the promise of His spirit's presence.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. - John 14:18 (NIV)
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "Bad Blood"

Day 2: "Bad Blood"

Lyrics: "Grieve that your body's so worm eaten inside/crawling with infection/fed by your lies/drop into your put you dug with your pride/now you're nothing but a slave/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/purge the demons/draining your veins/pride in your heart deceives you/dragged from the depths of a dying world/purge the demons draining your veins/pride in your heart deceives you/keep your teeth before your tongue/or you'll claw for divinity/your filthy rags: a disgusting crown/the offspring of an unhealed wound/you wear your skin like a scoured corpse/after you heave you return like a dog/you had love but your heart is not your own/grace is not beyond you but you walked away/the heavens will expose you.../hell bent on destruction/hell bent on escape/show us there's nowhere to hide/show us fear"

Explanation: The first full song on thegodmachine, "Bad Blood," is a very personal song to me (Sean), because I tend to struggle with bitterness and malice towards people who have hurt my family or friends. Straight up, I was dealing with a lot more anger than I'd like to admit when I wrote the lyrics. The lyrics might be a bit harsh and disgusting, but they were my honest reaction after someone deeply wounded my family. I won't go into too much detail, but the sickest part of the situation was the ruthlessly selfish manor in which he defended his actions. This song is me praying to God for a wake up call to those who refuse to be held accountable for their actions. At the same time that I am angry for my family, I can't help but love the person who hurt them. "Bad Blood" humbles me every time we play it live because it reminds me that I am just as capable of causing pain to other people as anyone. If I can't let go of my own anger and hatred that has sparked from that situation, then I am no better than the man who hurt my family.
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2011 was a great year for music, and looking back, and amazed at the amount of good releases that debuted this year, among numerous other big moments such as bands reuniting, breaking up, and everything in between. Kickstarter has become an amazing way for bands to create new art, and has even brought Five Iron Frenzy back from the dead, eight years after playing their final show in '03.

Below are my personal favorite albums for the year, along with some anticipated albums for 2012. Thanks for the great support of CRR this year, and I'm looking forward to another great year!
- Brooks Ginnan, Christian Rock Rocks founder and writer

Top Albums of 2011:
  1. Thrice- Major/Minor
  2. Emery - We Do What We Want
  3. My Epic - Broken Voice
  4. Switchfoot - Vice Verses
  5. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
  6. Abandon Kansas - Ad Astra Per Aspera
  7. Great Awakening - Songs in Secret
  8. The Ember Days - Emergency
  9. Eisley - The Valley
  10. Moving Mountains - Waves
Cool Hand Luke's final album, Of Man, Owl City's All Things Bright and Beautiful, and La Dispute's Wildlife were a few additional albums that narrowly missed my top 10.

Top Heavy Albums of 2011:
  1. Hands - Give Me Rest
  2. Life In Your Way - Kingdoms
  3. A Plea For Purging - The Life and Death of A Plea For Purging
  4. Phinehas - thegodmachine
  5. Hundredth -  Let Go
  6. Oh, Sleeper - Children of Fire
  7. As Hell Retreats - Volition
  8. August Burns Red - Leveler
  9. A Hope for Home - In Abstraction
  10. Sleeping Giant - Kingdom Days In An Evil Age

Onward to Olympas, Gideon, and Not One Is Upright also all released very solid albums that just missed the list as well.

Favorite EPs (No particular order):

  • Jake Germany - Leftover
  • Friends - Better Off Alone
  • Sleep For Sleepers - Conditions
  • Levi The Poet - Monologues
  • Aaron Newberry - Homewrecker
  • Ocean Is Theory - Future Fears

Favorite New Artists: 
  • sosaveme
  • Kye Kye
  • Listener
  • Sinai Vessel

Most Anticipated Albums of 2012:
  • Showbread
  • The Classic Crime
  • Emery (potential new album, along with acoustic side project)
  • Sons
  • To Speak of Wolves
  • From Indian Lakes
  • Ocean Is Theory
Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas: "The Speaking Stone"

CRR are excited to bring you a special feature for the month of December; Phinehas' 12 Days of Christmas! For the next 12 days, we will be posting a song, lyrics, and an explanation from the band. Phinehas' new album, thegodmachine, is out now on Red Cord Records.

Day 1: "thegodmachine: The Speaking Stone"

Lyrics: "Trembling in the shadow of your creation/your knees grow weak/watch my eyes beam with gold and you'll keep coming back/if you fixate your desire upon me you'll give me breath with your lungs/feed me living!/I am what you fashioned/your praise gives me power/with it I will devour you"

Explanation: "This song is the preface of the entire album and the lyrics are from the point of view of an idol, or "speaking stone." While obviously idols are dead, so often we feel the need to pour our trust, lives, and time into things that are lifeless and have no true worth. The more we put into our "speaking stone," the more it consumes our lives, and our capacity to love God. We breathe life into it, but, unlike Christ, our idols suck the life out of us.

Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood, "Come to life!" Or to lifeless stone, "Wake up!" Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it. The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. - Habakkuk 2:18-20 (NIV)
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Ascend The Hill are currently running a Kickstarter to fund their upcoming album, which will be releasing next spring as a 100% free gift through Come&Live!. They have only 10 days left to raise about $10,000, and need all the prayer and financial support they can get. If you are interested in helping fund this album, you can visit this link or check out the widget below. Also, if you haven't already, you can download Ascend The Hill's self-titled album, along with their collection of hymns, Take The World, But Give Me Jesus, from Come&Live! right here.

In the Midst of Lions - Shadows

Artist: In the Midst of Lions
Album: Shadows
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Label: Facedown Records

Shadows, is a fitting name for In the Midst of Lions' third album, because on this album they are ready to come out of the shadows and into the forefront of the Christian metal scene. Shadows is the band's third album in as many years. Where the band finds time to write/record between tours is a mystery to me, but not only do the find the time to make new music, they also find a way to keep getting better.

Musically, I expected the same kind of generic deathcore style that the band had on the last album, but this albums delivers a much more technical and polished sound. It was more original than anything I've heard from In the Midst of Lion before, and definitely had me excited about the album after the first track. One thing that really jumped out to me was the wicked drumming skills of Alex Livingston. The drums are pretty prominent on this album, and may be some of the best drum work I have heard in all of 2011. The guitar playing is sick, and like I said more technical, and much tighter than I've heard before from the band. Some of the songs took on more of a straight-forward metalcore sound, but they didn't sound like they were from the cookie cutter. There's some cool use of some atmospheric background noises, most notably in "False Idols", which is also one of the standout tracks from Shadows. The band has grown so much as musician in these three short years, and this album shows that growth 100%.

Vocally, Matt delivers some amazing vocal patterns, and one thing I love is he enunciates his lyrics and you can actually understand what he is saying, which is rare in the deathcore scene in my opinion. His screams are deep, and guttural growls which fit the music perfectly, and he tosses in some of the more traditional higher screams as well, like on "Cry of the Oppressed", and it shows his vocal range so well. Lyrically, the band has produced some of their best work. The song "Overcome" is lyrically the best song on Shadows with lines like: "Give me strength/Remove this doubt from my mind/I have built these walls of
weakness/Remove this doubt from my mind/Break down these walls!/Break down these
walls and leave nothing behind." the song is about being ashamed of oneself, and God saying I still love you and don't be ashamed we all have bad times, "erase all doubt" and know that I will always be here for you. That is truly powerful and shows just how deeply our God loves us. This album is full of passionate, inspirational, and original lyrics.

Overall: Shadows is by far the best album In the Midst of Lions has released, and shows such great growth from the band in their short existence. The album is absolutely the best I've heard in the deathcore/death metal scene this year, and is easily in contention for the best album of 2011. Their record label has a void to fill with the departure of For Today, and In the Midst of Lions could very well be the band to fill that void. On Shadows, the band shows that there are sick of being in the background and are ready to take the "mainstream" metal scene by storm and show they are a force to be reckoned with. If Shadows is a sign of where this band is going and what we can come to expect from them there will be several excited metalhead, myself included. The only bad thing I can say about this album is that it's only ten tracks and leaves you craving for more from In the Midst of Lions.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: "False Idols", "Overcome", "Cry of the Oppressed", and "New Beginnings"

Reviewed by: Michael Small

1. False Idols
2. The Call
3. Take Your Place
4. Overcome
5. Cry of the Oppressed
6. New Beginnings
7. An Offering
8. Hardened Hearts
9. Prepare the Way
10. One for All