Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

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


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Artist: xLooking Forwardx
Album: Down With the Ship
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Label: Facedown Records

It's been seven long years since one of the original straight-edge hardcore bands in the Christian market made their last album. Now, xLooking Forwardx is back with one final EP appropriately entitled Down With the Ship. The EP is relatively short clocking in at 11:30, but that's what hardcore music was and is about. Keep it short and to the point.

The band shows why they were one of the original hardcore bands in the Christian market, as well as showing that they are still one of the best. The music is so aggressive, tight, and downright flawless for a hardcore album. The 11 minutes go by way too fast, you're just getting pumped with the adrenalin rush of music and it's over. From the first note of the intro of Down With the Ship the band goes off on a blitzkrieg of a lesson of what hardcore music was, is, and should be. The guitars chug right along from song to song without missing a beat and make all six songs as well as the intro and outro tracks flow into one big mosh pit for your ears. The drumming keeps right up with the velocity of the guitars, and keeps the beat nice and tight and cohesive throughout Down With the Ship. There is not a moment on this release where the music gets repetitive or boring, it goes full steam ahead and won't be stopped until it's run it's course.

Justin's vocals are the epitome of what  hardcore vocals should be. Just raw, emotional yelling. If you love hardcore music, and the vocal styling of the genre's bands then you will love Down With the Ship. This album also has the customary gang vocals in a couple of the songs, as in the title track "Down With the Ship" where the band says "We're gonna go/Down with the ship/Down in flames/Down with the ship/Down in flames!" One of my favorite vocals comes from the same song where Justin says "Maybe if we would have gone more melodic/Record sales would be less sporadic/Maybe if we would have gone more commercial/The path we tread wouldn't have led to Jason Dunn's attic." also he says "Now that we're at the end of a line/I only wish I'd said more." xLooking Forwardx have never been afraid to express their faith in their music, and they show that it wasn't about the records sales or the popularity, it was about putting a message of Christ's love for us into every song and doing so in the form of one of the most passionate genre's of music out there.

Overall: It's good to see the band come back and make one more release, and if Down With the Ship is truly the final release for the band, it only shows the respect and dedication they talk about on this album is absolutely what this band has always been about. Also, if the band is done after this, my only wish is the album would have been longer because it is going to be a long time before you hear such a fundamental and well executed hardcore album as this. Ironically, the name of the first release by the band was Ahoy, Crew Members in 2002. This album cover shows a ship setting sail, this is the same ship going down in flames on Down With the Ship. I find it very cool that the band incorporated their first release into what will most likely be their last release. It shows that xLooking Forwardx has never lost their identity and that they never will. If you're looking for the best hardcore album of 2012 look no further than Down With the Ship, you'll also get one of the best releases of 2012 in general. The EP may be short, but every second counts and means something, and that is something rare in music today. Granted, it was only 11:34.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: Michael Small

1. Intro
2. The Fast and the Spurious
3.Down With the Ship
4. Here I Am
5. Getting Back With Your 'X'
6. Put Up or Shut Up
7. Demanding Answers
8. Outro

(Buy here)

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