Sound — 7
So, before we have a big argument below about Christianity and what it really means to one another, I would like to proceed with, "Can we all just get along?" Granted, these guys are very strong towards their beliefs, but by no means they're shoving their opinions down anyone's throat or are telling you to believe in God, and whatnot. Hell, I was born a Protestant and am now Buddhist and I still respect these guys. It's all about the music. Whether your a diehard Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, or just Apathetic towards religion, then you should still come to respect these guys. Now, I know this is just an EP, but I think it really showed where these guys are leaning towards next. Ryan shines much more on this, jumping into powerful, meaningful choruses, while Mattie is still by his side and takes control the second after he sings what's on his mind. I think this approach worked much better than what we heard from these guys in the past, but again, this is just a taste of what's to come. As for the rest of the crew, I think they took a slight step backwards after losing David Morrison on drums and Mike Reynolds on rhythm guitar. But again, you can barely tell the difference on this. I think the 2 new members are still very talented musicians.
Lyrics — 8
With the opening track, "From Zion", I think this definitely was a great start. Some lines Mattie wrote in this seemed as though he engraved them into my head. And in a good way he's doing this. His message is very powerful and heard. "This is war. Our history has led us here. Creation sings in celebration. This is war. This mystery's beheld us here. He is the voice of liberation. Now is the age of redemption. Prophesied by generations past, a redeemer for captive Israel. Our Messiah has been sent at last, to take the throne and shut the gates of hell." After this verse, hook, and prechorus, Ryan steps in with true confidence. "We fight for justice; the war has just begun. Our King has come now. Now I see freedom - I see it rising up, Like that star after sundown." And back to Mattie. "Rise up. Never again do we fight alone. The promised One has come to set His people free. From the ashes came our greatest victory. This mystery has been revealed to the discerning: The Lamb was slain; the Blood was shed; let death pass over us. The sacrifice was made for sinners, undeserving. Now we stand set apart to storm, the gates of hell." Starting on "This mystery...", I feel as though Mattie gets into almost a black metal-type of growl. And as crazy as that sounds... that's what I heard, and it definitely was pretty damn epic sounding to me to say the least. In "Crown Of Thorns", Mattie again gets vocally powerful. With these lines, "Beaten and broken down why would he live like a servant King of Kings They said there's no way down Why should he die like a slave". "The throne will be above, the meek will inherit the earth The less will be first to inherit the earth I know down is the way up so master show me how to serve." It's as though he's trying to make you wonder. Why did God die a slave? I also did the next 3 lines separate because one line it's Ryan singing a powerful lyric, then gang vocals on the line after, and back to Ryan again, which I thought was a cool way to do this. The rest of Mattie's lines really got me thinking. "It should have been me With the nails through my hands and feet Facing the wrath of God It should have been me Left to pay for my sin forsaken But in the blood I stand It should have been me Born to die Before the fire of God's holy wrath on his shoulders Born to die I watched Him pour out his life as he wakes up for us Man actually carried His cross on his back Beaten and bloody and I saw myself there too Cause I've been broken by a world that hates me But I'm not alone anymore (alone no more) No one can take His life; He laid it down for me That twisted wreath of thorns, yeah He took that crown for me Then after three days pound up for ground for me He overcame it all Now I live to serve Him With stripes on his back Betrayed by the ones he loves so perfectly We spit in his face and we crowned Him We crown Him with a crown of thorns [x4]". Now, to pick this apart one by one I was thinking to myself, "Is Mattie saying this for himself, or for someone else? Who is he referring to?" For the listeners who don't know much about Christianity, I think he was trying to make himself look like he was in the shoes of Jesus. And I like how he does this. You can almost imagine yourself being there. Hearing Mattie echoing his words out of emotion telling himself he wished it was him laying on that cross. From "Man... Then after three days pound up for ground for me", those lines gave lines of imagery. Almost as though Mattie is giving you the impression to look back in the past with the way he's speaking now, and how you can almost imagine yourself there. Then all comes back with the next line with gang vocals, then back to Mattie's regular vocals. This song clearly was my favorite from the album. The story, the raw emotion, the powerful lyrics, singing and gang vocals, backed up with some a tune from the other members, really did this for me. The next track, I wasn't overly impressed about. At least for Ryan. The song almost seemed like a duet. Although, I still thought he delivered well. Standout lines from Mattie I thought: "So let me die. And let the saints rise. With hands like mine, He turned water to wine. Let me die. And let the saints rise. With hands like mine, He gave sight to the blind And He opened up my eyes". My 2nd favorite would have to be the 4th track, titled, "Open Heaven". "With eyes that burn like fire, I found hope for hopeless men. I see heaven open wide, So let hope arise again. With eyes that burn like fire, I found hope for hopeless men. I see heaven open wide, So let hope arise again." These lines from Ryan's deliverance definitely put him on the spot as someone very comparable to other metalcore bands. Hell, I think he's getting to be just as good, if not better than Josh Gilbert of As I Lay Dying. As for Mattie, I think he really shined and put this track on a whole new level during the last verse. "I walk the narrow road, And follow the One that can set me free. I never have to walk alone. This is my destiny. I've found something worth dying for". As, I was listening, I thought about how powerful the message was. It's something to look forward to every day. And you don't have to believe him, but you can most certainly put it in your own perspective. For me, the Buddha is what is keeping me alive, and working every single day.
Overall Impression — 7
I didn't quite have enough to say about the acoustic version of "Fearless", but to wrap that up, I must say Mattie does have a great voice. I wish I could hear more stuff like that from him, or even acoustic stuff. The thing with this EP is that, while there are many high points to it, I also think there are many low points. And that is not a bad thing, while there is room for improvement, they still have time till this next album hits stores. It almost made me think how it's surprising that they're not that Facedown Records band that they once were, and I found out about them from their debut on Razor & Tie, and now it looks like they're getting a lot more attention. I think the next move is that they go to Solid State. Anyways, I did not find much to compare these guys to, unless you're an avid metalcore fan like me, I enjoy other bands, Christian, or not Christian. On that note, I don't want to see any fighting going on down below from any Atheists, or ignorant Christians this time around. They are very nice guys. I have met them before, so don't take their words the wrong way, as I know this band is not for everyone. But still respect them.