If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Top Ten Christian Rock Albums of 2010

10. Disambiguation – Underoath
Rating - 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – In Division, Catch Myself Catching Myself, A Divine Eradication

This is the first album without original drummer and vocalist Aaron Gillespie. Taking his place is former Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison. On this album, vocalist Spencer Chamberlain not only performs the screams but the clean vocals as well. With the member changes, Underoath offers a much different album than some of their previous works. Musically, this band is top notch. They always seem to have an organized chaos to their music. The downfall to this album is the vocals. Spencer Chamberlain is a phenomenal screaming vocalist. Sadly, though, he does not have the power to carry the band with clean vocals. In the top tracks, Chamberlain does a pretty good job on vocals, but Underoath is not the same without Gillespie.

9. Kill The Noise – The Savvy
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Real Good Feelin, Fame, That’s My Jam

Number nine is Kill the Noise by the band The Savvy. This entire rock record features in your face lyrics, rocking guitars, and pounding drums. Though this record only features five songs, each one is carefully crafted to give the listener a full rock and roll experience. This young indie band knows how to put together a great album. The only downside to this album is the length, less than twenty minutes, but The Savvy makes up for it by offering five amazing songs. If this had been a full length album, Kill the Noise would easily be in the top five.

8. Suburba – House of Heroes
Rating - 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – God Save the Foolish Kings, Independence Day for A Petty Thief, Constant

After releasing a full length album and three EPs last year, House of Heroes is at it again with their fourth full length album. Like their past albums, the band finds creative ways to sing about their faith with witty lyrics, fun songs, gang vocals, and fast guitars. What makes this album such a fun listen is definitely the lyrics. From finding God after a gang fight to a pure worship song, this album has it all lyrically. Suburba is not as groundbreaking as their last album, The End is Not The End, but overall this album is definitely worth the money.

7. Everything is Different Now – Stellar Kart
Rating - 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – We Shine, Something Holy, Rescue

Everything is Different Now is a mix between a cover album and a worship album. Every song on this album is a true worship song, plus the album offers four cover songs (We Shine, Spirit In The Sky, You Never Let Go, and Until My Heart Caves In). There were many rumors about Stellar Kart doing a cover of Yellowcard’s song Only One, but that track did not make it on the album. Overall, this is a very solid album from Stellar Kart. The major downside is so many cover songs. I would have enjoyed more original songs on this album. But, all in all, this is a very solid album from the band.

6. Our Graceful Words – Sent By Ravens
Rating – 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – Trailers vs. Tornadoes, Salt and the Light, This Awakening

This debut album from the newly signed Tooth and Nail band blew me away. This hard rock group packs a hard punch. From the first screams on the song New Fire to the moving ballad Salt and the Light, this album has it all: blazing guitars, passionate vocals, and moving lyrics. Even though they are a relatively new and young band, this album has all the fixings of a seasoned music veteran.

5. Rain’s A Comin’ – Children 18:3
Rating - 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Cover Your Eyes, The Cruel One, Stronger

In 2008 the Christian music world was blown away by Children 18:3’s debut album. After two years of speculation about a sophomore album, Children 18:3 returned with Rain’s A Comin’. In reviewing their first album, I gave them five stars. Even though Rain’s A Comin’ is not as good as their debut, this is far from a sophomore slump. The first three tracks mirror their debut album with their hardcore punk rock sound. But the main difference between their first two albums is the lyrics. The title track screams about the coming of change in this world, The Cruel One pays homage to One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Oh Bravo features a dad consoling his daughter after a talent competition, Wonder I features the band thinking about heaven, and Lost So Long ends the album in a phenomenal way. The only downside to this album is the use of instrumental tracks. There are two instrumental tracks, and both of them feel really out of place, especially the last song The Last Laugh. With that small complaint aside, Children 18:3 proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Christian music scene.

4. Write this Down – Write this Down
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Alarm the Alarm, Despite Your Valor, Redemption, We Shot the Moon

This album took me completely by surprise. Both the mixing of vocals between screaming and singing and the instrumental work are phenomenal. Besides vocals and instruments, this band really separates themselves from other Christian groups due to the diversity of this album. Literally, there is something for every fan of rock music. The band features a variety of songs from the genres screamo, alternative rock, acoustic, and even some punk mixed in. Plus, a lot of these songs will get stuck in your head even after only one listen. Alarm the Alarm and We Shot the Moon will have you singing for days. This is definitely the surprise album of the year.

3. The Chase – Manafest
Rating - 4 Stars
Top Tracks – No Plan B, Avalanche, Renegade, Fire in the Kitchen

This is another surprise album. Manafest has put out five rap albums since 2001. Some of his songs have dabbled in rap rock music (Impossible and So Beautiful), but this album takes it to another level. A major part of this album is the use of guest vocalists. Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch and FM Static lends his vocals and hard rock style for three songs, and Dustin Anstey is featured on two songs. These guest vocalists help add even more rock elements to The Chase. The amazing aspect of this album is the fusion between rap vocals with edgy rock music. The result of this fusion is a head-banging glory fest of rock anthems.

2. Hanging On By A Thread – The Letter Black
Rating – 4 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – Hanging On By A Thread, Believe, There’ll Come A Day, Best of Me

The Letter Black, formerly Breaking the Silence, signed with Tooth and Nail records last year. After releasing a debut EP, this debut full length album finds the band coming into their comfort zone. A fusion between Skillet and Evanescence, The Letter Black offers a hard rock album mixed with dual vocals between Sarah and Mark Anthony, as well as driving rock and roll melodies. The definite highlight of this album is Sarah Anthony’s vocals. Throughout the album, her vocals are very polished and crisp, yet she has enough vocal ability to pull off hardcore screams. Soaring vocals mixed with hard rock melodies make this a great album.

1. Horseshoes and Handgrenades – Disciple
Rating – 5 Stars
Top Tracks – Dear X You Don’t Own Me, Eternity, Deafening, Worth the Pain

I have only given five stars to three previous albums: Dear Diary by FM Static, Children 18:3, and Comatose by Skillet. This one definitely needs to be added to the list of five star albums. I bought this album with the special preorder deal that Disciple was promoting on their website. With this deal, you receive some special merchandise, an immediate digital download of Horseshoes and Handgrenades, as well as seven bonus tracks not featured on the album. First, you know you have a great album on your hands when even the songs not featured on the record are great. When really good songs are not on an album, you know the album has to be spectacular. Second, each song is carefully crafted lyrically, vocally, and musically to offer to the listener emotion, faith, and passion. Disciple has always been a band very open about their faith, and this album is no exception. Eternity, a song about the glorious moment when we go to heaven, is a very powerful and emotional song. Dear X is one of the most intense songs ever recorded by the band. Finally, Worth the Pain wraps up the album in an inspiring manner. This song urges the listener to persevere through hard times because they will be better for it in the end. Overall, this album will blow you away. If you only purchase one album of 2010, this is the one to buy.

I hope you have enjoyed my look at the Top Ten Christian Rock Albums of the year. This list would not be complete without honorable mentions. These albums were very solid but ultimately did not make it into the top ten.

For Those Who Wait – Fireflight
Dark is the Way, Light is a Place – Anberlin
Smoke and Mirrors - Lifehouse

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rock and Roll Christmas Part 2

If you would like to check out Rock and Roll Christmas Part 1, you can check it out here.

For this post, I want to once again share Christian rock Christmas music with you. To see part 1, which includes Christmas music from Relient K, Sent By Ravens, FM Static, and more, click here.

First, is the song Mary Did You Know by Kutless. This popular Christmas song was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene. This version by Kutless was released on X Christmas. This powerful song is told from Mary’s point of view. The song asks if Mary truly knows the importance of Jesus’ birth.

Next, is the famous Christmas carol, Silent Night, by House of Heroes. This song was released on their Christmas Classics EP. In this video, House of Heroes deviates from their usual alternative rock style, and presents an intimate, acoustic version of this beloved classic. Vocally, this band really shows off their unique talents in that every band member sings in this song, not just the lead vocalist.

Third, we are now going to turn our attention to some Christmas metal music. For several years, August Burns Red has been a staple in the Christian metal scene. In this video, the band presents a metal version of Carol of the Bells. Unlike their other songs, this Christmas classic does not feature screaming vocals. The band presents to us a metal instrumental version of Carol of the Bells.

The final song takes a different spin on Christmas music. This song is actually a love song by the band Capital Lights. His Favorite Christmas Story is about a young man who falls in love with a girl while dancing on Christmas Eve. After that night, the couple does not meet again until fate brings them back together one last time.

I hope you have enjoyed these two looks at Christian rock Christmas music.