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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top Anticipated Albums for 2015

2014 has come and gone.  Now, it’s time to take a look at another year of music.  This post features my top anticipated projects for 2015.  First, I go through my top ten confirmed releases for next year.  I have also included various websites and links for those of you who are looking for more information.  Then, second, I also list some of the groups who are rumored to be releasing new music.

Confirmed Albums:

10.  Mat Kearney – Just Kids (February 24, 2015)

9.  Decyfer Down – TBA

8.  Falling Up – TBA

7.  Aaron Gillespie – Grace Through the Wandering (February 3, 2015) 

6.  Fireflight – INNOVA (May 5, 2015) 

5.  Pillar – One Love Revolution 

4.  House of Heroes – TBA 

3.  Haste the Day – TBA

2.  Red – Of Beauty and Rage (February 24, 2015) 

1.  Children 18:3 – TBA

For this second group of artists, none of them have confirmed upcoming albums or sent out any official press releases.  Instead, this list features various groups who have either been promising a new record for a while or they have issued a few, cryptic posts about the possibility of new music. 

9.  Since October

8.  Veridia 

6.  Emery 

5.  Ashes Remain 

4.  The Letter Black 

3.  Stellar Kart 

2.  Lacey Sturm 

1.  Write this Down

Overall, these two lists feature the main albums that I cannot wait to buy in 2015.  Right now, it is shaping up to be another great year in Christian rock.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top Christian Rock Songs of 2014

If you missed my previous post on my top ten albums of the year, you can check it out here.  Below, I have featured my favorite songs that were released in 2014.

10.  More of You – Matty Mullins

After enjoying a large amount of success with Memphis May Fire, lead vocalist, Matty Mullins, decided to branch out into solo territory.  Earlier this year, Mullins released his self-titled debut album, which featured a string of pop worship anthems.  “More of You” is by far the strongest song on the record, as Mullins boldly declares his allegiance to the one, true Lord.

9.  Molotov – For Today

A rock and roll onslaught, “Molotov” is all about ridding your life of sinful deceptions.  The members of For Today use the violent imagery of riots, burning structures, and sending things back to hell, in order to show the radical nature of standing up for Christ and fleeing from the temptations of this world.

8.  BZRK – Family Force 5

Being filled with everything from hip hop beats to electronic rhythms, this song requires the listener to turn up the volume and blast the speakers away.  “BZRK” is a frenzied, loud, and wildly entertaining ride.

7.  Hearing Voices – Anberlin

Within “Hearing Voices,” Stephen Christian openly sings about his personal faith in the Lord.  As he says, “This song is about…the humbling experience that a God powerful enough to create the universe still has time to communicate to me through others, his Word, and (for me) signs & wonders.”

6.  No Ordinary Love – Memphis May Fire

This is by far my favorite song on the new Memphis May Fire record.  Told as a modern day story of the Prodigal Son, “No Ordinary Love” serves a powerful reminder of God’s unconditional love.

5.  Dust to Dust – Wolves at the Gate

A swift punch to the gut, “Dust to Dust” is a jarring and honest look at how we should flee the selfish desires of the world.  In the end, gold, fame, power, and wealth will only leave us empty and wanting more.  The only true treasure is found in the life and death of Jesus Christ.  As always, Wolves at the Gate do a masterful job of combining essential truths of Scripture with the energy of hardcore screamo.

4.  Born This Way – Thousand Foot Krutch  

Featuring aggressive vocals and a mixture of southern riffs, “Born This Way” is another huge hit from Thousand Foot Krutch.  A powerful, rallying cry, Trevor McNevan urges people to be proud of who they are and to always be comfortable in their own skin.

3.  My Allegiance – Ilia  

At least to me, Ilia was probably the biggest surprise of 2014.  Their Reborn EP was intensely catchy, and I still have every track from that release on continual repeat. However, the song, “My Allegiance,” has stuck out to me the most.  From start to finish, Suzy Martinez’s wide vocal range is put on full display.  Not only does she sing clean vocals, but “My Allegiance” also features her signature screams.

2.  Unbroken – Disciple 

What can I say; I’m a sucker for power ballads.  In today’s music world, no one creates more memorable anthems than the guys of Disciple.

 1.  Relief – Wolves at the Gate

“Relief” includes my favorite lyrics of the year.  Proudly declaring the mercy and grace of Christ, Stephen Cobucci passionately sings, “All who are burdened and seeking respite.  All of the hopeless, wretched, and desperate.  All who are worn out and feeling oppressed, come in and find your rest.” A forceful burst of screamo, “Relief” will have you pushing the repeat button over and over again. 

I hope you have enjoyed this look at my top 10 songs of 2014.  As with every list, this blog post would not be complete without my honorable mentions.  All of these songs are very solid, and would easily serve as worthy additions to any Christian rock playlist.   

Thread – Flyleaf
The Structure/The Foundation – The Overseer
We Are the Brave – Veridia
Ambigram – Project 86 
The High Road – Peter Furler Band
Satisfied – House of Heroes
Holding On – Seventh Day Slumber
Paradise – Manafest 
It – Number One Gun
The Last One Alive – Demon Hunter

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Top Ten Christian Rock Albums of 2014

10.  Between the Stars – Flyleaf 
Rating – 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – Set Me On Fire, Thread, City Kids, Home

Between the Stars is easily the most polarizing release of the year.  On one hand, there is a select group of people who are still desperately hoping for the return of Lacey Sturm.  On the other side, numerous people are trying to give new vocalist, Kristen May, a fighting chance.  With Flyleaf’s latest record, one’s enjoyment of it will largely be impacted by how he/she views the new dynamic of the group.  If you are looking for an album that’s similar to the old days of Lacey Sturm, then, you will be sorely disappointed.  But, if you listen to this release with an open mind, then, there are actually quite a few good things to be found.  Yes, Kristen May doesn’t even come close to the vocal range or power of Lacey Sturm.  But, May can still sing really well.  Plus, the supporting cast of Flyleaf are all incredibly talented musicians.  Even though there are a few missteps along the way (“Platonic,” “Head Under Water,” and “Blue Roses”), Between the Stars is still a prime example of how Flyleaf is one of the best bands in the hard rock industry.  Ultimately, if you just give Kristen and the guys from Flyleaf a chance, then, you may just find yourself enjoying what they have to offer.

9.  We Are the Broken – Seventh Day Slumber
Rating – 3 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – We Are the Broken, Nothing to Lose, Comatose State, Holding On

With their latest release, Seventh Day Slumber has fully returned to their early hard rock roots.  As lead vocalist, Joseph Rojas says, “To put it simply, it's a completely honest album that takes us back to where we started.  When you hear these songs there's no doubt; this is Seventh Day Slumber.  We couldn't be prouder of the music.”  Not only is their high energy rock and roll on full display, but Seventh Day Slumber also continues in their usual themes of brokenness, grace, and redemption.  Truly, the only downside to We Are the Broken is the inclusion of Demi Lovato’s song, “Skyscraper.”  Their rendition isn’t terrible, but it is oddly placed and simply doesn’t fit with the flow of the record. 

8.  Sun and Shield – Peter Furler Band
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Dare I Say, Shame, Yeshua, The High Road

For his latest album, Peter Furler has chosen to completely reinvent himself.  Not only has he welcomed two new members to the group, but Furler has also embraced a different side of rock and roll.  On Sun and Shield, his older style of electronic pop has been completely replaced by a new form of unpolished, acoustic-driven rock.  As usual, Furler does not disappoint, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this group.  Will they continue down this same road or will Furler steer them back to the old school “Breakfast” days?  I guess only time will tell which genre of music the Peter Furler Band picks next.

7.  Time Stands Still – Family Force 5
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – BZRK, Walk on Water, Glow In the Dark, Let It Be Love 

Family Force 5 burst onto the Christian rock scene in 2006 with their widely acclaimed debut, Business Up Front, Party in the Back.  With huge hits like “Love Addict” and “Kountry Gentleman” these crunk rockers exploded in popularity with Christian rock fans. Fast forward eight years later and Family Force 5 has returned with their latest album, Time Stands Still.  Dominated by pop rhythms and fast-paced melodies, this release features 15 dance-driven rock songs.  With their undeniable energy, frenetic beats, and quirky lyrics, Family Force 5 has created another fun record that will have you dancing for days.  

6.  Lowborn – Anberlin
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – We Are Destroyer, Stranger Ways, Losing It All, Hearing Voices

Earlier this year, when I heard the news that Lowborn was going to be Anberlin’s final record, I was immediately struck with mixed feelings.  Yes, I was excited about the release of some new music, and yet, I was also sad to hear about the end of their career. On their final record, Anberlin masterfully blends together multiple styles and genres.  It almost seems as if they wanted to try a little bit of everything.  Both “We Are the Destroyer” and “Dissenter” feature driving rhythms and even some hardcore screams. “Harbinger” includes some unique, musical sounds, and “Armageddon” has a solid indie rock feel.  However, the true gems are found in their softer material.  “Hearing Voices” is one of their deepest songs theologically, while “Stranger Ways” has an emotional and stirring quality to it.  In being a band for 12 years, Lowborn won’t go down as the best album of their career. But, it still serves as a fitting and celebratory end.  As fans, all we can say is thank you.

5. Fight the Silence – For Today
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Molotov, Fight the Silence, For the Fallen, Fatherless   

As the title alludes to, the majority of this record was created to give a voice to the voiceless.  The title track brings to light the suffering of slaves and those who are trapped in the sex industry; “Pariah” deals with the final moments of a Christian martyr, “Fatherless” details the confusion and anger of living without a father, and “Hated by the World” speaks of being cast aside and completely abandoned.  Wild and thematically intense, the lyrical subjects prove that this is more than just another heavy metal record. It’s about something much bigger.  Fight the Silence is truly a powerful offering that serves to wake up the masses and urge people to stand up for what they believe in. 

4.  Unconditional – Memphis May Fire
Rating - 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Ordinary Love, The Answer, Speechless, Divinity

Even though the majority of their fan base is outside of the Christian circle, Memphis May Fire is still very open about their faith.  On their latest album, Matty Mullins and the guys from MMF continue in their same style of Gospel-driven metalcore.  According to Mullins, one of the purposes of Unconditional is to let people know, “about the unconditional love of Christ.”  From the story of the prodigal son (“No Ordinary Love”) to battling with loneliness (“Beneath the Skin”) to even finding your purpose in life (“Divinity”), this whole album speaks of our personal struggles and how the Lord still loves us unconditionally.

3.  Oxygen: Inhale – Thousand Foot Krutch
Rating – 4 Stars
Top Tracks – Untraveled Road, Born This Way, I See Red, In My Room, Oxygen

To many, this review might come as a little bit of a shock.  Earlier this year, many critics published some pretty harsh reviews of Thousand Foot Krutch’s latest album.  Most reviewers were upset because of the toned-down approach of Oxygen:Inhale.  On their latest record, less than half of the tracks are true, hard rock tunes, while the rest are either ballads or made for radio pop songs. However, even though quite a few fans and critics were disappointed, I, on the other hand, truly loved this record.  It was very refreshing to hear the members of Thousand Foot Krutch stretch themselves musically.  Instead of just going with their usual hard rock route, they chose to throw in a number of different styles. “Born this Way” and “Give It to Me” have an old school, southern rock and roll feel.  “In My Room” and “Oxygen” are both heartfelt, piano ballads, while the album’s closer, “Glow,” throws in some country melodies.  Ultimately, because of their longtime career, this mellow album doesn’t even come close to some of Thousand Foot Krutch’s best work (Phenomenon, Welcome to the Masquerade).  But, with all its surprises and twists, Oxygen:Inhale is still another impressive release.  

2.  Attack – Disciple
Rating – 4 ½ Stars
Top Tracks – Radical, Scarlet, Unbroken, The Name, Angels & Demons 

If I could describe this album in one word, it would be passion.  Almost every song on Attack speaks about what it means to passionately follow Jesus Christ.  “Radical” could easily serve as this generation’s “Jesus Freak.”  By far the best song on the album, “Unbroken” is a masterful power ballad that highlights the importance of persevering in Christ.  The lyrics of “Angels and Demons” are directly pulled from Romans 8:38-39, while “Scarlet” describes the freeing power of Jesus' grace. With Disciple’s signature mix of honest worship and aggressive rock, Attack is definitely one of the best albums of their career.  After being a band for over twenty years, it’s obvious that Kevin Young and Disciple still have the hunger and drive for producing quality music that seeks to glorify the Lord.

1.  VxV – Wolves at the Gate 
Rating – 5 Stars
Top Tracks – Wake Up, Dust to Dust, Return, Relief, The Convicted

If you have read my blog extensively, then, you probably know by now that I am a huge fan of this group.  After giving their debut album 5 stars, I was highly anticipating this new record.  Thankfully, Wolves at the Gate did not disappoint, and, once again, they have released another memorable album filled with their unique style of faith-based metalcore. On VxV (Five by Five), Wolves at the Gate have also taken their overt Christian beliefs to another level, by choosing to include numerous audio clips of pastors.  At least to me, nothing sounds better than the preaching of John Piper mixed with metal breakdowns and screams. 

I hope you have enjoyed this look at my 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.

1.  This is All We Know – Number One Gun
2.  Rest and Let Go – The Overseer
3.  Extremist – Demon Hunter
4.  From Water to War – Nine Lashes  
5.  The Moment – Manafest

Also, here are my Top EPs of the year.

1.  Reborn – Ilia 
2.  Smoke – House of Heroes
3.  Inseparable - Veridia 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Albums from Tooth and Nail Records

Since its inception in the early 90s, Brandon Ebel (Founder) has played a major role in transforming Tooth and Nail Records into a major force in the Christian rock world.  Over the last 20 years, Tooth and Nail has managed to completely shed their humble beginnings, by releasing numerous records from some of the most important rock bands of our time.

Within my life, I grew up listening to and admiring so many of their iconic artists.  I fondly remember the ways in which Tooth and Nail had a profound impact on my early musical tastes and purchases.

For this post, I want to honor this important record label and share with you my top ten favorite albums from Tooth and Nail.  In creating this list, I am only highlighting my favorite releases, since the year 2000.  Yes, Tooth Nail was able to produce many game-changing records throughout the 1990s.  However, I mainly want to focus in on some of the modern groups within this celebrated label.  I hope you enjoy.

10.  Hanging On By A Thread – The Letter Black (2010)
Top Tracks - Hanging On By A Thread, Believe, There’ll Come A Day

On their Tooth and Nail debut, The Letter Black beautifully offers a hard rock album filled with dual vocals and driving rock and roll melodies.  However, the definite highlight of this record is the lead presence of Sarah Anthony.  Throughout the album, her voice is very polished and crisp, and, yet, she also has a large enough vocal range to pull off some hardcore screams.  For fans of Skillet or Evanescence, Hanging On By A Thread will serve as a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

9.  Songs to Burn Your Bridges By (Re-Release) – Project 86 (2004) 
Top Tracks – The Spy Hunter, A Shadow On Me, Safe Haven

In the summer of 2004, Project 86 decided to re-release their album, Songs to Burn Your Bridges By.  For most hardcore fans, they quickly noticed the substantial changes between this special release and the original one.  Not only did Project 86 include three brand new songs, but they also shuffled around the official track listing and they created some brand new artwork.  Beyond these few added bonuses, this record also features their usual mix of dark imagery and hook-driven, hard rock.  Lyrically, Project 86 has never been afraid to push the boundaries, and Songs to Burn Your Bridges By is no exception.  They place their dark themes on full display, by singing about everything from child abuse to a desperate search for truth.  After multiple spins, I have to admit, there is not a lot of hope on this record.  However, Project 86 still knows the perfect formula for putting out a great hardcore album.  With this re-release, they not only strengthened an already solid record, but they also managed to throw in enough new elements to keep their fans excited.

8.  Smile, It’s the End of the World – Hawk Nelson (2006)
Top Tracks – The One Thing I Have Left, Everything You Ever Wanted, Zero

After the release of their very successful debut, Hawk Nelson returned, in 2006, with their highly anticipated sophomore album.  For Smile, It’s the End of the World, Hawk Nelson found themselves going through a number of lineup and musical changes.  The end result was a catchy and yet mature piece of pop rock.  “The One Thing I Have Left” starts the record on a blistering note, as lead vocalist, Jason Dunn, boldly sings about always clinging to his personal beliefs.  “Everything You Ever Wanted” tragically deals with the repercussions of divorce, and “Zero” serves as an emotional plea against suicide.  Even though Hawk Nelson is not as bold about their faith as they were on their debut, Smile, It’s the End of the World is still a thoughtful and, at times, fun sophomore release. 

7.  The Everglow – Mae (2005)
Top Tracks – Someone Else’s Arms, Suspension, The Everglow

Sadly, after a ten year career, this alternative group officially called it quits back in 2011.  Throughout their time as a band, Mae was able to release three full length albums, alongside numerous EPs and special B-Sides.  However, the true high point of their career came in 2005, with the release of The Everglow.  This unique record serves as a moving musical experience, rather than just a simple album.  From the opening instructions to the artwork to the captivating melodies, Mae takes the listener on a powerful journey that only gets better with time. 

6.  They’re Only Chasing Safety – Underoath (2004)
Top Tracks – Young and Aspiring, It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door, Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape

Serving as one of the modern pioneers in combining hook-driven choruses and punk vocals, Underoath managed to craft a record filled with radio-friendly screamo.  “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” expertly mixes together harsh screams and a simple children’s choir, while “Reinventing Your Exit” and “A Boy Brushed Red Living In Black and White” are prime examples of pop hardcore.  With a combination of catchy choruses and headbanging jams, They’re Only Chasing Safety proved to be the spark that catapulted Underoath directly into hardcore royalty.

5.  Cities – Anberlin (2007)
Top Tracks – Godspeed, Hello Alone, Alexithymia, (*Fin)

If I could describe this album in one word, it would be emotional.  Almost every song on Cities highlights the wide range of emotions that we will experience throughout our lives. Anberlin beautifully sings about everything from love and loss (“Adelaide,” “Inevitable”) to moments of depression (“Hello Alone,” “Alexithymia”) to even questioning the goodness of God (“Fin”).  It’s clear, from start to finish, the members of Anberlin literally bear their souls on this record.  The end result is a crowning achievement of brutal honesty and poignant rock and roll. 

4.  What Are You Waiting For? – FM Static (2003)
Top Tracks – Three Days Later, Something to Believe In, Definitely Maybe, October  

Serving as the side project of famed Christian rockers Trevor McNevan and Steve Augustine (Thousand Foot Krutch), FM Static officially released their debut album back in 2003. Filled with eleven punk rock anthems, What Are You Waiting For is a great addition to your summer collection of music.  With raw vocals, simple riffs, teenage love, and sing-along choruses, FM Static’s debut is still the perfect album to turn up the volume and blare on a sunny, carefree day.

3.  Define the Great Line – Underoath (2006)
Top Tracks – A Moment Suspended In Time, You’re Ever So Inviting, Moving for the Sake of Motion, Writing on the Walls

From the opening lines of their first single to the blasting rhythms of “In Regards to Myself,” Underoath truly matured in every area of their sound and style.  Gone are the pop flavors and teenage angst of their previous album, and instead, Underoath embraced a much edgier and darker form of metalcore.  Their attention to detail is impeccable, and the dual vocals of Aaron Gillespie and Spencer Chamberlain truly shine.  Back in 2006, Define the Great Line was probably the most anticipated release of the year.  After the exploding success of They’re Only Chasing Safety, everyone wanted to get their hands on this record. Underoath not only handled the added pressure of their past hit, but they fully proved that they had the talent and creativity to be counted among the metalcore elite.

2.  Phenomenon – Thousand Foot Krutch (2003)
Top Tracks – Phenomenon, Step To Me, Rawkfist, Ordinary

I remember way back in high school when I heard “Rawkfist” for the first time.  Since then, I have been addicted to Thousand Foot Krutch and the vocals of Trevor McNevan.  Even though the group has released numerous top quality records throughout their career, I still keep coming back to Phenomenon.  On this album, McNevan has never sounded better. His powerful vocals beautifully compliment the group’s diverse sound.  Whether they are creating hardcore beats or performing pop ballads, McNevan’s vocals masterfully compliment the group’s popular brand of rock and roll.

1.  Children 18:3 – Children 18:3 (2008)
Top Tracks – All My Balloons, LCM, Search Warrant, Homemade Valentine

From the very first notes of “All My Balloons” to the closing riffs of “Final,” this record took me completely by surprise.  The Hostetter siblings have the maturity level of seasoned music veterans, and you could even describe their debut album as perfection.  Fueled by goth make-up and edgy rhythms, Children 18:3 is a fun and wild ride of raucous punk rock.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at my top ten albums released on Tooth and Nail Records.  As with every list, this blog post would not be complete without my honorable mentions.  All of these records are very solid, and would easily serve as worthy additions to any Tooth and Nail playlist. 

A Fire So Big the Heavens Can See It – Search the City (2008)
Last Chance to Breathe – Spoken (2005)
Lost Weekend – Write This Down (2012)
Southern Weather – The Almost (2007)
Letters to the President – Hawk Nelson (2004)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Buy Your Music

In today’s music world, there are so many options to choose from.  You can buy your music legally from the numerous online stores that sell digital and physical copies.  You can also use popular websites to stream music, such as Spotify and PureVolume.  Or, you can take advantage of the plethora of social media sites that are dedicated to musicians.

Throughout all of these innovations, a major plus has been the ever increasing accessibility of music.  You can now find information, songs, videos, and personal interviews in just a click of a button.  Through Twitter and Facebook, you can contact and chat with your favorite musical groups.  Yet, even though the personal experience for fans has improved, are the artists actually seeing the benefits of this free, social world of music?

Over these last few years, two websites that have exploded in popularity are YouTube and Spotify.  Especially on YouTube, not only can you find almost any song imaginable, free of charge, but, nowadays, people are also uploading full albums as one online video.  You can only imagine how these videos are hurting the bottom line for bands and record labels.

For Spotify, there have been many online discussions about the exact amount that artists receive from this service.  But, most conservative estimates will say that rights holders will receive somewhere between “$0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties.”  However, there have been other reports that cite artists making as little as .002 to .004 cents per play.

For the megastars, such as Katy Perry and Eminem, there is definitely money to be made on free, streaming websites.  When your songs are being played millions of times on Spotify, then, this small royalty, of less than a penny, will slowly add up to substantial profits.

However, for the average, small Christian rock group, there is no money to be made on these types of sites.  A band does not get paid when someone illegally uploads their record to YouTube.  Even if the group is able to receive a large number of Spotify streams, then, their profits still have to be divided between record labels, guest writers, and all the members of the band.  

Yes, these online services may help a musical group receive more publicity, but is the rise in exposure worth enduring a great loss in profits?  Many of these sites claim that they are in business to support artists, but their paychecks say something entirely different.  Sadly, this new digital age has been one of the biggest killers of small, independent music.

Of course, social media and streaming websites are not going anywhere.  They are here to stay.  Within your free time, there is nothing wrong with listening to a song on Spotify or watching a new video on YouTube.  However, if these sites are serving as a replacement for actually going out and purchasing a physical or digital album, then, that’s where the problem comes in.

If you want to see your favorite band or musician thrive and continue making music, then, it’s vital that you support them financially.  Go to the shows, and buy some of their merchandise.  Support their online campaigns, by donating to their Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or PledgeMusic account.  For the majority of independent musicians, especially Christian rock ones, these fundraising platforms are huge, because they allow the money to go straight into the hands of artists, who are making the music in the first place.  

The simple solution is:  if you like the song or album, do not click on the quickest streaming website or make an illegal download.  But, choose to encourage and support musicians by purchasing their music directly. This small act will go a long way in helping your favorite band continue to make music for many years to come.

(Picture taken from thecurrent.org)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top Anticipated Albums in 2014

2013 has come and gone.  Now, it’s time to take a look at another year of music. This list is my top ten anticipated projects for 2014.

10.  Seventh Day Slumber – We Are the Broken
Genre – Rock
Previous Releases – Love and Worship (2013), The Anthem of Angels (2011), Take Everything (2009), Finally Awake (2007), Once Upon A Shattered Life (2005)

Seventh Day Slumber is promising a return to their early rock roots.  As they have already stated, this new record will have elements of both Once Upon A Shattered Life and Finally Awake.  Yet, oddly enough, for reasons unknown, Seventh Day Slumber has decided to release their new album in two, separate parts.  For part 1, the group has already titled it, We Are the Broken.

9.  Emery – You Were Never Alone
Genre – Rock/Alternative
Previous Releases – We Do What We Want (2011), In Shallow Seas We Sail (2009), I’m Only A Man (2007), The Question (2005), The Weak’s End (2004)

After leaving Tooth and Nail Records in late 2013, the guys from Emery have been very busy.  Besides starting their online project called “Bad Christian,” Emery also promised that new music would be coming in 2014.  With no indication of the sound, style, or even the release date, fans have largely been given little to no information.  But, if the name Emery is going to be attached to it, then you can guarantee that this new album will be good.

8.  Ashes Remain – TBA
Genre – Rock
Previous Releases – What I’ve Become (2011)

So far, Ashes Remain has not given any concrete information as to whether or not they will be releasing a full length album in 2014.  Instead, through social media, they have simply acknowledged that they have begun the process of writing new music.  Throughout this year, I will have my fingers crossed for an announcement regarding their sophomore album.

7.  Manafest – TBA
Genre – Rap Rock
Previous Releases – Fighter (2012), The Chase (2010), Citizens Activ (2008), Glory (2006), Epiphany (2005)

I have always been intrigued by the music of Manafest.  I love how he finds unique ways to mix together hip hop and rock and roll.  Even today, he still serves as one of the few artists who has had continued success within the world of rap rock.

6.  Flyleaf – TBA
Genre – Rock
Previous Releases – New Horizons (2012), Memento Mori (2009), Flyleaf (2005)

With the addition of vocalist, Kristen May, this album will be a great measuring stick for the new sound of the group.  Only time will tell if May has the vocal chops to continue the legacy that was first started by former member, Lacey Sturm.

5.  Pillar – TBA
Genre – Hard Rock
Previous Releases – Confessions (2009), For the Love of the Game (2008), The Reckoning (2006), Where Do We Go From Here (2004), Fireproof (2002)

It’s been just under five years since their previous record.  Giving their fans a taste for the new music that was coming in 2014, Pillar graciously released their cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”  After listening to their take on this Christmas classic, it’s clear that Pillar still has the talent to produce great hard rock.

4.  For Today – Fight the Silence (Feb. 4)
Genre – Hardcore/Metal
Previous Releases – Immortal (2012), Breaker (2010), Portraits (2009), Ekklesia (2008)

It will be challenging for them to top some of their past releases; but, if their latest song, “Fight the Silence,” is any indication of the direction for their new release, then For Today will easily be creating the metal album of the year.  Right now, it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be another great year for these outspoken metalheads.

3.  House of Heroes – TBA  
Genre – Rock
Previous Releases – Cold Hard Want (2012), Suburba (2010), The End is Not the End (2008), House of Heroes (2005)

This one is just a given.  Go and buy the new House of Heroes’ record when it comes out. You will be better for it.

2.  Family Force 5 – TBA  
Genre – Crunk Rock
Previous Releases – III (2011), Dance or Die (2008), Business Up Front, Party in the Back (2006) 

Without original member, Solomon Olds (Soul Glow Activatur), this will literally be the next generation of Family Force 5.  Promising to be their best music to date, Family Force 5 has large shoes to fill in their fourth studio album.

1.  Wolves at the Gate – TBA  
Genre – Post-Hardcore
Previous Releases – Captors (2012)

If you have read my blog extensively, then you probably know by now that I am a huge fan of this group.  I even gave their debut album 5 stars.  After exploding onto the scene two years ago, Wolves at the Gate is primed and ready to once again put their faith on full display, by crafting another set of memorable screamo tunes.

Overall, this is my list of ten albums that I cannot wait to buy in 2014.  Here are a few more bands to look out for.  These groups will also be releasing new music this year.

Nine Lashes
Rend Collective Experiment
Peter Furler Band
Demon Hunter
Children 18:3
Project 86