I just finished reading Jesus Triumphant, the latest book in the “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series by Brian Godawa. I’m not one who searches the modern Christian section on Amazon to find something to read much less browse the “Christian Fiction” section. The “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series sits head and shoulders (pun intended) above what most of Christendom is dishing out these days. Brian doesn’t shy away from sex and romance in these books but they are a far cry from the romance of other books in the genre like Pioneer Brides and Romance In The Amish Country. Brian also doesn’t shy away from describing the depraved sexual acts of the fallen watchers.
If any atheists are reading this, I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself after I’m sure you’re still laughing your ass off thinking, “shouldn’t all Christian writing be in the fiction section?”
Ok chuckles, let’s continue on. I first found out about Brian’s book series by listening to a podcast that is heavily focused on a futuristic end times scenario, think Left Behind. I don’t hold this particular view but my interest in transhumanism and the Nephilim force me to these questionable theological places to get information.
The interview was very informative but I probably wouldn’t have bit if Brian wouldn’t have politely dodged a question trying to relate what happened in the days of Noah with what is projected to happen during the end times. I was pleasantly shocked since almost all research on the Nephilim has some sort of end times relevance.
So what is this series all about? Well, a lot of things. First off they are of course about the Nephilim (Genesis 6). A lot of teachers either shy away from the earliest and I think clearest interpretation of the text or go way out of Biblical bounds in regards to their importance. Brian does a fine job of staying within the Biblical framework. This series is also very well written, all of these books were hard to put down and I finished all of them within a few days. They also personalize Old Testament stories in a way that is refreshing. Brian has done some extensive historical research and fills in the details that humanizes and clarifies some of these Old Testament stories that when read with modern mindsets can seem strange, if not incomprehensible. He admittedly takes some liberty to flesh out the stories but holds to what could have happened.
All of these books come with an extensive appendix where Brian lays out his reason for telling the story the way he does and some fascinating research on things like the cosmology of the Near East, a more Jewish version of the afterlife and how the Nephilim story really is front and center in all of the Old Testament and with this new novel, some of the New Testament as well.
I was happy to read at the end of Jesus Triumphant that there is going to be another book about the fulfillment of the prophecies in AD 70. These books do contain some language and as I mentioned early some sex scenes, Brian describes them as PG-13. He has come out with an edited series for teens. These are also available as audio books.
I’ve interviewed Brian several times in Down The Line and on the Basement Tapes. You can reference those for more info about the books and the storyline. Brian has also released the appendix of the books as one unit which has been an invaluable source for me as I study the Bible.[2015 Brian Godawa | Purchase: godawa.com/chronicles_of_the_nephilim/index.html]
Back in the day, long before Slayer existed as band, Belshazzar was seated on the throne in the palace in Babylon, holding a big feast. While partying it up, sacred
vessels were taken from the Jerusalem Temple. They drank wine from these vessels while praising the Babylonian gods, thus profaning Yahweh. A disembodied hand appears and writes “Mene Tequel Ufarsim,” the name of the new Doomsday Hymn album, on the wall of the palace. After several failed attempts to interpret, Daniel is sent for and interprets the message as the end of the Babylonian kingdom. Later on that night, Belshazzar is killed and Babylon taken over. This makes for a perfect segue for the band Doomsday Hymn to plug in their instruments and play majestic thrash as the backdrop for the sacking of Babylon.
Doomsday Hymn are a Brazillian band. One of the guitarists from another band I like, Seven Angels (on Bombworks Records), joined up with this band. To my ears, they sound as good and tight as Sepultura. They released their debut EP in 2013, and Rotweiller Records picked them up for this record. As I write, they are playing all over Central America for several months. The live footage I’ve seen showcases their great stage presence. Singer Gil Lopes is an aggressive frontman with a love for his craft.
All the right ingredients are here: fast and technical guitar, a roaming, growly bass, brutal vocals, and tight, tight drums. Be forewarned that the album is sung entirely in Portuguese. Yes, this is an amazing effort, and it is not metalcore.
So if you are a fan of the old school, do yourself a solid and check out their YouTube videos. Then go to: http://www.rottweilerrecords.bigcartel.com/ and get their new album.[2015 Rottweiler Records | Purchase: rottweilerrecords.bigcartel.com]
Randy Layton does it again. Alternative Records has been excavating musical treasures and releasing them for 26 years. I picked up Robert Vaughn’s Love & War album back in the late 80s due to the “genius” reputation Exit Records had earned. Exit was home to musical proteges wanting to hand a stick of dynamite to the CCM world. This was also the last album Exit released. With distribution from Island Records, Love & War received national radio exposure but a big splash it make not. The press compared Robert Vaughn to Little Steven and Elvis Costello. While those comparisons may guide enthusiasts with no prior intro to Robert Vaughn, his music definitely stands out on its own.
Love & War is exemplary in how it meshes political themes throughout. Justice, the radio airplay single, may be identified as a rallying cry for the exiled in Central America: “Hear the justice like thunder, As it’s rolling down the skies, Where are all the fatherless people who swore they’de never die.” The following two cuts, Palace Of Tears and Dreaming Fields amalgamate lament and apocalyptic hope.
Randy remastered this recording. Comparing the sonics of this CD to the original vinyl, I am pleased with a remarkably fuller sound. While the original recording is crisp, sound production standards of the 80’s were more thin than current standards. This re-release also adds more than ten bonus tracks, most demoes of tracks from the Love & War era. I especially enjoyed Writing On The Wall, a recording which also appears on Bootlevel, a CD compilation on Alternative Records in ‘94.
Other distinguishing aspects of this album are the real drums and keys. Keyboardist John Nau can really make the ivory blend and soar in a guitar-driven band. I would favourably place this album in the same musical soundscape as The Alarm or Midnight Oil. If any of this description resonates with you, I recommend picking up this CD. Alternative worked on this back in 2000 and was never officially released. But if you want more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org[2000 Alternative Records | Purchase: email@example.com]
When I first heard that Holy Blood was dropping the folk side of their folk metal signature sound, I was more than a bit worried. Black/death/grind/etc bands can easily become cliché caricatures of their own genre once they lose that particular element that makes them unique. It was the folk that drew me into Holy Blood’s sound initially. However, listening to Day of Vengeance quickly put those fears at ease. While the folk instruments are gone, the unique folk metal time signatures and vocalizations are still present, giving Holy Blood more than enough character to rise above the extreme metal pack. The vocal style is mostly growling that leans towards shouting – a nice mix that comes across well in the mix. This album seems to be a mostly one-man project now, but don’t let that worry you. The songs are brutal, diverse, and powerful. It’s almost as if an entire band is there. Personally, I find the artwork a bit creepy, but that’s a minor nit-pick (and it may have been meant to be that way). Holy Blood may be making some changes, but fans of brutal extreme metal will still find plenty to dig into here.[2015 Bombworks Records | Purchase: Amazon]
Another stretch for DTL, but also another quality early Jesus Music release that fans with wide musical tastes should check out. Sonlight changed names to become Koinonia – this album was originally their self-titled release under their original name. This re-issue helps to make the connection with Koinonia, who made a name for themselves as a band and as well as backing up Andrae Crouch on his legendary albums. This album is a nice mixture of jazz, rock, pop, and progressive music. No matter what style is being played, the musicianship on display is top notch. As a bass guitar player myself, I can’t help but notice the great bass lines throughout. The most rocking song (“Truth Of Salvation”) is saved for the last, which is of course my favorite track – but I can see myself listening to the whole album when in the right mood. Another great re-issue by Born Twice Records.[2014 Born Twice Records | Purchase: Amazon]
So this album is a bit outside of what we usually review at DTL, but I am always up for expanding my musical horizons. Most people have probably heard of Andraé Crouch, but this debut album is actually from the year before he became the Jesus Music super star. The interesting aspect that I pick up on most while listening to this album is that I hear shades of the early Sacred Steel sounds that eventually produced Robert Randolph and the Family band. An early influence on Randolph maybe? Possibly. The opening song (“You Ain’t Livin’”) shows a good deal of groove, swagger, guitar, and smooth vocals. I’ll admit that I gravitate more towards the faster songs on this disc like the opener, “Come On Back My Child,” and “Lord, You’ve Been Good to Me” than the slower CCM-ish ballads. But none of the songs are bad – even the cheesy country song “God Love the Country People” is enjoyable to listen to. As with all Born Twice re-issues, the remastering is top-notch, making this album sound new and fresh. The backing musicians on this album were also in a band called Sonlight, which will be reviewed next. Fans of smooth, jazzy, pop/contemporary/rock will want to check this one out.[2014 Born Twice Records | Purchase: Amazon]
The Lonely Revolts are back – gruff, rough and in your face. The hard thing about reviewing all of these new Christian punk rock bands is that punk was never really about innovation, but just getting loud and getting something off your chest… so it feels like I write the same thing for all of them. But Thumper Punk seems to find an endless supply of Christian punk bands that really seem to get punk. The Lonely Revolts are not wildly innovative or original, but I can’t help but like it. There is just something about the passion and style of punk that I don’t get tired of… as long as it is played by people that “get” it. The Lonely Revolts “get” it, and if you are like me and can’t help but love punk, this is a release to check out. They really don’t slow down until the last song – kind of. So check this out and hang on for yet another fun punk rock ride.[2015 Thumper Punk Records | Purchase: thumperpunkrecords.bandcamp.com]
Peter 118 cranks out a quick ep of straight up punk with a few acoustic/oi! influences here and there. The songs sit back and find a groove more often than just going for full-on speed punk, which makes for good driving music. Well, for short drives that is 🙂 . If you are looking for rock-out punk with anthemic vocals instead of speed and intensity (which is also not a bad thing), Peter 118 will be up your alley. Thumper punk: the place where quality Christian punk lives on.[2015 Thumper Punk Records | Purchase: thumperpunkrecords.bandcamp.com]
In the midst of what, to me, has been a bad year compared to last for new music releases ‘Lands and Peoples’ swoops in to save the day!
Bill Mallonee is Americana, I honestly can not think of anyone in the genre that has this consistent output. In my mind every bit as good as Dylan, Prine, Guthrie, Neil Young, etc. Listen to his discography, not a bad album in the giant bunch, not a bad track, not a bad riff, not a bad line. I’d put his catalog up against anyone in the genre and he’d come out on top.
His latest is a traveling album: road songs, songs of the human struggle, and the spiritual relief the good Lord brings. The listener lives vicariously through Bill’s life experience and stories through each song. Many of these songs give the feeling of the thoughts going through ones mind while on a long road trip during those quiet breaks through rural back highways when taking in Creation and the glories of God… You see the scenery and reflect on life as the country passes by at 70mph, you work things out, you remember the good, the bad, and the glorious. I need music like this to slow me down and take a breathe. This is the perfect follow up to last years ‘Winnowing’, the focus and care put into his last 6 albums is unmatched in the business. Each album is a complete thought, every track is where it should be, good start to finish. The kind of art you take some time out of your life to sit, relax, listen, and soak it in. His uncompromising soul is poured out with every line and shows him as one of the finest lyricist to ever grab a guitar on each and every album.
Here’s a very brief track by track.
1. “At Least For A Little While” is a very atmospheric and reflective opener, pulls you in for what’s to follow.
2. “Hide Me In The Darkness” has a gritty, mid tempo rocker with a Neil Young vibe, the line ‘Loves got a million faces, but only one heart’ really sticks with you.
3. “Falling Through The Cracks” is one of my favorites on the album, been humming the opening riff since it first hit me, definite Mallonee classic.
4. “Steering Wheel is a Prayer Wheel” My favorite thus far on the album, the opening line ‘There ain’t nothin like the past to remind you who you are, and there ain’t nothin’ like the present to tell you who you aren’t.’ will get you ponderin’ for a spell.
5. “String Of Days” is a beautiful sobering ballad.
6. “Sangre De Cristos” is the epitome of the Americana/Alt Country sound, so many try and fail, not the Mallonee’s.
7. “Northern Lights and Southern Cross” ‘…sometimes distractions are what serve you best, when you’re coming apart at the seams’ one of the many amazing lines that grip your soul on this number.
8. “Lands and Peoples” This song should be known across the countryside. It feels so familiar, but not forced, and completely original, a new standard for America.
9. “I’ll Swing With Everything I Got” by the time you hit this song, you realize just how amazing this album is. The title says it all.
10. “Swing It, Joe” That last stretch of a road trip, reflecting on what you’ve been through, knowing the comfort that lies ahead at home, that’s the feel I get from this one, might hit you different. The chorus will stick with you the rest of your days.
11. “Hope The Kids Make It Out” Another favorite on the album, nice driving bass line, the way I like to play. The instrumentation on this one hit me in all the right places. Would love to play this live with Bill and a drummer.
12. “It All Turns To Dust” a real heart breaker to close the album.
Highly recommend this and any of Mallonee’s albums. He is a national treasure. God bless him and Muriah and lets hope he never stops!
I am behind on this review, as the full-length is already out. But based on these few songs alone, I need to get the full length. The first track,“White Night, Black Light,” is a Doug Burr going to the next level, mixing in a Wovenhand-ish, Nick Cave-ish sensibility that is still all his own. Things slow down a bit for the somber and beautiful “Visible Noise.” Then Burr goes for an Americana romp on “Never Gonna Be Young Again.” Two songs on the 7-inch, three on the download, and I believe some aren’t on the full length. I love when an artist I already loved takes their craft up a few notches.[2015 Velvet Blue Music | Purchase: velvetbluemusic.com]