(c) 2015 VSR Music Group
- Bring It On
- Hunger Strike
- I'll Bleed
- Lost In The Lights
Jeremy Holderfield--Guitars, Piano, Programming, Backing Vocals
Kevin Young--Duet Vocals on "Hunger Strike"
Lester Estelle, Jr.--Drums, Programming
Brent Milligan--Bass Guitar
While not as well known as many of their cross-over contemporaries, Seventh Day Slumber has one of the larger catalogs of material among the Octane-friendly Christian modern rock crowd. With Redline, the band has now released 11 CDs/EPs in the past 20 years, not counting a reissued album and a repackaged compilation of their early material. Coupled with almost non-stop touring, its sometimes hard for me to understand why so few people seem to have heard of these rockers outside of the Christian arena. At the same time, we are also talking about a band that makes no bones about the fact that they are not out to be rockstars and do not seek glory for themselves, so perhaps it is by design that 7DS tends to fly under the radar of so many people.
With Redline, it is obvious to this longtime fan that the band has definitely spent a LOT of time with fellow Christian rockers, Disciple, both out on the road and in the studio, as Kevin Young (lead vocalist of Disciple) makes his presence felt both directly and indirectly all across this EP. Its interesting because the two bands seem to be going in opposite directions, stylistically. Disciple was formerly known as a rap-metal outfit, before going more mainstream with their sound and finding a good deal of success, I might add, with a more modern hard rock sound. 7DS, on the other hand, starts off this mini-album with a straight-up rap-rock track that would make P.O.D. stand up and take notice. In fact, the insanely catchy "Bring It On" sounds so much like P.O.D. during the verses that I actually thought I may have put that band's new album in by mistake. The song is very well written and executed, and as I said, catchy as all get-out, and is sure to be a concert anthem for many tours to come, with it's scream along chorus of "Bring it on if you wanna; Bring it on, I can take your best shot! Bring it on, I'm a fighter; I can take anything that you've got!"
The EPs gears shift decidedly downward for the next track, the much more subdued "Gone", which features a fair amount of programming and electronic drums, but which also really allows Rojas to showcase his singing ability. This song reminds me a lot of the material 7DS was releasing 5-7 years ago when the band went in a much more praise and worship direction, albeit in a still fairly amped up manner. Not bad, but not nearly as powerful or as effective as the opener.
The real shock on this EP is the inclusion of "Hunger Strike" from the grunge supergroup, Temple Of The Dog. Written by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, and featuring Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on co-lead vocals,"Hunger Strike" is, in my estimation, a grunge classic, and one that I would have NEVER in a million years expected to show up on a Christian album. It's not that the material is anti-Christian by ANY stretch of the imagination, it's just that grunge and Christian don't really seem to meld, if you understand my angle here. All this being said, 7DS take this classic and alter it just enough to not sound like a cookie-cutter clone of the original....which also takes the edge out of the song, unfortunately. My wife actually told me she thinks it sounds "countrified" with the cleaner guitars and Kevin Young's vocal approach on the verses performed by Cornell on the original. Young does add some edge and rasp to his vocals in the pre-chorus section, which energizes the track a bit, and Rojas does a decent enough job with Vedder's lines, but the song just...well, it's not "grungy" now, and the rawness that made the song so powerful in its original form is gone. Kudos for the attempt, but I think the angst needed turned up a notch musically to really pull this off.
The last two tracks, "I'll Bleed" and "Lost In The Lights" are both up-tempo rockers that steer the band back into the direction that I am most comfortable with them working in, which is the modern hard rock arena. I'm not a big fan of the way Rojas utilizes an almost spoken-word approach in parts of "I'll Bleed", but for people who have ever seen 7DS in concert, they will know that this is who Joseph Rojas is; he is a speaker, even a preacher, from the stage who uses music to get his words and thoughts across, so this song is not far removed from who he is. "Lost In The Lights" has some odd synthesizer/programming effects thrown into the mix, but they aren't so much a detraction as they are used to enhance the song, especially during and around the chorus.
The liner notes, despite being an EP, are rather extensive, with full lyrics, including the lyrics to "Hunger Strike", which is often not the case with cover songs. There is a single band photo under the CD tray, as well as the usual thank-you's, credits, etc. The production is solid, which is especially amazing when you take into account A) the band is on a tiny label that I have never heard of, B) the album was produced by their guitar player, and C) the band is giving away 100% of the proceeds from the album to charities that feed starving children in underdeveloped parts of the world. As such, you have to believe the band did everything they could to keep costs low, yet they still manage to pull off a professional sounding recording, which is impressive.
One thing that hurts a bit is the overall length. At just over 16 minutes, there is really no time for the band to make up on any weak areas of the album, and with just 5 songs, any misses are amplified all the more. Had this album featured even two or three more full-throttle rockers, I think the softer moments would have held their own a bit better.
Overall, this is a decent, if not spectacular EP, that I am sure fans of the band will gobble up, and with good reason...and with a good cause being supported, to boot. I'm not as impressed with the musical direction of this effort as I was with their previous album, We Are The Broken, but as I stated before, I do think "Bring It On" is an instant anthem for the band and truly deserves to be heard on Sirius/XM Octane. I guarantee that my sons...and their father...will be pumping their fists in the air to this song the next time they come into our area, and in all honesty, I hope they perform "Hunger Strike" live as well, so I can hear if they pull off a bit more edge, with a bit less polish, in the live setting.
Rating: Rock this at 6.5, but don't hesitate to pick it up and support a worthy cause.