(c) 2014 VSR Music Group/Capitol Christian Distribution
- All She Wants
- We Are The Broken
- Nothing To Lose
- In Too Deep
- Trust In Me
- Comatose State
- Holding On
Jeremy Holderfield--Guitar, Vocals
Ken Reed--Bass, Vocals
Seventh Day Slumber is a band that has been around the block a few times. They have toured extensively, released nearly a dozen albums, had chart success, and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in Christian rock in their 20+ years of existence. But the band threw their fan base for a bit of a loop in 2013 by releasing a rock praise and worship record, Love And Worship, just two years after the relatively disappointing The Anthem of Angels. Honestly, I thought the band's plan was to shift almost entirely to the harder-styled worship music heard on Love And Worship, and I would not only have been okay with that, but I also could have understood it. It seemed on The Anthem of Angels...and honestly, even on the album before that, Take Everything, which included multiple covers of other artists' songs...that perhaps the band was out of ideas for the rock crowd. Other Christian rock bands had gone this route, with Kutless being the most obvious name to pop into my head, and again, I would have been okay if that was the route 7DS decided to go. I just probably wouldn't have actively followed.
But the band threw me a curveball with We Are The Broken. Rather than continue in the praise direction, 7DS came roaring back to their harder-edged sound. "Goodbye" and "All She Wants" are both very reminiscent of the post-grunge modern rock approach the band had such great success with on previous albums Once Upon A Shattered Life and Finally Awake, which were the albums that drew me to the band originally. Rojas has such a smooth delivery for most of the material that it sounds like he is exerting virtually no effort on tracks such as these two openers, and he is truly a gifted singer in his ability to express emotion and to draw listeners into his message. With these two tracks, I felt pretty comfortable in being able to anticipate where the record was going.
Then the title track hit. That quickly, the album went from pretty good to really good, seemingly in all the time it took for the CD to track to the next song. Co-written by Red's Michael Barnes, "We Are The Broken" is a huge anthem of a song, with hard charging guitars, a catchy, sing-along chorus, and some excellent edge and grit added to Rojas' vocals. The drum pattern through the chorus sections is absolutely infectious, and the tempo change after the second chorus commands the listener to refocus and gather themselves before charging headfirst into another head-banging, fist-pounding chorus. THIS is what I want from Seventh Day Slumber, and THIS is what had been missing from the previous efforts.
"Nothing To Lose" continues the harder material, with some nifty rhythm guitar work and a really cool, layered chorus that finds Rojas pleading, "So hollow, Unwanted, Please save me from the Dark!" Really solid lyrical work here, expressing the band's faith without pounding anyone over the head with it and potentially pushing listeners away from such an important message.
"In Too Deep" keeps things going with some more really solid drum work from the uncredited musician who performed here, as well as some more really strong vocal turns from Rojas. Not quite as grab-you-by-the-ears as the previous two tracks, "In Too Deep" is still a solid effort and one that will likely continue to worm its way into 7DS setlists for years to come.
"Trust In Me" scales things WAY back, incorporating strings (likely synthesized), a piano, much tamer drums, and considerably less aggressive guitar work than anything previously found on this record. Not a horrible ballad, but one that probably has more in common with Love And Worship than We Are The Broken, at least to me.
"Comatose State" returns to the rock, but it feels a bit like a reworking of "Nothing To Lose" musically, and a bit like "All She Wants" lyrically. Still a decent song, but I would have liked to have a bit more originality here, especially as the album is winding down. The same could be said of "Holding On", which has a bit of an "In Too Deep" feel to the music, especially during the verse sections, although there are some harsher, more screamed vocals used in the background here that do add a bit of a different dimension to the track.
The album closes with a real oddity, in my opinion, as the band decides to tackle "Skyscraper", a cover of...gulp...a Demi Lovato tune! As I mentioned above, 7DS showed a penchant for covering other artists' songs in the past (and they have continued to do so on later releases), so a cover tune was not wholly unexpected, but this particular song was not something I was even remotely considering as potential Seventh Day Slumber cover material. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this cover, to be honest. The message here is a strong one, to be sure, and the performance isn't bad, but I don't really know what the band is attempting to accomplish here. The album is only 9 songs long as it is, and only clocks in at roughly 33 minutes, so to throw in an off-hand cover like this is kind of disappointing. I would have far preferred another original track.
The production here is actually pretty good, with no glaring issues. The CD packaging is simplistic with no band photos and no lyrics, but a fairly extensive thank-you section and a pretty cool cover, at least in my opinion. Also, as I mentioned, whoever is performing on drums is uncredited, although I am guessing it is either Lester Estelle, Jr., or Brent Milligan, as they are both listed as "Additional Musicians"...but we don't know what either man plays. The other possibility is that Joe's son, Blaise, is the drummer here and simply not credited, as he has taken over the kit seat in the band on their 2015 effort, Redline, and is the touring drummer, as well.
All in all, We Are The Broken is a solid return from a band that appeared to be threatening to slip into relative obscurity, even in a genre where MOST of the bands would be classified as "obscure" by the majority of music consumers. Happily, that did not happen and it does not appear the band has any intentions of slipping from the Christian hard rock scene's consciousness anytime soon.
Rating: A bit short, but the high points definitely make up for the minor misses. Crank this to 7.