(c) 2017 VSR Music Group
- Sky Is Falling
- Sins Of Our Fathers
- Heart On My Sleeve
- Mercy Meets My Pain
- Til The End
- Tomorrow Breaks (Into The Fire)
- My Last Words
Joseph Rojas--Lead Vocals, Guitars
Jeremy Holderfield--Lead Guitars
Blaise Rojas--Drums, Percussion
I first encountered Seventh Day Slumber about 12 years ago, or so, when I was rummaging through a used CD store in Denver, Colorado. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and was a big fan of the arena/hair metal genre, so when I found this CD called Picking Up The Pieces by Seventh Day Slumber, I had to snag it. Why? Because the track listing included "When The Children Cry", and I had to know if it was the same song that was done by White Lion. Ignoring all of the other tracks on the CD, I popped the disc in and immediately tracked to "...Children...", and sure enough it was the same song. The singer had a much lower range than Mike Tramp, and the feel of the song was a bit grungier than the original, but it was still the same song, and I found myself liking the approach the band had taken. Also, being a huge fan of the Christian hard rock/metal sub-genre, and owning every Stryper, Whitecross, Guardian, and Skillet CD out there, I was also appreciative of the message the band delivered on the rest of the album (once I got around to listening to it), and I mentally filed the band away as one that I'd check out further at some point.
Flash forward to 2017, and I am still a fan of the Christian hard rockers, having seen them in concert a couple of times and getting the chance to meet them, as well. I pretty much own the band's catalog (minus their first couple of very hard to come by independent releases), and have been generally pleased with the majority of the band's output through the years (you can read reviews of We Are The Broken and Redline).
Found is the band's first full-length release in over five years, and one that finds the band doing what they do best, wrapping solid hard-but-radio accessible rockers around a couple of emotional ballads, challenging listeners to dig deep inside themselves to work through questions of self-worth, pain, faith, and redemption. Never shying away from their faith, Seventh Day Slumber has always delivered a powerful message with powerful music, and Found is certainly not the exception.
The album kicks off in fine fashion with the hard-driving "Sky Is Falling", which features a nice guitar hook from Holderman right out of the gate, a solid bass line from Reed, and the smooth, emotion-laced tenor of Rojas, all of which have been trademarks of the band for several albums now. What is new, however, is the strong drum performance of Blaise Rojas, who took over the drummer's seat on Redline, and who showcases solid musical growth throughout Found. On "Sky Is Falling", the strength of the drums is evident right from the start, and the younger Rojas finds himself perfectly in the mix of the track, not only as the timekeeper for the band, but as an interesting part of the listening experience. It's nice to hear that he is allowed to expand past the simplistic rhythms and patterns frequently utilized by younger musicians.
"Horizon" finds the band slipping into a bit more melodic territory, while still maintaining an upbeat rock tempo. Solid backing vocals add to the depth here, and I'm betting this track will find itself on the radio in the near future, as well as in the band's setlist for shows. The track flows very well with an easy-to-sing chorus, but I do wish Holderfield's guitar had been given the chance to voice a nice, melodic solo somewhere between chorus sections on this song about persisting through the hard times and not taking your eyes off the Prize.
The album's lead single is also the title track, and "Found", the song, is a powerful example of Rojas laying himself bare emotionally. The singer says the song is one that really touches him deeply when he performs it, and it is definitely one that many people will likely identify with when they hear it. Seamlessly melding in a section of "The Old Rugged Cross", "Found" is one of the better ballads the band has ever put on an album, in my opinion, and is likely to be one of the biggest Christian rock hits of 2017.
Back-to-back tracks ramp the album back up into hard rocking territory, with "Sins Of Our Fathers" and "Heart On My Sleeve". Both are excellent rockers, and "Heart...", in particular, really gives Holderfield a chance to shine on a muscular solo that fights its way to the forefront before the final, catchy chorus section kicks in. Really good stuff here on both of these tracks that are guaranteed to please fans of the hard-edged tracks from We Are The Broken or Redline, or for fans of the gritty radio rock put out by bands like Skillet and Thousand Foot Krutch.
Things slow back down a bit with consecutive ballads, the piano-based "Mercy Meets My Pain", and the more power ballad-styled, "Til The End". While neither is a bad song, by any stretch, placing them sequentially, and just a couple of songs separated from "Found", kind of bogs the album down a touch here, and I probably would have moved "Til The End"...well...toward the end of the record, just for pacing reasons. In fairness, I really like "Til The End", and it holds a great message of redemption, with a chorus of "tomorrow you will wake up, its another day of, mercies that will never end...", while also encouraging the listener to "let go of the past, let go of those ways, let go of all the anger, all of the mistakes". A great message, just perhaps placed in a bad spot, tempo-wise.
Once again, the rock returns with "Tomorrow Breaks (Into The Fire)", which is one of the top four songs on the record, without question. One of the true strengths of this band, for me, has always been the way Joseph can just glide his tenor across a pretty hard rocking track like this one with seemingly no strain or effort at all, but without compromising the grit necessary to maintain the edginess of the track. Holderfield can be heard constantly churning in the background with some really good rhythm work, and Reed weaves a pulsing bass thread throughout the track. Good, good stuff.
"Fallen" continues the rock assault, and I wish the record had closed with this track, just to leave me with a fist in the air moment. Understandably, however, the band chooses to close with the praise and worship-styled "My Last Words". A track which I would call an "uptempo ballad", if that makes sense, "My Last Words" features some nice string work, acoustic rhythm guitars...and...do I hear a slide guitar, also(?)...on a track that bears a strong resemblance to "Found" as far as tempo goes. I could see CCM stations picking up on this track in a big way, while rock stations may pass it over in favor of the grittier material on this record.
I'm not going to deny I'm always a fan of the harder material, regardless of the band, and the case is no different with Found. This new album has plenty of those hard-edged moments, and while they don't do anything to really push the boundaries of what 7DS is known for, I don't think they need to, either. After all, Seventh Day Slumber has always been about the message, with the way that message is delivered being a secondary concern. Thankfully, the band continues to deliver that message in a way that this old rocker can really appreciate and rock out with, while also sharing it with the next generation of rockers coming up in my household!
Rating: A solid album throughout, with several punchy rockers for the listener to chew on, while absorbing the positive messages of the slower moments. Well-written, nicely produced and skillfully performed, crank this to a 7.5!