Sunday, September 20, 2020

RELENT "Heart Attack"


(c) 2020 Rockfest Records

  1. Six Feet Under Me
  2. Changed
  3. Rise
  4. Without You
  5. Send A Miracle
  6. Addicted
  7. Surrendered
  8. Low
  9. Jesus Freak

Ah, Nu-Metal.  If there has ever been a more maligned sub-genre of heavy metal, I don't know what it was, and, to a degree, I get it.  Once Korn broke big, bands started to try to take elements of that band's sound and formula and recreate the magic.  The problem was that in doing so, Nu-Metal copied itself so much in the late 90s/early 2000s that it imploded in exactly the same manner that hair metal did in the early 90s.  There was just so little originality left in the genre, and as a result very few bands from that once thriving scene managed to survive.

But, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV), "all things have become new" and Nu-Metal has started to re-emerge in the modern hard rock scene, albeit with some much-needed upgrades to production and a more intense focus on quality songwriting (thankfully!).  One of the bands I am expecting big things from in this updated scene is San Antonio's own Relent.  Wait...did I just suggest a new Christian band could make an impact on the current musical scene?  I did, indeed, and there is zero doubt that Relent fits the bill for the style of band that the modern hard music scene is hungry for, and the reissued edition of their debut EP, Heart Attack, is exactly the vehicle to introduce this extremely talented band!  
Recently signed to Rockfest Records, Relent has just dropped the revamped version of Heart Attack, complete with new artwork and two new songs, stretching the EP from seven tracks to a nearly full album of nine songs.  

The album kicks off with a flurry of crunch and grind from the rhythm guitars in that stop-start chugging fashion so many of the 90s heavy rock bands used, accompanied by a bit more bass than a lot of people may be expecting.  The drums are hard-hitting as well, and from the get go it is evident Relent is out to do something most bands are not doing today with their style and sound.  Miggy's vocals are going to draw a huge amount of attention throughout the record, as there is a definite style similarity to that of Lajon Witherspoon from Sevendust, most of which is derived from the soulful delivery utilized, as well as the ability to both add and subtract a gritty edge when the song calls for it.  From the first note he sang, it was obvious to me that Miggy was going to be a big draw for me with Relent.  

Anyone who says they don't hear bits of Korn in the next track, "Changed", has likely never actually heard 90s-era Korn.  The spoke rap section that intros the song just reeks of something that Jonathan Davis would work into a song, and Miggy absolutely nails the delivery here!  The bass is thick and rumbling beneath the entire track, and the quirky rhythm guitar line here is top shelf stuff!  There are some swirling lead guitars thrown into the discordant mix here and a sick breakdown, just for good measure!  A song about true change from within, "Changed" is blistering nu-metal track that has a little bit of everything good about that style, along with some more modern elements...especially in the update the sound in great fashion.  Definitely one of my favorites here.

While "Low" is the current single (more on that in a bit), I think "Rise" has to be strongly considered for the next track to impact radio.  Once again, while the music is perfectly filled with chugging riffs and thundering drums, it is Miggy that steals the show with his vocal prowess.  Bordering on rap-styled vocals on the second verse, Miggy also delivers that Sevendust-inspired, edge-laden crooning style that just demands to be listened to!  Another excellent track to start the record that will likely have most listeners completely hooked by now.

Miggy is likely at his most aggressive on the next track, "Without You", as his aggro-vocals take on an almost bestial snarl in places, especially when ripping through the words "why?!" and "try" on the pre-chorus sections.   A song asking Christ "where would I be without You?", this is a perfect example of the band not watering down their faith in the lyrics and also remaining just as uncompromising in the aggression of the track's music and performance.

Introduced by Miggy singing the song's title in acapella fashion, "Send A Miracle" features the most punishing breakdown of the record, with Miggy imploring the band to hit the listeners with a "Faith Bomb" multiple times, and this track is pure Sevendust...and God...worship, which I dig in a big way!  Truly excellent stuff on this track that I find myself hitting repeat on numerous times when it comes up.

"Addicted" is another track that I believe has single written all over it.  Featuring some computer-enhanced synth vocals along with a rap section and yet another brutal breakdown, "Addicted" should be all over both Christian and secular modern rock stations the second it is released.

"Surrendered" finds Miggy singing that "on my knees I find my place, at Your feet I give You praise" as he tells a personal tale of surrendering to his Creator, with the most metallic rhythm riffing of the record accompanying him.  Pure intensity fuels the verse sections of this punishing track, while a more melodic approach is used in the choruses, with Miggy again adopting a Witherspoon approach to his soaring, power-filled approach to singing.  Some electronic elements fill in what musical gaps may exist in this dense song, and I would anticipate metal stations may snap this song up even if it is never dropped as a single.    

The last two tracks here are the new additions to Heart Attack.  "Low" is the current single and it has been blasting its way across multiple playlists and charts, Christian and secular alike, garnering airplay on terrestrial radio stations, as well as Octane on the satellite, and TheBlast.FM and ChristianHardRock.Net on the Web!  Tackling depression and addiction, "Low" has enjoyed a huge amount of success at Christian radio, and has also crossed over to Octane on SiriusXM.  Heck, it has even been re-released in Spanish form.  With a big bottom end, both clean and aggro vocals, and some serious crunch to the guitars, "Low" is a great indicator of what to expect from Relent and the rest of the Heart Attack release.

The album rounds out with an interesting song choice, as the band tackles one of the more popular Christian hard rock tracks of the past couple of decades in DC Talk's "Jesus Freak".  Let's be honest; deciding to take on a track with that much popularity takes a level of confidence a lot of bands don't possess...and rightfully so!  Relent, however, not only takes the track on headfirst, they aren't afraid to experiment a bit and make the track their own.  For starters, the Relent version is noticeably heavier and down-tuned, bringing out an angrier, darker tone.  The bass is aggressive here, and the guitars have a bottom-end crunch that wasn't present in the 90's hard-edged alt rock style that DC Talk utilized.  Another thing that will immediately catch people is the slight change in the delivery of the lyrics in the chorus.  So catchy and so sing-along is the song that people are invariably going to jump in and join the band, but when Miggy stretches the word "they" a bit, everyone that is singing along will already be onto the word "hear" already.  I know I was!   There are a couple of other minor differences here and there, but not to the point the song is unrecognizable and fans of the DC Talk version will likely enjoy this take, as well, though there is no doubt that Relent's version is definitely the heavier, more aggressive version by a good stretch.   

As much as I hate it when people say, "such and such band is the Christian version of so-and-so", it is going to be very obvious that Relent is heavily influenced by my favorite Nu-Metal band, Sevendust, and elements of P.O.D., Pillar, and even a little bit of Korn filter through the mix.  Never, however, do you feel like you are listening to a knock-off band, however, as Relent is a band all their own, with an approach that will have fans instantly fist-pounding and head-banging along!  To drop a likely over-used pun, Relent is absolutely relentless in their approach, both musically and lyrically, leaving no doubt as to what they are about.  

Rating:  Oh so crankable...and so difficult to pry out of my player!  Crank that dial to 9!

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