Artist: Beautiful Eulogy
Title: Instruments of Mercy
Label: Humble Beast Records
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Reviewer: Jessica Cooper
- Cello From Portland
- Vital Lens
- Exile Dial Tone
- The Size Of Sin
- You Can Save Me
- Instruments Of Mercy
- Symbols And Signs
- Blessed Are The Merciful
- Release Me From This Snare
- Organized Religion
- According To God
- Raise The Bridge
- The Size Of Grace
- Acquired In Heaven
When it was announced that Beautiful Eulogy was working on a new project, there was a brief moment when I thought it couldn’t possibly top their first release, Satellite Kite. But considering who these guys are and what they’re capable of, that moment exited my mind just as quickly as it entered. Anticipation welled up, and here I am to try to serve Instruments of Mercy some justice. The Triumphant Trio of Christian Hip Hop – Braille, Odd Thomas, and Courtland Urbano – has done it again.
If you were a fan of Satellite Kite, you’ll immediately recognize Urbano’s beat stylings in the first track, “Cello From Portland”. It’s instrumental, with a few vocals, all-new organic sounds of rain and chirping birds, and the delayed ambient chime of an electric guitar. As the song progresses, the jangly beat of a tambourine enters the scene, and then the cadence of a kick drum and rim clicks. Harmonies repeat:
“This is who we are, DESPERATE / This is what we need, MERCY.”
Next is the first single off Instruments of Mercy, “Vital Lens”. It was introduced online with this video that features broken shots and split screens, unfocused and sharp quality frames, in a warehouse with foreground and background placement of the guys much like SK’s “Entitlement” video. The song speaks of humility in the desire to present the Gospel to believers and nonbelievers alike, using the clarity of displaying the glory of God through words of truth and personal revelation. “Vital Lens” is laden with bass tones heavy enough to rattle all the way into your head, and features more dripping, trickling sounds of water as well as the gentility of a wind chime.
“Because His character and nature can never be known through natural revelation / Or shown through random acts or figments of your imagination / We the Beautiful Eulogy attempt to communicate audibly and visually / To help you hear and see the glory of God clearly.”
The second verse of this song is where the concept of the whole album first takes its identity. It reveals the mercy of God in the example of the life of the speaker as well as in the act of Christ dying for the sins of mankind.
“We received His revelation so we reflect it when we breathe / And the concepts we conceive are born of spiritual seed / Manifest in the material realm as musical composition / The rhythm of heartbeats transformed by the Gospel and Godly wisdom / I’m an instrument of His mercy, unworthy but still He uses me / The beauty of the eulogy through His death we are truly free.”
The third track “Exile Dial Tone” is a bass-driven track as well, with a spacey loop that sounds like an alien aircraft, razzy synth, and more wind chime tings. Braille’s vocals seem to make any of their songs more intense and blunt, because of the way he delivers the lyrics; they hit in specific points with Urbano’s beats and create a greater impact in sound. “Exile Dial Tone” speaks of the issues with Christians trying to relate to audiences more than trying to spread the Gospel, creating a culture of acceptance and relevance rather than of mercy and love. Beautiful Eulogy stresses the importance of unity in the body of Christ, and stands against the idea of faith being a popularity contest:
“So no matter how you paint it or politically campaign it / Whether you water it down and drain it / It’s really all the same ain’t it? / It’s the same frustration, same constant segregation / Christians living like aliens trying to relate with citizens of a different nation / What always makes for a better presentation than bark and bite / Is a proper understanding of living a life filled with salt and light.”
“The Size of Sin” confronts the lie that Christians often believe about whether or not one sin is worse than another, when the truth is that sin is all the same in God’s eyes. We lead ourselves out of repentance and away from mercy when we begin to question if stealing is worse than murder.
“A just judge must summons for infinite punishment / And when applying we’re undeniably liable / The smallest white lie is enough to be indictable / The size of sin is so big it causes a cosmic fraction / And hell is the only relevant response to righteous reaction / This is what our sinful actions actually earned us / But God took upon himself the weight of sin reserved for us / A weight so significant that only the blood of an innocent one is acceptable and worthy / So rather than make light of it, or minimize the size of it / We should marvel at the magnitude of His mercy.”
“You Can Save Me” presents a lot of questions that are often asked as a result of so many different claims to truth in the world, and arrives at the one Truth: that God is the one true God, and Jesus is the one true way to Him.
”So God in the second person of the trinity permanently purchases / With a perfect purpose and a death of an infinite worth / Raising from the earth to assert certain prophetic words / Serving as a legal substitution to completely reverse the curse / Earnestly pursuing love to fulfill the Father’s work / His design to save is the graciousness of His greatness / Salvation plays the center stage for the rock of ages / And by trusting in His unblemished blood we become blameless / And become pardoned for our sin because God alone can save us.”
The title track “Instruments of Mercy” blows in next (literally, it has wind in it) with xylophonic tings and acoustic strums and harmonics, hand clacks, and a steady bass thump, and features Hello Abigail on supporting vocals. It displays the whole concept of the entire album in a couple of verses that describe the way the body of Christ should be used as an orchestra, harmonizing and undergoing constant change and improvement for the glory of God’s kingdom.
“I’m an instrument in Your orchestra Lord and You are my only audience / Holding Your promises close and watching as Your plan unfolds / All for Your glory and praise playing the song that You composed / With Your hands, play Your song / Use my life, I’m your instrument / Tune my heart to sing Your song / Use my life, I’m Your instrument.”
What I love most about Instruments of Mercy is that it confronts several issues in Christianity that believers struggle with recognizing. One of those is presented in “Symbols and Signs”, the seventh track on the album. Beautiful Eulogy questions how believers relate their own desires with the will of God, in a very bold, direct manner, attributing what we believe God’s plan is for us to “signs and symbols”. I’m drawn in by the harsh, razzy tones of the synth, bass beats, and rim clicks that fit the gruffness of the song very well. And ya boi Propaganda makes an appearance on this track, so there’s all the justification you need for great hip hop collaboration.
“Are you the kind that’s completely consumed by symbols and signs? / If you are that’s fine, but don’t you find it interesting how most of the time your self-interpreting seems to coincide with what’s deep inside your heart’s desire? / Seems rather convenient, doesn’t it?”
“Blessed are the Merciful” is my favorite (technically) instrumental song, and it builds at a near-perfect progression alongside the intensity of Art Azurdia’s dialogue that’s featured on the track. Here’s an excerpt:
“The evidence of God’s mercy in your life isn’t determined by how much theology you know, by how many books you read, but by your active goodness to people in misery and in need. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Release Me From This Snare” is the psalm of the album, full of desperate pleas inspired by biblical context. Psalms 32 and 139 make an appearance in this track, proclaiming the all-knowing nature of God and the depravity of mankind.
“I acknowledged my sin to You and I did not cover my iniquity / There’s no way to hide from Your all-seeing eyes / You know everything, I can’t tell you a lie / You know my own heart much better than I / You know when I sleep and You know when I rise / You know all the thoughts that go through my mind / From morning to night, every moment of pride // The old will pass away, while I’m still here You hear my prayer / Please, wash my sins away, oh Lord, release me from this snare.”
“Organized Religion” exposes the duality of man in the context of faith and legalism, and portrays the struggles Christians face while walking with God. It speaks of the tongue as a rudder, the speck in the eye of another versus the log in your own, and what goes into your heart having an effect on what comes from your life. It’s fast and jabbery in verse and composition, featuring Jackie Hill and Eshon Burgundy.
“Because here’s the deal / The tongue is small but still it’s strong enough to curse or kill / Destroy or build, sink or stir a ship / Lift up a man, cause a person to trip, hurt or heal // Organize, organize, organize me / If You have my heart, then You have every part of me / What I hear, what I say, what I feel , what I see / If You have my heart, then You have every part of me.”
“According to God” is the voice of all insecurity and misidentification that believers face throughout life, whether defined by circumstance or acceptance.
“According to God, I was called from the darkness into His marvelous light / He is near, to the broken heart, and faithful to finish what He started.”
“The Size of Grace” is a reflection of how man cannot measure the extent of that which we do not deserve, but yet receive – the grace of God.
“The size of grace, how great he size? / The gates of Heaven are open wide! / And people of all kind are welcome inside / Should have been denied but instead God replied / He said, in your place my Son has died / His death gave you life, it’s the size of grace / Innocent blood that was shed to erase / Every trace of sin for a chosen race.”
“Acquired in Heaven” is Beautiful Eulogy’s “Revelation Song”, and the final track on Instruments of Mercy. It’s a sort of liberation from the weight of the rest of the album, allowing an opportunity to dwell on the goodness of God and His mercy as our Father. Just as they did with “Beautiful Eulogy” on Satellite Kite, Beautiful Eulogy closes Instruments of Mercy with a declaration of praise and adoration.
“Where God will be seen through purified eyes / Purged from the sin that blinded us from viewing God, glorified / Where love will be expressed with perfect affection / Until then, we will wait with expectation for all that we will acquire in Heaven.”
Overall: All of Instruments of Mercy is fresh in sound, featuring loops of new beats and sounds that stick to the lyrics like glue. Beautiful Eulogy continues to be consistent in their collaborative works and are undoubtedly blessed with the words and musical talent to produce something that’s cohesive, poetic, and undeniably beautiful from beginning to end. If you enjoy any one of their individual projects, there’s no logical explanation for why Instruments of Mercy wouldn’t be in your hip hop collection. It’s powerful, creative, dynamic, and contains the fingerprints of three men who were ordained for a specific purpose. I can see this release making huge waves in the world of music, and have no reservations in recommending it to anyone with the attention span to read everything I just wrote. Seriously, it’s amazing. And now it’s free on Humble Beast. Do yourself and favor and get your hands on this.
RIYL: Braille, Odd Thomas, beat mixing, everything awesome