Artist: Beware the Neverending
Title: Times of War
Label: Red Cord
Release Date: 03/18/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan
- Pride of Sanity
- Times of War
- Iron Giants
- Zero to Nothing
- Repercussions of Destroying a Pearl
- Angry Little Boy
- Fare Hiroshima
- Black Rain
- Our Arrogance
- Consequences Become Graves
- The Phoenix Cry
A subject that takes on as many different meanings, contexts, and perspectives as there are people to ponder and discuss it’s very nature. Is it unavoidable? Is it a necessary evil that is just part of life? Are there no other ways to resolve conflicts? There are wars that sometimes we do not start, but seem to inevitably find ourselves smack dab in the middle of. True, it can be a substantial topic to cover. There are heroes, enemies, armies, battles, weapons, surrender, and ultimate victory. It is this type of imagery and focus that is covered in the new album, “Times of War” by Red Cord metalcore group, Beware the Neverending. It not only speaks directly on the subject lyrically, but it also sounds like it. A concept album of sorts, it does a wonderful job of drawing battle lines and crossing over to a more spiritual meaning that we all should be able to relate to. No matter the conflict we are engaged in, this record serves as a reminder that with God with us, we do have the ultimate weapon and the victory has already been won.
Now I know there are a ton of bands that always say their new record is going to sound different, or it’s going to be on the cutting edge of something new musically. The “Dirty South Bounce” sound, as they describe it on their Facebook page, actually does differentiate itself in the genre, in my opinion. It strips out a lot of the “chaotic” element and replaces it with a more organized pounding rhythm section that drives the sound in a steady, more methodical way. Yes there are still breakdowns, thundering drums and the guitars turn groovy at times, but overall, it’s more stable and unwaveringly brutal. Personally, I find the overall sound does a nice job of bolstering the substance of not only the foundation of the record musically, but fits in nicely with the theme of the work.
The first tune “Pride Over Sanity” begins with the words of former President Harry Truman. “It is an awful responsibility which has come to us. We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.” This is from a speech he gave in 1945, as Americans are coming to grips with the great responsibility of possessing and using the atomic bomb for the first time. There are a few standout tracks on the record, and I consider this to certainly be one of them. It sets the tone and theme lyrically, and is pulse pounding from beginning to end.
The title track continues on with the struggle, basically engaging the devil in a conversation of sorts. The song encourages us to take solace in knowing that we have an advocate fighting for us. The vocals truly shine here, and the talent of lead singer Bobby Stratton is quite evident. From guttural lows to screeching higher moments the vocals are a strong point not only of this song, but of “Times of War” as a whole.
Songs such as “Kamikaze”,“Iron Giants“ and Farewell Hiroshima” continue the tie-in from the actual WWII enemies (in this case, Imperial Japan). “Iron Giants” is a call for us to stand up in the face of fear, even when the odds are seemingly against us. “Behold the pride of the rising sun/All powerful and never faltering/We stand like iron giants its us against the world/Let’s take to the sky/This time we will take the fight to them.” The last line of that verse is no doubt a direct reference to the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Then with the chorus of , “With all our hearts we take to the sky/with all our souls we take to sky.” brings it all back to the idea of giving it our all, including our own lives if need be. Check out the lyric video for “Iron Giants” here. I must say at this point however, that the songs in the middle portion of the album do tend to bleed into one another, and you may not even know the song has changed unless you are paying attention to the track listing. Lack of musical variety is definitely a down side in that section of the record.
Featuring, what I believe to be, some of the more intricate guitar work on the album, “Black Rain” kicks off with some echoing, sharp chugging guitar sounds. It’s a very dark song that refers to the radioactive black rain that was observed coming down after the bombing of Hiroshima. Horrific stuff to think about, for sure. “Our Arrogance” brings about some electronic elements in the introduction, then the stomping commences. A solid tune that slips in some nice grooves throughout as well. “Consequences Become Graves” is the really last full on tune, it is also one of my favorites. Confirming that even though we are unworthy on our own, God gave the ultimate sacrifice of his only Son to make us worthy. The final track “The Phoenix Cry” is really just a postlude track which is mostly a recording from Robert Oppenheimer, who was an American physicist and the scientific director of the Manhattan project. It then finishes up with the Truman quote from the opening song to finish it out.
Overall: No doubt, BtE has created an interesting, hard pounding piece of musical art. Any fan of the genre should have no issues getting into the record. Except for the issue of a few songs sounding a little to similar, it’s hard to find a lot of faults here. Lyrically, even with all the WWII and atomic bomb imagery, it does seem the band successfully is able to make the spiritual war connection with no problem. “Times of War” forges both horrific themes and concepts, and maybe the point is to relate to the wars that wage within all of us. Wars that we can’t win on our own merit, but only through trusting in the Almighty.
RIYL: Those Who Fear, As Hell Retreats, Gideon