- All Powerful
- I Choose
- Nothing to Lose
- But Apathy
- All That Fell
- It is Well
Day of Vengeance returns for their third formal effort with Star Breather. Star Breather is described by the band themselves as, “Combining just the right amount of heartwarming melody and harmony with strategically placed brutal breakdowns, designed to make people move on the inside and on the outside.”
So, let’s eat the elephant in the room first. As you can see, the review score is a 2. Through IVM’s extremely logical scoring system, this does not mean “terrible,” but “below average.” And I’ll admit right up front, I wrestled with giving this score. You see a 3 would have been just as easy to select and would not breed any controversy amongst those who know that DOV has a lot to offer. But my role as a reviewer is not to provide “safe” reviews that will never ruffle feathers, but to give a slightly educated opinion on a piece of artistic material as it sits in a comparable genre. The joy of the social internet age, however is that my score will not mean as much as the aggregate score that sits next to it, and the comments section gives you a chance to explain where I got it right or wrong.
There are two primary reasons for my scoring. First of all, as I listened to the album I found myself constantly being reminded of other bands. At various points through the album I would find myself being reminded of some of Mark Solomon’s vocals in his Stavesacre days. Similarly, I would suddenly find certain songs reminding me of some older No Innocent Victim pieces. Alternately the gang vocals and overall tone immediately brought to mind Sleeping Giant. And for no good reason I kept thinking of Extol the whole time I was listening to this album. Whether or not this is intentional, a stylistic choice, or mere happenstance… or even fair; the truth of the matter is I found myself spending more time playing the “what does this remind me of” game than I did being drawn in by a unique piece of artistry. Fair or not, the album suffered in my eyes from “death by comparison.”
Secondly, while several tracks on this album are very impressive, after a few listens to the overall album I found my interest declining. Star Breather is far from a bad album by any stretch, but it also didn’t really make me hungry for more. And while a handful of tracks did pique my interest, somehow the overall experience wore on me much more quickly than I would expect from a band of this caliber with such a powerful message and passionate delivery.
Alright, now that we’re over that, let’s talk about this album. Star Breather does have some good things going for it. As the band notes of their sound, it does incorporate elements of clean melody, guttural vocals, and some well placed gang vocals. Much of this is par for the course in the overall music scene today. The more guttural vocals fit right in with bands like War of Ages and the use of gang vocals and overall spiritual tone often bring to mind the tone and stylings of Sleeping Giant. One place where the band clearly stands out is in DOV’s clean vocals, which have a more distinct pitch than is often the case in this genre. All in all, not a bad mixture. However, I really didn’t feel like the cleans and the lows mixed together well across several of the tracks.
In songs where they are effective, such as “I Choose,” magic happens. That said, I felt like certain songs would have been better if either the cleans or the lows were present in the song, but not both. While neither style of vocals in themselves were ever really sub-par, the mixture of the two just didn’t seem to mesh as well as it should at times. Maybe that’s just me?
In terms of the message and theology of the work, DOV is to be admired. DOV is not afraid to boldly proclaim the message of the Savior first and foremost. Even the overall imagery of the album points to a God that is so huge He literally breathed the stars into existence. When it comes to both the overall message of the album and the individual message of each song, expect to find deep streams of living waters flowing throughout this album.
On top of this, the lyrics really are solid. The best overall descriptions would have to be bold, direct, and passionate. One line that particularly encapsulates this boldness states, “We are an undead army. Nothing can kill the deceased. And we will stop at nothing, until the world is brought to its knees.” In every way the lyrics across the entire album point to the conquering King who cannot be defeated and challenge the listener to embrace Him passionately.
In this regard, the album begins and ends with a worshipful gaze into the eyes of the loving Savior. “Majesty,” one of the stronger tracks, opens the album by painting a picture of the Coming King whose intimate presence will cause every tongue to confess “holy is the Lord God almighty.” The closing track “It is Well” is a popular worship song which has been covered by many great bands and brings this passion full circle as it reflects on how God’s majesty and power brings peace to the souls of His beloved children.
With such passion and power, the album’s message is solid, driven, and impacting. This alone gives Star Breather the potential to be well-liked by many. That said, my position on the musical element of the album still stands.
Overall: Star Breather is a mixed bag. The album itself has some great standout songs, such as “I Choose,” “Nothing to Lose,” and “Majesty.” In addition to this, the theology, song writing, and passion on the album are admirable and well executed. That being said, while the various vocal stylings are impassioned and skillful, something about the way they interacted together on this album just didn’t seem to work as it should have. The overall result of this is that the album begins to wear down a bit after repeated listens. But that’s just my take, so be sure to rate the album for yourself, and sound off in the comments section with thoughts of your own!
RIYL: Sleeping Giant, Fallstar, From the Eyes of Servants.