Artist: Declaration AD
Release Date: 01/10/13
- Voices (Feat Sam Crocker of Antagonist AD)
- Talking Past Each Other
- Something to Someone
For the last decade or two, New Zealand has been on the world’s radar due to what ScreenJunkies has lovingly called Peter Jackson’s eleven hour tourism commercial (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). For the last couple years, Declaration AD has been working hard to make NZ famous for at least one more thing; great faith-based hardcore. After unleashing I Can’t Ignore upon the world just about one year ago, the guys from (what is apparently) one of the most beautiful places on earth are back with Voices.
In talking with Sam Coates, he described Voices as “loosely conceptual, revolving around the idea of the voices that we let into our lives, and the voice that we put back out there into the world.” Voices is five tracks of powerful hardcore that (as Brandon pointed out in his humorous tags) would fit in nicely with a label like Facedown records. Stylistically, Dec AD sticks to what I’m simply calling “punk infused” hardcore. This is not metal core, melodic hardcore, death metal or any of its variations. It’s that sort of raw vocal style that would fit equally well in a punk song… but just happens to be situated in the midst of heavy guitars and blasting drums.
Voices begins with the title track. One of the heavier songs on the album, “Voices” sets a powerful tone for the rest of the EP. If I had to pick a sound closest to it, I’d say it was mildly in the vein of In the Midst of Lions. As the title track, “Voices” introduces the theme of the album (poignantly visualized with the cover art) of these dissonant voices that crowd our lives with noise. Getting right into it, the song begins with the line, “the voices are mixing and blurring, but a whisper as they start inching their way inside my mind, but now they’re all too loud and I’m drowned out in the whitewash.”
“Talking Past Each Other” follows by featuring some great drum work and quick guitars. Vocally, this is pure HXC with passionate semi-melodic deep vocals. The shortest song on the EP, “Talking Past Each Other” examines how we try to crowd out one another with our “battle(s) for public opinion” and trying to push our own views on others. Despite its brief run time, this song is a great highlight of the strong writing on this album. Lyrics such as, “arguments are primed with the precision of a shotgun because it’s better as a sound-bite over honest, civil interaction” prove that Voices isn’t just ear-candy, it has some real meat to chew on.
“Something to Someone” continues to deepen the lyrical treasures found on this album. Focusing on the trap our world falls into in seeking to attain fame over character (a theme Project 86 addresses with “Fame is Infamy” and through Andrew’s books), “Something to Someone” becomes a counter cultural battle cry. Through the same intense vocals mixed with some fresh gang vocals, this track acknowledges the problem but focuses on the solution. Echoing Philippians 3:8, the message screams forth, “I know the fear of being forgotten. I need to be something to someone. I crave to be more than a footnote in history. And though the world may forget my name, my Lord will call me as His own. So take the fame and its fickle fancy, I count it nothing.”
“Endure” starts off brutal and doesn’t let up. The message follows “Something to Someone” in praying for the boldness to endure the voices of this world while seeking God through the distortion. The clincher to the song sums up the battle Dec AD is asking the listener to face by screaming to God, “Take my fear. Take my pain. Take my doubt. They are Yours, I will endure.” As with “Talking Past Each Other,” “Endure” is a very brief track, but it certainly packs quite a punch into under three minutes.
Just as quickly and brutally as Voices begins, so it concludes with “Tomorrow.” Where the first three tracks introduce the problem of the voices we face in this world, “Tomorrow” closes the experience out with a full fledged challenge to stand up and change. Here Sam (and some gang vocals) charge forward shouting, “I cannot stay in this place and do nothing. I have to move, to stay here is to die…With every choice I will change. I won’t fall in line with what’s expected of me. With. Every. Choice.”
Overall: As a message, Voices speaks loudly. As a hardcore album, it doesn’t disappoint. With skillful musicianship and passionate vocals, Declaration AD has a voice worth listening to. Unfortunately, just as you’ve found yourself fully immersed in the experience presented, it’s over. With two tracks under three minutes long and the rest clocking in just a smidge longer than that, the whole EP is done in around fifteen minutes. Luckily, that fifteen minutes leaves you wanting more.
RIYL: No Innocent Victim, Take it Back, See the Light