Album Review :
Essentials - Trials

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Artist: Essentials
Title: Trials EP
Label: unsigned
Release Date: 06/14/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan


  1. Counterfeit
  2. Relentless
  3. Stand Apart
  4. Selah
  5. Vanity
  6. Wretched


Sometimes a band comes along and produces a sound that just fits your ear perfectly. When that event occurs, its a wonderful reminder of why I love music so much, and why this particular art form moves me so powerfully. So, when I began to really give the hardcore band Essentials an honest listen, that phenomenon once again materialized. Their new EP “Trials” takes true rawness and grit, then bundles it all together with a load of heart and passion. I was hooked almost immediately by the melodic grooves, the way tempos rise and fall, and the shear determination in the vocals. What maybe surprised me the most, was not only is this record filled with blistering riffs and pounding drums, but it also found time to be downright worshipful in certain moments.

Right off the bat, opener “Counterfeit” begins with a slower chunky guitar riff, until halfway into the verse when the cadence explodes into a rocking headbanger. The theme of the tune reminds me of the scripture in Matthew 6:24 were Jesus tells us that you can not serve two masters, you can’t serve both God and money. It seems every instrument has its own place on this album, the mix really allows for the music to breath, not overly done in any way.

“Relentless” gets going quickly with an opening drum pickup, which then transitions into raucous, heavy guitars that drop in like a bomb. Bringing out the idea of how people want to preach tolerance, until you disagree with them. Everybody talks about having an open mind and considering different points of view, but if you bring a legitimate idea that is contrary to their beliefs or values, then you are met with great resistance and even sometimes violence.

The rocking pace continues through the first half of the next track, “Stand Apart.” Encouraging the believer to truly stand out from the darkness this world holds, and be something different. Even with this call for holiness, the writer gives the clear impression that this is not an easy thing, and we need God’s help to accomplish this. I love how toward the end of this tune the tempo drops out and changes completely, then melds into the instrumental “Selah.” I don’t know that I have ever heard guitar distortion sound so worshipful. Well executed and awe-inspiring for sure.

The band picks things back up with a bruising groove, and crying out the song’s namesake phrase found in Ecclesiastes, shouting “Vanity, Oh Vanity! Everything is Vanity!” Driving home the point that, of course, without God, life is utterly absurd. Also, the fact that people who attempt to find meaning in the naturalist viewpoint will just end up living in total emptiness. Great tune.

Finishing things off, “Wretched” uses crunching rhythms and a nice mix of shouting, screaming and even some clean singing. Lyrically, you get the idea that the writer is coming to grips with his own sinful nature, which can’t be trusted. He then calls upon God as his only hope for a clean heart. An honest tune that speaks to that struggle and realizing we would all fall short if not for Christ.

Overall: As stated in the opening paragraph, this record really resonated with me. From the no-frills, organic sound, to the powerful, faith filled themes, this EP is a home run for me. If you are a fan of heavy music, I would encourage you to give this album a listen. Although it may not strike you in the same way it did me, I would still contend there is definently something here. I will be awaiting any news of a full length soon from these guys in the near future. Enjoy.

RIYL: Staple, Conveyer, Torn