Album Review :
Nate Parrish - Soul Surgery

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Release Date: April 8th, 2022

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  1. Purpose in Pain
  2. Nostalgia
  3. Attention Junkies
  4. Soul Surgery
  5. Life in Dissonance
  6. Religion of Relevance
  7. Death by Self Preservation
  8. Bullets and Blades
  9. God Knows (Ft. David Bunton of The Showdown)
  10. Cemetery Life
  11. I Can’t Be What You Want
  12. Jaded
  13. In The Storm (Ft. Thomas Freckleton)
  14. This Is WHo We Are

Nate Parrish creates music unlike the majority of “popular”, “mainstream”, “indie”, and/or “punk” bands of today. He takes his years of experiences, wraps them up in a 14 song epic arrangement, and unleashes it on a weary music scene ripe for hope and change. From the artwork to the song choices, you can’t help but feel the music running through your body and infecting you with nothing but pure positivity. I liken the music of Nate Parrish to music of yesteryear that spoke truth without boundaries and shared honesty in ways most of the modern day brethren are too afraid to venture out into. This album, “Soul Surgery” is one of my favorite straight up “punk” music releases of 2022 and the best new Rock record of this year. You fans of Face to Face, The Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music, Social Distortion, Make Do and Mend, and maybe a little Rise Against should pay special close attention. With that said, let’s discuss the album now.

The album begins with “The Purpose of Pain” and is quite the mighty opener. Both lyrically and musically, this song wears its heart on the sleeves. Nate conveys emotions and the weight of pain that sometimes creeps it’s way into our lives, sometimes chasing away the hope but ultimately helping us grow and find out who we are. Musically, it is a definitely fast paced punk rock song, not all that far off from a say Face to Face, Hot Water Music, or Rise Against, but completely staying true to the music he creates and carving out a completely original place. This is a solid introduction to the album and I dig the hopeful message.

I’m searching for synergy to balance my biology,
the head and the heart in equal parts
A shift in perspective, keep my thoughts reflective,
And eyes on the horizon
Humanity in entropy is bleeding me of empathy
God knows I need soul surgery
I’d never choose these choices, but bitterness is poisonous,
So I seek the seed hidden in the dirt
Sometimes there’s sunshine, sometimes there’s rain
We grow from both just the same
We brave the night, while we wait for the day
Finding the purpose in pain

“Nostalgia” is the 2nd track and again, a solid song. The song lyrically is built around the concept that many of still grip on to that fleeting nostalgic feelings that sometimes cloud our thinking and prevent us from moving forward in life. This song too is an explosive punk rock jam with Nate’s gritty yet melodic voice shining through alongside some very catchy and melodic sounds. The soaring chorus draws you in and wipes away any bad taste from punk missteps you have have experienced in the past that leaves a stale taste in your mouth. I can’t help but sing along.

We’ve all lost things that we can’t replace
Our memories are a mess. and no one is innocent
We won’t forget but maybe we can forgive
Nostalgia is my favorite drug
Makes the way it is feel like the way it was
There’s joy and pain in every yesterday
Today’s the only day that we can change

The 3rd track is “Attention Junkies” and already this album has become one of my favorites of the year so far. It’s like 3 great songs you can’t help but love. This one begins with punk rock power chords and saxophone. How many punk bands feature a saxophone that aren’t ska based? Not many and this one is so good. Musically it reminds me of some 90’s era/early 00s era punk rawk but with a total original focus. The song tells the story of a piece of our demise as a society. Self focused and narcissistic, gripping our own reflections and self importance before putting the needs of others first. That’s my take and I really have to agree, seeing it clearly in our modern world.

Our new addiction is attention,
We’re all fiends hooked on dopamine
Our vice of choice is, Our own voices
Reactionary vocabulary thrills
Opinions spill like popping pills
Famous in a fantasy
Withdrawn from reality
We’ve become attention junkies now
And We need to get clean

TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and all those influencers, take note. This is a song about fame that overwhelms the senses and leads the watchers to doubt their own realities and purpose for being human in the first place. It’s a shallow facade that cuts deep, leaving the users feeling empty.

Inject myself with everyone else’s life
Hope I don’t overdose before I get this right
Famous in a fantasy
Withdrawn from reality
We’ve become attention junkies
We need to get clean
Can we be seen without a screen?
Do we exist without an audience?
The first step is to admit I’m an addict
With a reflection habit
Inject myself with everyone else’s life
Hope I don’t overdose before I get this right
The pendulum swinging is hypnotizing
As we go from on to the other extreme

The title track “Soul Surgery” is another straight up melodic punk rawk track and I love it. Mixed with an important message about changing who we are from the inside out. We need “soul surgery”, erasing the discontentment and pain of emptiness, the hate bubbling within, replacing it with love and hope. Reminds me of “I’m a Wreck” song and a bit of MxPx “Panic” album, but oh so good and better than all his contemporaries.

Our hands will build what our hearts believe
The way to change is change the way we think
our humanity Is what cuts us deep
So sew us up, soul surgery
You change a man when you change his heart,
you’ll never build better days till you break apart the hate we incubate

“Life in Dissonance” was one of the singles after “God Knows”. It’s a more poppy and melodic number with a strong message about dissent. You hear plenty about “resist” all over the news and on social media but if people would just listen more, read more, discuss more and take the words below to heart, maybe it would open minds. This is a great song and takes sort of an alternative viewpoint from the popular punk bands of today and different than anything “Christian” bands are singing about. Read the words and embrace the sounds, your resistance is in dissonance…

The words you say are ringing in my ears
Duplicity in the frequencies I hear
The underground, is turning upside down, but you can’t hear the sound
Life in dissonance, if you don’t wanna sing along, join me in dissent
Start questioning your ideology
When its aligning with the elite and the talking heads on TV, it’s..
Life in dissonance, if you don’t wanna sing along, join me in dissent
When harmony seems like a stretch, and you don’t wanna sing along,
Join me and defect
You shake your fist at the establishment,
While you cash your checks from Corporate sponsorships.
Your resistance is in dissonance,
as you’ve become the thing you rebel against.

“Religion Of Relevance” was released earlier, the first song alongside “Bullets and Blades” to come from “Soul Surgery”. This song is over the top and relevant to today’s world. It speaks truth in more ways than one and delivers a chilling message that will cut most people to the bone. This song is too good both musically and lyrically so obviously I need to share the whole lyrics with you. This song as it is, is deeply influential and should be heard in all music circles across the globe. It is as important and relevant as it is musically urgent. It’s like that perfect punk/rock song that speaks to millions and makes people think, maybe even debate a bit. You can’t argue the truth here. As a bonus, go listen to the remix version of this song and tell me that unique perspective isn’t as equally powerful. I dare “Christian” radio to play this song and at full volume, and I dare Nashville “Christian” music to take notice.

I find it ironic we don’t consider ourselves religious
when every day we sit and worship our own reflections
We’ll never bend a knee to some unseen deity
But we bow constantly to politicians and celebrities
Let us pray
To the god of Hollywood In you we put our faith
Let us pray
Prophets in Washington teach us to obey
You preach to me on generosity
But your life of excess sending mixed messaging
We gotta save the earth for future generations
But there’s no room for the womb in your safe spaces
Let us pray
To the god of Hollywood In you we put our faith
Let us pray
Prophets in Washington teach us to obey
Walk away
There’s no salvation in Your religion of relevance
Walk away
I have no faith in you and I will not repent
I won’t wear a cross around my neck,
Just a sweatshop logo on my chest
If only we had enough donations to feed the children
We spent it all on pornography and entertainment

Musically, “Death by Self Preservation” is one of my favorite on this record. I know it’s a bit slower but the melodic nature of it and addictive chorus, draws you in. We all lock ourselves away inside and cut ourselves off from an outside world, afraid to be human and make mistakes. The truth here is that we learn by mistakes made. By wallowing in our own safe spaces and padded rooms, we escape the reality outside our own doors. We are locking out emotions and that human experience by binding ourselves to a false pretense of our “safety”. This is another solid song.

No fathers at home, no God in the sky,
Hopes in demand, and we’re the supply
Hold the screen to your eyes, keep your minds pacified,
just stay in your room cause there’s monsters outside
As we drown, in the safe and sound
We finally have peace, just stay in your sleep, It’s BEST for our conservation
Keep your body in bed, keep your thoughts in your head, it’s DEATH by self preservation

“Bullets and Blades” was one of the last “singles” released on Indie Vision Music so basically Nate Parrish single handedly ended the Indie Vision Music label. Heh. Ok not to that extreme of course, it was already waning in that direction shortly before that song release. Sorry for letting everyone down, at a least a couple of you. Anyway, “Bullets and Blades” is also another killer song and I loved it back then just as much as now. The brief saxophone near the end is really cool part of the song and makes this punk sound even more bold. The song is about being used by authorities to achieve goals you may or may not agree with but having no control over. They hold our will over our heads and speak words we didn’t say. Division is single handedly killing our world and it is propagated by our lovely ad-based social media networks and websites. You know it, I know it, the world should know it. We wouldn’t be so angry and politically motivated, a keyboard activist of sorts, had it not been shown to us in a message and clip as an ad/image based upon sales figures and selling more ad space. Think about it for a second and I’ll to refrain from getting all political in a music review but did you get so angry and mad in the early days of the internet most likely pre-social media? Should we blame Tom at Myspace? What about us old folks who grew up with the beginning of the internet. Should we attack AOL and Chat rooms? Is Dial up to blame? You can’t be mad if something isn’t shoved directly in your face 24/7 based upon algorithms and income generated from ad buys. We aren’t mad at the topics we see but we are mad because of how it is served to us. Inciting hate by driving fear based on how much money is generated from these statistics. All these “Popular”, “Mainstream”, “Viral” topics are that way for a reason, because someone or something served it to us an on a hot tasty platter spread with poisonous speech that’ll make us all sick inside just to make a buck. “They divide us, Assign Affiliation, They Claim They Are Just Like Us….”

I’m not your bullet I’m not your blade
Im not marching in Your brigade
I’m not your bullet and I’m not your blade
I’m not a weapon in the war you wage
They divide us
Assign affiliation
They claim they are just like us
The zip codes don’t match up
They light the fuse and then they run

“God Knows” is as truthful as it is musically relevant. This is a different sounding song in the concept of punk rock but definitely charged, passionate, and filled to the brim with explosive melodies. It’s the kind of punk rock you’ve been dying to hear for years. Nate Parrish is a unique songwriter and this song is certainly no exception to that rule. The song features the immense talents of David Bunton on BGVs who is the lead vocalist for none other than heavy metal band – The Showdown, another band that brings it big time! What I get from this song is that we should live according to the word of God finding peace despite our circumstances and the things that bring us down. We buy into things, hoping to change ourselves and make us better when in reality we are let down just as hard. God loves us so much and we can reach to him with 100% certainty knowing he will reach back, giving us hope and understanding. Sometimes it’s not so easy and sometimes (more often than not) life is hard and really SUCKS but God is faithful despite it all and our place in heaven is secure. This is a great song especially during this Easter season. “God Knows I’ve tried to keep this all inside. But God knows it’s time, to take the cross and cross the line….”

God knows I’ve tried, to keep this all inside
But God knows it’s time, to take the cross and cross the line
I was afraid this was all my fault
My sins outweighed the grace of God
You didn’t give me what I want
Like the preachers on tv with the gold rings on
Sometimes we buy a lie on the way to the truth
Sometimes the reason why is never given to you
When your belief doesn’t match your circumstance
When the night feels like it will never end
When human hands are corrupting holy things
Can everything that falls still be redeemed?
He is the author I am just a page
He is the warmth I am just a flame
He is the ocean I am just a wave
I am just a wave

“Cemetery Life” is another great sounding song musically, and I’m drawn to it. The imagery is darker in storytelling and I get a sense of someone being filled with anger and disillusionment about someone passing on but mourning them at the same time. Could be literal, could be figurative, but there is a definite pain reverberating through this song. 10 songs in and I haven’t found one dud at all. [Spoiler alert: There aren’t any duds in any part of “Soul Surgery”, shhhh, don’t tell anyone I said that.]

“I Can’t Be What You Want” takes on a more melancholy feel, kinda giving me Face to Face “Ignorance is Bliss” vibes mixed with some Hot Water Music and even No Use for a Name. Melodic grit vocally mixed with soaring vocals and catchy background harmonies. For whatever its worth, I even hear a slight Ghoti Hook “Two Years to Never” influence though I’m probably alone in that remark. This is a really great song and lyrically, it catches fire. The song is all about making idols out of people and holding them at a higher level than they can stand. Making the artist be more than they can be and passing blame when they can’t meet those unfair standards. Its really a story that rings true for not only this small music scene but an even smaller fragment of Christian music that gets upset at the littlest slip up or misconstrued word or phrase. I’ve been guilty of it too over the past 25 years I’ve worked in this underground music scene, seeing things, hearing things, witnessing things, being disappointed but ultimately realized that a lot of the problems I had weren’t “them”, they were “me”. Great song, Nate!

You talk the talk while I walk away, cause I can’t be what you want
A hero needs a villain to blame, but I won’t be who you want
Burn down these bridges again
Crowns made of ash on our heads
Kingdoms we build out of blame
Castles to keep far away
You talk the talk while I walk away, cause I can’t be what you want
A hero needs a villain to blame, but I won’t be who you want
I can’t be your Jesus on the cross
I won’t be a mouthpiece for your cause
Narrow minds will use the broadest brush
Draw your lines I’ll cross them one by one

The next song is “Jaded” and continues the trend of one hit song after another which is a rare sight in Punk Rock music. There is always at least a little filler in these albums but with this one, I’m not experiencing it. This song begins with a chord, ok now don’t beat me up for this, but it reminds me of MxPx “Whats Mine Is Yours”. I know it probably wasn’t intentional but what if it was and what if it was the most epic tip of the hat to a legendary pop-punk trio who have been around for 30 years? Could it be? Anyway, this song is my jam, for real. Here, Nate is wrestling with doubt and feelings of disbelief. Wrapping his head around issues of life, more questions than answers. Being “jaded” is a common attribute of approaching middle age, at middle age, or even past it. We become set in our ways and begin to doubt, question really, the things we grew up and grasped tightly to. Despite all the pain and misery of being wounded in the battle of life, there is hope, and there is an answer. I think through this song and this album, Nate reveals more about himself and his journey. The melancholy pop-punk sounds of this song really bring to mind the sounds of MxPx, Social Distortion, and weirdly, Aerosmith. I know, weird huh?

Erase the answers that I have
I never meant to become jaded
all the things that I have seen
Are they a distant Memory?
I never meant to be so Jaded
I’m a river in, with no outlet
Stagnant in my intellect
Cloudy waters that can’t reflect
I saw you there but somehow I forget
I built these walls to keep me safe
Now I’m dying in a cage
I was afraid of certainty, but now I know what I believe.

“In The Storm” is a punk rock worship song, plain and simple. A reflection of the good Grace of God and finding solace from the storm of life. It comes off like a well written Hymn of the past and mixed with Nate’s raw vocal delivery, you can’t help but raise your hands up and sing along. It’s beautiful and I hope you sing it on Sunday, every Sunday, erase that, every day, period.

Into the soil these roots run deep
If the wind should strip me of my leaves
I will stand up tall with branches bare
For in the storm I know my lord is there
My anchor digs into the sand
If the waves should take me away from land
Let the wind then fill my sails with air
For in the storm I know my Lord is there
If the clouds should keep you from my view
Then by faith alone I’ll follow you
Cause In the rise and fall we all must share
But in the storm I know my Lord is there
My hearts the beat, my voice the tune
And My life is a song I’ll sing to you
Not even thunder can drown out our voice
For In the storm I know my Lord is there

The final song that closes out this magnificent punk rock opus is the song “This Is Who We Are”. It’s a message for believers, a reminder of sorts of who we are and why we believe what we do. It’s a great closer. Reminds me a little of Henry Rollins spoken word mixed with a more melodic pop-punk song. Sing along and remember who you are. We follow the name above all names, our savior Jesus and the punk rock sounds above is a perfect example of the Christian life we live. What do I mean? Well, life ain’t easy, friends but together we can lift one another up and follow a God who loves us deeply. This is Who We Are…

This is who we are
Live in the tension of faith and perception, we see with more than our eyes
We believe in the unseen
This is who we are
We make our home in the unknown
This is who we are
We break we bleed, but we won’t retreat
This is who we are

This album overall delivers like a polished nugget of heart burning intensity and fist pumping theatrics mixed with the rawness of an incredible underground punk record just waiting to be found. Listening to “Soul Surgery” I can’t help but feel transported back to my youth (oh hi ‘Nostalgia’), feeling overwhelmed in the senses by an album you had just discovered of your own accord in one of those ultra-cool music shops, yet without the glare of the shelf-stocking hipster or the attitude of a punker than punk, punker behind the counter. That wide smile and hairs standing on the back of your neck feeling, the kind you get when you know you’ve made the right move in your music discovery and that the songs themselves have elicited an overwhelming joy. “Soul Surgery” is just that kind of special album and one filled to the top with passionate energy. Nate’s unrelenting voice is smooth yet consisting of enough grit and rawness that you’ll know it’s a punk record. This isn’t KPop, Olivia Rodigrigo, or heaven help us, Machine Gun Kelly, this is legitimate punk rock that’s fun, inviting, and telling a message the world needs to hear. If you’re desiring some substance, some faith centered spirituality, loud guitars, pounding drums, and melodies that will invoke massive sing-a-long sessions, then this is the album for you. Without a doubt, a definite 5 out 5! Between this and Light The Way, 2022 is already a strong year in the music realm. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year hold for us all.

*The mighty Ethan Luck plays drums on all tracks but #13. Track 13 features the incredible talents of Jesse Sprinkle on Drums.

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