Label: Mediaskare Records
Release Date: 04/29/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan
- Reckless American
- Commercialized Genocide
- Greed Machine
- Eliminate The Sickness
- Turn It Around
- Last One Standing
The Reformers bring their brand of metalcore to the newly released “Abolished” from Mediaskare Records. The band doesn’t pull any punches delivering some of the most outspoken lyrics out there, along with a heavy sound and vast array of vocals. Being a fan of their first album “For King and Kingdom” I was anxious to get my ears on this newest release from the San Jose, California group. Upon first listen, it was evident that this was a more diverse, mature work. There just seems to be more of an distinction to the way things are put together musically on this record compared to their debut. I honestly don’t feel the overall sound gets stuck to badly in any lasting monotony, which is a rarity to feel that way with a lot of the metalcore today. The vocals range from one extreme to the other, from the deepest possible guttural moaning to an almost pop-rock style that makes an occasional appearance. I can see where the cleaner vocals can almost take a listener by surprise at times and might be a bit of a turn off, but overall I fell the vocals are solid for the style. The Reformers are not a band for clever metaphors or lyrics that are cloaked in mystery. They leave no doubt as for their ultimate evangelistic purpose. It is clearly spelled out in the “band interest” section on their Facebook page, “Jesus Christ, and seeing his name made famous through the nations.”
“Reform” kicks the album off with plenty of heavy vocals, then blasting into a nice groove after screaming the phrase: “I speak to the hearts of every person who is brow beaten and broken, this your time, freedom is now!” An anthem speaking of God raising up reformers and not conforming. The song is pretty heavy with a lot of chugging guitars, but the Reformers always seem to pack plenty of pleasing melodies to go around on each tune, even during the darker moments. “Reckless American” is a full on head banger that never lets up. One of my favorites on the record, the tune has plenty to say about the trap of serving idols of the culture and not serving the one true King who is worthy of worship. I must admit, I was a little surprised to hear a DJ turntable scratching going down in the song “Hooked” at first, but it’s actually kind of catchy and works well with the song. The track deals with fighting against addictive behaviors, and knowing that God’s grace is with us and is the One who can make us whole from things that would want to kill us.
I know there has been some controversy about the lyrical content of the song “Abomination.” The band takes a blunt approach here dealing with sin and makes a call for repentance. With lyrics like: “I’ll say it again truth is truth/infidelity, twisted sexuality/has become our reality/put Christ on the cross/what is your response?” Some argued that they are singling out homosexuals, and felt their words were hateful in nature. In response, the band actually recorded a video in an attempt to dispel those notions, in which lead singer Andrew basically says that the song was not meant to isolate anyone, and is about all sin, of which we are all guilty.
The Reformers are certainly not afraid to take on topics with blunt force. “Commercialized Genocide” carries another topic that is touchy, calling out the big business of abortion. A stirring piece that calls us all to stand up for life first. Being a topic that is close to my heart, I couldn’t help but be hooked at the moment the first words “Listen up!” are shouted. “Belligerence” is a heavy, crunchy tune that basically urges the listener to leave the negativity of the world and to carve out your own paths. “We are to blame/we stay the same/never learning from our mistakes/somewhere along the line/We learned/somewhere along the line/we learned to live in hate and negativity.”
With the help of Brooks Reeves from Impending Doom, the album rounds out with the closer “Last One Standing.” Brooks growls out the phrase “Giving up is never on option!” The theme is based on the scripture in Matthew 7:24-27, about building your house on a solid foundation so that when the storms of life come, you will be left standing on the firm foundation of Christ. I really enjoyed the spoken word section of this tune toward the end, it’s well placed and nicely executed.
Overall: Musically, I must confess, I’ve gone back and forth on this record to a certain extent. After multiple listens, I ended up with an overall feeling that even though some of the songs sound pretty similar, there is enough diversity that has kept me coming back. Heavy guitar licks, pounding drums and a wide range of vocals that are generally on point. If you like blunt lyrics, then this is the record for you. Personally, I have no issue when a band looks around the universe and decides to write honestly about what they see. Sometimes that feeling of turning the tables over in the temple courts isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I get it that some people thought some of their lyrics were a little abrasive, but in the context of the album as whole, I don’t believe that trying to offend anyone is the band’s heart at all.
RIYL: The Saving, Eyes of Eli, Altars