Pick Your Rock and Metal

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The grace of music

TO put not too fine a point on it I am a radical atheist. But, as Anthrax, slightly blasphemously put it, I worship music. And specifically hard rock, metal and punk...

And so to Northern Ireland’s ‘For Christ Sake’.

When a Christian band gets in touch, the instinct many would suspect I would adopt would be to slough off any shreds of decency and decry the juxtaposition of my beloved metal with overtly Christian lyrics. To add fuel to the fire of that assumption I am currently reading the memoirs of the renowned atheist and socialist commentator Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22, A Memoir) and am catching up with Richard Dawkins earlier texts.

My views over that juxtaposition are coloured by the awful Stryper (later beset by scandals about the ‘truth’ of their faith) and several other mediocre bands adopting a Christian stance.

The aforementioned Hitchens references a quotation from the 20th Century influential economist John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change then my opinion changes: and you sir?”

So with that challenge I plunged into For Christ Sake’s ‘Death is But a Breath Away’ to see what the proverbial score was.

This is an ep almost two years old, so this was pretty much a chance to evaluate For Christ Sake as they prepare to record a full-length album and are riding high after getting a track on the Terroriser cover mount CD.

It’s always hard to review local bands, as sometimes their output fails to match their live performances, and especially after seeing the likes of Onslaught and being smitten with the Anthrax, Machine Head and Mastodon recent releases.

For Christ Sake, however, evidence a solid and precocious talent. Navigating the rocky roads between death, black, classic and speed metal, the songs execute a fine balance between fury and aplomb.

The eight-minute ‘Sleep’ is a stand-out track, with its nightmare-ish imagery and the promise of salvation painted on a backdrop of fiery melody, haunting chorus and blistering riffs make this a classic – in tone and structure.

‘O’s revelatory message is strewn across a musical arrangement that mixes styles in a more than satisfactory conclusion.

As Keynes posited – noted above – when facts change, opinions must also. For Christ Sake are the proof that one can, and indeed must, abandon existing musical prejudices when the evidence is laid bare. The comfortable zone of making lyrics match insipid music is one that For Christ Sake have transcended. Their lyrical content is moving towards a more contemporary issue-led style, which many bands could do well to note.

For Christ Sake – I enjoyed the journey so far. Now, as they prepare to record their first full-length platter, it is worthy of a certain amount of anticipation.

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