Review Summary: Sinai Beach manages to make furious metalcore that can appeal to even the most evil metalhead or the most conservative christian. This is part of the definition for "Christian Brutality" that can beat your face in with a bat with brutality and then rush y2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Let's face it, Christian music usually sucks. The sheer wussiness of it is enough to drive many people away from it. But then, based on opinion, of course, Christian's decided to make metal and hardcore, and people were finally able to listen to Christian music without too much cringing. Sure, there is still bad Christian metal, but there is also really good Christian metal. When thinking about my favorite Christian artists, Sinai Beach surfaces as a top 5 choice. With 2005's "Immersed" they have established themselves as one of the best Christian metalcore bands in my collection. The members (at the time of this release) are as follows:
CJ Alderson -Vocals
Logan Lambert -Guitar
Mike "The Bear" Risinger -Guitar
Jeff Santo -Bass
Mike Dunlap -Drums
"Immersed" has the cover art and sound of any evil metal act, and yet their lyrics are strongly Christian. Every song has a very spiritual topic that somehow fit well with the heavy instrumentation and aggressive vocals. The subject matter ranges from asking God questions and asking him to "Cut me and gut me, hang me by the organs within. If that's what you want to see, then let it be because I desire to be pleasing" in "Obedience Through Desecration" or "Lord and why did you give your son?... surely you gave you're life, surely you gave your flesh for more than this" in "Necessary Bloodshed" to anger at the worlds sins and threatening to "Piss on you're tortured soul" from "The Serpent's Letter", which is easily the angriest song on the album, or even the end of the world from "Hells Blaze". Now, while they might not be the best lyrics, as the lyrics all are lacking, they get the job done and make you feel all warm inside. The words you hear wouldn't be out of place in a church, so even the most conservative Christian won't find anything to deem "evil", except maybe the pre-chorus in "The God I Would Be" where CJ sinisterly speaks the words "and if I was God, heaven would be nearly empty and hell would overflow".
While on the subject of CJ, I must say that he is an excellent vocalist. His screams at both growling and higher pitches are superb. He can also hold out a screamed note for quite a long time. Sure, his screams fluctuate strangely at times, but for the most part, they are extremely solid. His singing voice is very unique and he knows his range and how to manipulate it, and yet manages to create some horribly bad vocal patterns in the chorus of "Return to Dust" and "His Chosen Fate". His very best singing is found in the chorus of "The Stagnate" where he is quickly and melodically singing, providing a break in the scream-fest that is the rest of the song. Now, the screamed verse and sung chorus and mixed breakdown are the basic vocal formula for the album, but the song "Hell's Blaze", which is the albums heaviest song, deviates from this formula and assaults your ears with deep screaming and heavy instrumentation for nearly 3 minutes. The song lengths on this release are extremely varied, with two songs over 5 minutes ("The Serpent's Letter" and "Ignoring the Conditional Response") and only 3 songs dipping below 3 minutes, 2 of which are instrumentals and the other being "Hell's Blaze".
The instrumentation on the album is focused more on heaviness than they are technicality. The guitars constantly slam out heavy, fast riffs that are simple, yet undeniably effective. With a lack of lead work, you might wonder why there are two guitars, but at times, you're glad there are. Examples of this are the few, simple, yet music-matching solos found in "The God I Would Be" and "Necessary Bloodshed", or in the song "Return to Dust" where you get an occasional, yet catchy lead. The guitar's make use of galloping and occasional squeals, so the constant rhythmic, start stop riffs become even more effective on several occasions. The song "To The Church", which is easily one of the albums best songs, even utilizes a synth to create catchy intro that explodes into an even catchier synth riff accompanied by heavy guitars and excellent drumming. Mike Dunlap makes incredible use of double bass; it's not overused, yet it is still a prominent feature of his drumming. The drums occasional get a chance to do a roll, but for the most part they keep rhythm while remaining interesting. The cymbals are used to create a very interesting element of the drumming as well. As usual, the bass is completely drowned out by everything else that is going on, so there is nothing to excite you bassists with here. Hopefully, one day, metalcore bands will make use of their bassists, but for now, there is not much to hear. Despite this, though, the instrumentation is tight and fitting with the vocals, which is one of the reasons this release is so good.
Highlights include "Obedience Through Desecration", "Necessary Bloodshed", "To The Church "," The Serpents Letter "," The Stagnate, Hell's Blaze, and "Ignoring the Conditional Response", and instrumental tracks "Apocalypse" (which even features CJ's screams as an instrument) and "Distressor".
You definitely need to be a fan of metalcore or metal to like this release, but it definitely can smack you in the face with a bat with it's brutality and then take you to the hospital for treatment with it's melody. Of all the metalcore of 2005, I would definitely put this on a top 10 list. Pick it up and see for yourself.