Review Summary: strange how we move
When I was a kid, Christian music was all I was allowed to listen to. I was fine with that from the ages of, oh, 7-13, so sheltered was I from the outside world that secular music might as well have not even existed yet. It's like when I first heard someone say something about 'playing Playstation.' I thought it was an arcade game at the bowling alley or something. Anyway, at 14, I started hearing about 'Linkin Park' and 'The Used' from my peers, but because I didn't want to 'break the rules,' I searched for Christian bands that were striving to sound like their secular counterparts. The search was largely fruitless; the bands that sounded good were still only cheap copies, and even then they were singing about something I didn't fully believe. Bands like Kutless, Skillet, etc. You know. Shi
In the same vein, I still have an interest in bands like Thrice and Underoath beyond their great music. What interests me I suppose is the artistic ways in which they express convictions I would otherwise find ridiculous. However, even their music has no doubt in God. Doubt in themselves, of course; that's a staple for Christians. We make the mistakes, not God. That's why I love a band like mewithoutYou so much, because Aaron Weiss express the doubts in God that all Christians must have (I know I had them), and as a result their music sounds all the more honest and convincing. Furthermore, there's As Cities Burn's album Come Now Sleep. I remember listening to it about a year ago, not paying too much attention to it and therefore being bored to tears. I played it again a few months back and actually listened and I was blown away.
"Contact" is beautiful, majestic yet subdued; "climax" becomes a relative term within the song. The snaking guitar line begs the question "Oh my, heaven, why do you have doors to close?" before the doors of the song are thrown open into a slow-burning solo, followed by an a capella
verse, feedback slowly fading in before cutting out to an acoustic "God must be asleep." The doubt and emotion contained within the song and the record in general is entirely convincing and moving. A fuss was made over how different Come Now Sleep is from Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest, but the differences aren't detrimental. The vocals are largely similar; there is more singing but the screaming is still there, albeit in a less aggressive manner. Second track "Empire" brings to mind their debut; short and hard-hitting with a catchy chorus flanked by self-deprecating verses with lines like "I had an angel's smile hiding a vulture's bite." The guitar riffs on Come Now Sleep are impressive, lending to the record the technicality of their debut while at the same time adding an impressive dense atmosphere.
The album's best trait is the production. Given a post rock-ish atmosphere by thick guitar tones and fadeout/fade-in techniques, Come Now Sleep becomes a wholly different listen than As Cities Burn's debut, which was often a bit obvious in its intentions and delivery. "Clouds" begins with a sample of a few voices talking about who or what they think God is, gradually building instruments up until Cody Bonnette comes in with "I think our God isn't God if he fits inside our heads." The penultimate guitar lead switches between left and right channels, immaculate and affecting. The album's best song is "Tides," twin guitar leads weave before the most impressive As Cities Burn chorus, which gives a new meaning to the word "driving." A close second is closer "Timothy," a thirteen minute lesson in restraint. The entire midsection is one big solo, clean-toned and calm with a distorted bass in the background. It doesn't lead to a conventional explosive ending, but rather to a quiet musing of "It's like sweet and dreamless sleep; it sounds like heaven to me."
Come Now Sleep is an album of connected themes - doubt, faith, loyalty, etc. In many ways, the last minute of "Timothy" is the perfect ending; not a distorted, attention-seeking ending, but a soft slipping into another realm. Heaven? Maybe, but probably not.