Review Summary: If sermons had killer soundtracks.
Perhaps the only thing against Disciple's latest offering is time. See, Attack
comes at an unusual time in the long-running band's career – it sounds like a more natural follow up to the much-revered 2003 Christian metal manifesto Back Again
than the easier-going self-titled. This, despite being a product of an entirely new lineup of musicians backing founding vocalist Kevin Young, is a gloriously near-perfect return to form for the Nashville Christian-metal outfit. It's unfortunate, then, that this is a 2014 release instead of a 2005 release, but better late than never
has been a more appropriate phrase.
If “subtlety” were a virtue, the appropriately titled Attack
would be an absolute failure – but neither are true. Outside of metal groups Wolves at the Gate or For Today, there are few bands this, to put it mildly, forward
. This is a band, after all, that will quote the old hymn “'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” quite liberally and put it to a raging thrash metal soundtrack in “The Name.” Disciple very much channels the passionate religiosity of Back Again,
but adds to it the mature spirituality of the growth the band has experienced over the past few years. To those that shy away from preachy music, Attack
may initially be one to skip.
Doing so may be a regrettable decision, however, as the music itself is probably the only thing more forceful than the lyricism. Young's signature high-pitched drawl and raspy screams are now complimented by High Flight Society graduate and bassist Jason Wilke's powerful tenor, who also gets a chance to show off his guitar chops on the blistering “Lion.” Lead guitarist Andrew Stanton, formerly of I Am Empire, saturates the accompaniment with appropriately tight and soaring fretwork, making the relatively few actual solos stand out that much more – “Attack” and “Kamikaze” highlight his ability perfectly. Drummer Joey West, hailing from the short lived alt-rock outfit After Edmund, provides a physicality to the ever-driving guitars by syncopating and synchronizing with them precisely. Rounding out the new lineup is Philmont guitarist Josiah Prince, whose song-writing abilities have tightened up the entire band into a functioning machine.
The lineup reads just like a Christian rock supergroup, but the results of each part's contribution is more exponential (think Audioslave) than merely additive (think Chickenfoot). This is a heavy but polished product by a group of experienced and professional musicians. Technical proficiency is underscored by musical sensibility – choruses are consistently memorable and catchy despite the full-throttle instrumentation and occasional rhythmic assymetry. Attack
is not experimental; it does not throw caution to the wind, but neither does it rest solely on genre conventions.
That is, as long as Attack
keeps rocking. Like O God, Save Us All
has it's share of decidedly conventional power ballads, such as “Scarlet,” and “Unbroken.” These are not bad listens – far from it, they are both quite strong and effectively pace the twelve tracks until its forty-minute runtime is completed. Unfortunately, closer “The Right Time” is the only track that feels truly forced – it recalls the plodding Scars Remain
final track “No End At All,” when another epic “Worth the Pain” from Horseshoes and Handgrenades
could have book-ended the record perfectly.
Of course, no one is perfect, but the new “Disciple 3.0” gets pretty close - especially since this is, essentially, the now-supergroup's first release. It is nothing less than a steady stream of interesting riffs, intriguing twists, and professional musicianship. Disciple could have easily crafted another defensive, vaguely spiritual rock opus under the increasingly nebulous umbrella term “Christian rock,” but instead they have opted to go all out, both lyrically and musically, with Attack
and show the world how it is really
done. This is a Christ-centered, Christ-only, and Christ-worshiping hard rock collection that is as much an affront to those other groups standing on the sidelines as it is to those that would put their guard up to such an album. My advice: don't. Be open to Attack.