Review Summary: After the disappointment of their previous mainstream debut, Christian metalheads Disciple bounce back with their best album to date.
Disciple: one of the top names in christian metal. For several years and three full-length albums their name meant lurching guitars, lots of screaming vocals, and powerful Christian lyrics. They decided it was time to break into the mainstream and signed onto a major record label. And that's where the problems started.
2005 saw the release of Disciple's self-titled mainstream album, and a significant disappoint for most fans. Gone was a large portion of the heavy sound and screamed vocals. In it's place: an album vastly under the quality of previous efforts, and hurt - not helped - by its length of 14 tracks. (It should be noted I myself enjoyed it, but it was a bit of a letdown) The band said they wanted to not be as loud and incorporate more melody into their sound, and many fans saw it as a step in the wrong direction.
But don't give up on them yet, because last year saw the release of Scars Remain
. Here we see the band go back to their metal roots, while still keeping a fair amount of melody (as always). The opening track Regime Change
builds from a quiet guitar picking to pounding guitar and drums. After Kevin's scream of "Build it up, tear it down!", the full band kicks in for the main riff. The first part of the verse is soft, but some screams incorporated into the verse create a great buildup to the strong and catchy chorus. After another verse, chorus, bridge, and repeated intro, another scream of "So sorry!" lets loose a guitar solo (something absent from the last album's opener). This all creates one the best opening songs yet, and quite easily one of the best Disciple songs ever.
Throughout the album, the whole band keeps on their toes, going to back to what they do best: a slightly alternative metal sound that can't necessarily be compared any other band I've heard (and my music collection is just under 2000 tracks). Here they keep on their toes, offering up plenty of stellar material that might be their best ever. Guitarist Brad Noah has always shown his skill on previous efforts, and here is definitely no exception. Whether it's the solos on Regime Change
and Purpose to Melody
, the finger-picking on My Hell
, or the lightning fast shredding-to-riffage intro from Dive
, Brad shows he is more than able to play whatever is needed in a song. You won't find any banal or filler riffs here, but instead the most abundant "metal-sounding" guitars recorded.
Kevin has likewise stepped up on vocals. Those who were disappointed by the large lack of pure aggressive screaming have reason to rejoice. While Disciple has never been an all-screaming metalcore band, Kevin felt more than content to scream his lungs out. (And the somewhat recent addition of Joey on bass means Kevin is free to run around live, all the time very energetically). Well, here is the return of that screaming, while keeping enough singing to please any of the newer fans. His singing voice might need to grow on some, but Kevin's slightly high-pitched scream should please most. Better yet, there's also some great sing/scream mixes on a couple songs.
Like (most) hard rock or metal bands, Disciple also has great ballads in their palette, slowing things down only twice. After the World
is an very well done slow song, with acoustic guitar and good vocals. This song alone is better than the all the ballads from the last CD, and No End at All
is pretty well done also.
Problems" Very few, but a couple. Again, like the last album, the second track is pretty close to filler quality, being pretty repetitive and having pretty cliche lyrics. The end of the title track is slow chugging guitar that eventually get slower and stops, which can definitely sound awkward. The lyrics to main single "Game On" way sound cheesy or cliche to many:
"When the lights go up and the game is on
Are you ready for me" Cause I'm ready for you
....I can see you standing there...
It's time for us to start throwing down!"
The song itself, however, is pretty darn good.
After the World
Fight For Love