Review Summary: My soul became a hammer, I started to feel better... No more shame, no more fear, no more dread.
These words act as the tagline of AJJ’s most recent full length and they exclaim the records message loud and clear. The band’s self analysis has always been present, but the abstract approach that The Bible 2
takes in both lyricism and sound makes the story of one’s path of forgiveness more potent. The unorthodox way of phrasing these sad stories, like the one in “Junkie Church,” makes them feel way more real, as they are coming in the form of a earnest and anxious stream of thought. The harrowing croons that come from Bonnette are poignantly bittersweet and paint muted landscapes, full of subtle pains and a bit of light poking through the clouds, when in conjunction with the methodically planned and disturbingly distorted tunes. These songs are expertly crafted, showing the band's evolution in both sound and ambition. The music also perfectly complements the complex themes.
The lush sadness that comes from “American Garbage,” “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye,” and the previously mentioned “Junkie Church” are contrasted by songs like “White Worms” and “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread,” which seem hopeful and self-empowering, while still seeming pungently sour with defeat. The depressing happenings that occur in this story are approached in a manner where our protagonist wants to improve. In the effort to improve himself, he learns to forgive what he did as a child and he learns to let what happened in the past stay there. It’s hard for him to move on, but he does, and these songs of muted regret are expressions of their bottled up emotions, letting him escape from their grasp. Amongst missed opportunities and passed loved ones, however, there is hope found in self-help, expression, embracement, and venting. The anger of “Terrifyer” is an attempt to expel frustration, the exclamations of “the devil’s music” in “White Worms” is embracing what our protagonist enjoys, despite what others say, and the horrifying claims of “Cody’s Theme” are an exaggerated representation of the past and the main character’s efforts to forgive himself.
These themes, especially the last one, come into full fruition on “Small Red Boy,” which involves a representation of our protagonist’s childhood self being taught by the main character himself. The boy then becomes a manifestation of hope, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and the closure he lost “when he learned of the tragedy of all of us.” The boy became the conclusion to his relationships with religion, as hinted in “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye,” the people he had to forgive, and the things he had to forgive himself. The small red boy was the end to our main character's arc. He is now the truth the boy claimed to be. The closer, “When I’m A Dead Boy,” even shows that the protagonist is now accepting of death, something that many struggle with. And, with this, our character has drastically changed himself for the better…
No more shame, no more fear, no more dread.
Dedicated to Ian.