(Content note: Self-harm, suicide)
The best rock and roll is always born of fire, be it the fire of our own personal hells or the fire of the Spirit that ultimately burns us clean. The Persuaded’s full length debut Dawn of Destruction is born of both.
Comprised of 4 songs from prior independent EPs and 6 brand new cuts, Dawn of Destruction ushers in The Persuaded’s era with Rockfest Records. It’s a long-overdue fulfillment for a band who has spent seven years navigating the brutal local show circuit, lineup changes, and personal devastation. A year ago, The Persuaded was considering calling it quits. Now they’ve released what promises to be an early highlight of metalcore in 2019.
The weight of personal challenges and the confusion and anger of betrayal blaze through songs like “Betrayal” and lead single “Wolves.” The riff from Cody Phillips that kicks off “Wolves” instantly hooks the listener into a tale of disappointment and abandonment, told by the back-and-forth vocals of Josh Honea and Joseph Vargas.
“You’ve burned your bridges
And watched them fall
You fake innocence to fool them all.”
“Forced Silence” takes that theme and explores it on a broader level, addressing a world that demands apathetic conformity. This song shows off the unique fusion of metalcore and more traditional hard rock sounds that The Persuaded concocts, riding a frenetic drum pace from Trent Russell that instantly reminds of metal music while more melodic elements and full-bodied rhythmic guitars take over in the chorus.
Other songs recenter from external threats to introspection, addressing the internal demons of depression, addiction, and even contemplated suicide. “The cuts on my wrist, they betray me once again / I’m tired of living like this now / God break these chains from me” the song “Save Me” cries over a raw wall of guitar that adds weight to the sense of desperation. This song also moves us beyond the pain of personal and relational struggle, looking to God to provide release. The album’s one ballad, earnest “Heavy Heart” pleads “Take this heavy heart / It wants to be light / Make me new in Your sight.”
That plea is firmly rooted in songs that serve as declarations of truths that hold beyond the burn of betrayal. “Unashamed” is a passionate, melodic creed, voiced with some help from guest vocals from Kevin Young (Disciple). The feature feels fitting, a rock veteran joining his voice with a newly rising band, emphasizing together the message of the chorus:
“Even through the darkest night
Your light will shine in all our hearts
No matter what life throws our way
We’ll shout Your name
We are the unashamed.”
That determined declaration carries through previously released “To My Brothers,” a song that calls to those who have faltered and struggled to take heart and remember hope and purpose. Album closer “The Fire” wraps the set of songs with an invitation for the Spirit, calling on deeply Biblical language as it sings “Baptize me in Your fire / Let it wash away all my past mistakes / Touch the coal to my lips / Until all the sin has been burnt away.”
One of Dawn of Destruction‘s deepest strengths lies in the fact that it’s unafraid to put songs of great darkness and songs of great faith side by side. In doing so, The Persuaded acknowledges the reality that even a life lived in the footsteps of Jesus will walk through scorching trials. This honesty extends an invitation to others, showing by example that perfection is not required in order to be loved by God. In fact, the juxtaposition of faith and pain beautifully proves the concept The Persuaded built their band around: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Related Artists: Memphis May Fire, Amongst the Giants, RED