Independent solo artists seem to be on the rise. Look no further than Ben S Dixon’s Oh Propitiation to see the proof of this. At 8 songs, this album is both lyrically and theologically deep. Ranging from issues of the post-modern worldview in relation to Christianity (“Generation Sway”) to the atoning work of Christ on the cross (“Oh Propitiation”), Ben does a great job of laying out a sound case for consistency in the faith.
The one song that may prove challenging for some to swallow is “Life Erased.” Following on the heels of “Generation Sway,” this song tackles the problematic area of abortion with no punches pulled in its condemnation of the act. Even with this track in the mix, the overarching thought-line pervading this album is the supremacy of Christ over the destructive power of sin.
A fairly straight forward metalcore album that doesn’t necessarily break new ground, Oh Propitiation is still an impressive debut. Considering Ben recorded, played, and wrote the whole album on his own, the final product is solidly put together and lifts Ben above some of his contemporaries. There are some obvious influences to his music, most notably Wolves at the Gate.
This isn’t an album overflowing with breakdowns or shredding solos – it is thought-provoking, emotive, and rich. That’s not to say this album doesn’t get aggressive, since it most certainly does. “Generation Sway” has some phenomenal guitar writing that hits just as hard as what you might hear from, say, August Burns Red. “Oh Propitiation” plays with a 6/8 time-signature and is, arguably, the heaviest track on the album. The riff is crunchy, packs a punch, and has several fun accents that you pick up on with multiple listens. The overall production here is very well done and highly polished.
The music highlight on this album is, without a doubt, “It Is Finished.” A power chord driven, soaring chorus is complemented well by the restrained tom-based drumming of the verses. All the themes collide in the words to this track: “Sins grip was upon us / enslaving, condemning, destroying, oppressing… This guilt weighs, distanced me / Yet Jesus bore my shame when he said, ‘It is finished.’”
A recurring theme in nearly every track is the fallen nature of mankind. Whether lamenting the hopelessness of a life before Christ in the title track “Oh Propitiation,” declaring the brokenness of a sinner’s life in “Broken Yet Chosen,” or the longings of creation to see Christ return in “See the King,” the bleakness is always contrasted by the hope found in the saving grace of Jesus. In essence, while acknowledging the sin of the world and our own short-comings, this album points to the love God has for the world and His desire to see people come to know Him.
This album is a promising start for a young artist who has a clear vision and direction for his music. All in all, the album was a cohesive piece from start to finish that never felt lost in itself or confused for what it was trying to be. If you’re looking for music that is driven by roaring guitars, pummeling drums, and poignant lyrics with depth and meaning, Oh Propitiation by Ben S Dixon may be what you’re looking for.
Related Artists: Wolves at the Gate, War of Ages, Hands, Rival Choir