How could you respond to Anthem For the Outcast with just a word? Wow.
There will be a few more words to describe it here, but suffice it to say that that one word really sums the entire experience up nicely. The debut album from The Midnight Wedding hits all the right notes and sets itself apart from the pack by being an unapologetic blend of desperate anthems and rock-driven worship. Honestly, the lines blur between those two motifs that both show up at times in the same tracks. This fusion of defiance towards sin and allegiance to the relationship with God is superbly done. Toss in the sharing of lead vocal responsibilities between Brandon and Caitlin Trlak, and The Midnight Wedding have something quite special going for them. That dynamic is one that isn’t a split between one singer covering the more aggressive vocals and the other the softer– the sharing of vocal duties actually feels equal between the two, and Anthem For the Outcast is better for it.
Vocally, instrumentally, and production quality, it is impressive that this is a debut album. The guitars are every bit as good as something Disciple or Fireflight would put out (incidentally, both of those bands’ vocalists are featured on this album), and the drums hit every note perfectly and hold up against some of the best in the industry.
The twin motifs of defiance and allegiance find their commonality in what ties them together: a complete surrender to God. “I Swear” is one of the tracks that blends defiance and allegiance together in a way that it’s almost as if they’re two sides of the same coin. With a powerful admission of imperfection that results in a willful drop to the knees, so to speak, the song culminates in a stark surrender. The lines, “There’s panic in my face… don’t want your heart to break again” and “I didn’t mean to spill your blood” paint a picture of desperation that is almost palpable. The willingness to give oneself over to the control of God is front and center as the solution to repeated failure.
Another track that effortlessly blends the motifs of defiance and allegiance is “What I Preach.” A lyrical depiction of Romans 7:15-20 where Paul describes how he is unable to do what he knows he needs to do, and the very thing he does is exactly what he knows he shouldn’t. The Midnight Wedding phrases it this way: “All my soul wants, I do the opposite… Can I practice what I preach? Can I fall down on my knees?” There is a tension in the words to this song that Brandon makes plain in his delivery. It is clear that there is an allegiance desired or even pursued, but it requires a defiance to sin that finds its driving force in a surrender to God. Both of these tracks are incredibly powerful.
One track that presents the allegiance to God in terms of a challenge is the track “Enforcers (featuring Kevin Young).” The Midnight Wedding are at their most aggressive with this song, and it is a direct confrontation with the Christians who take the defiance towards sin to extremes that have them acting, in effect, as the “enforcers” of the faith; “enforcers” of course being used as a reference to the unofficial position of hockey players who hold a reputation for being brawlers. Poignantly asking, “Do you think God needs enforcers?” the point is made clearly: defending God is a bit like defending a lion. He doesn’t need help– especially not the kind of help that beats others down or treats them as punching bags. Pushing people around in the name of “defending the faith” is what’s being challenged here, and The Midnight Wedding handle the issue without stooping to the enforcer level.
The Midnight Wedding’s debut, Anthem For the Outcast, is an outstanding entry into the Christian rock scene. Effortlessly blending rock and worship with an unabashed joy for God, the group launches themselves into public notice by being willing to hit their knees in surrender. They are very active on their Facebook and Instagram and their YouTube channel is worth subscribing to. Their music video for “I Swear” is the first of a trilogy that will tell a connective story. It was a challenging video to watch, but it will be interesting to see how they connect it to the next part of the story.
Similar Artists: Disciple, Fireflight, The Protest, and Skillet