Stories

The Grizzly Awards Set to be the Industry’s First All-Rock Awards

The Grizzly Awards is preparing for a 2019 launch as the Christian music industry’s first all-rock awards. The Grizzly Awards are being produced by a partnership of professionals with wide range of industry experience, all passionate about covering the longstanding gap left by heavy music’s exclusion from most major awards.

The Grizzly Awards seeks to celebrate the innovation, excellence, and spiritual impact of rock and metal community members at every level of the creative process: on the stage, in the studio, and behind the scenes. In the true spirit of rock and roll, we recognize talent and purpose-driven hearts wherever they are found— not just within the approved delineations of major label rosters and radio airplay.

Beyond simply awarding the few, The Grizzly Awards exists to unify the Christian rock community as a whole, fostering connection, community, and the pursuit of excellence. This means inviting listeners into the process at every level, extending the opportunity to be a part of investing in a movement to strengthen a genre that has often been overlooked and under-resourced.

The Grizzly Awards commits to operating at all levels with a foundational commitment to the Gospel, adhering to an unwavering belief that Jesus Christ changes and saves lives. This belief is the ultimate impetus for building an event supporting songs that are a unique tool for communicating that message of redemption.

Join the movement. Find us for more news as it develops on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Oh, Sleeper Album Details Announced

Texas-based metalcore band Oh, Sleeper has finally announced details of the highly anticipated and long awaited album Bloodied / Unbowed.

The album, which is the fourth for the hard rock act and first since 2011, will release everywhere on July 12, according to social media. The second single from the upcoming record is “Fissure.” The hard and heavy new track is available now on Spotify and iTunes.

The band also unveiled preorder bundles for Bloodied / Unbowed, starting at $10. Fans wishing to preorder the new release can check out the official Oh, Sleeper merch store.

Oh, Sleeper was founded in 2006 before signing on with Solid State Records in 2007. The band staked its claim as a staple metalcore act with their chart-impacting third album, Children of Fire.

The first single from Bloodied / Unbowed, “Decimation and Burial,” dropped last November.

Learn more about Oh, Sleeper by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

RED has New Music Coming June 7

RED fans have anxiously been awaiting the announcement that the band shared today: they are releasing new music on June 7th!

The band shared this with their fans by posting a haunting 49-second video on social media. Words slowly fade in and out, giving hints as to what’s to come, without outright saying it or giving much away.

“When it arrives… It won’t know your name… The hate… is here… 6/7/19.”

It has been a year and a half since RED released their 6th studio album, Gone, and fans are guessing that the band’s first single off their 7th album will release June 7th– the first song of their new independent era. Perhaps a single about “hate,” the word that stood out the most in their announcement video? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Stay tuned and keep up with RED on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Switchfoot: The Stories Redemption Tells

Switchfoot’s Native Tongue tour stopped in Nashville on a rainy night in February. It was close enough to the beginning of the tour that everyone was a little giddy; after all, a year earlier, the future of Switchfoot had seemed deeply uncertain as they entered a hiatus. Now we had a brand new album and a chance to see them at the Ryman Auditorium, one of the most revered venues in the country. Every fan in line seemed to feel the gift of that reality.

I was feeling it in a deeply personal way as I slung a couple cameras around my neck and settled in to take some pictures. I had just begun a new round of medical testing and specialists, necessitated by growing concerns about my health. Two years of neurological problems had become partial blindness episodes, occasional partial paralysis, and the near constant present of lighting bolt webs of pain. I was filling out medical paperwork asking me questions like whether I had life insurance or a will. At 27 years old, these are not questions you’re prepared to be answering.

With those kinds of maybes hanging over my head, it seemed both impossible and yet earth-shatteringly necessary to engage the experience Switchfoot was presenting to us that night in Nashville. There is something about their music that strips reality down to its core, that reminds you who you are, reminds you what the world could be.

The night began the same way their new album does, with “Let it Happen” exploding into the room with its aching confession: “Let it happen, let it happen / I don’t hold what the future holds / But I know You’re my future.

As Switchfoot intentionally interspersed songs new and old, “Voices” juxtaposed with “Meant to Live,” “Stars” making an appearances as well as “Dig New Streams,” it became increasingly clear that Native Tongue fits comfortably in their broader discography– it may be the band’s identity distilled into its purest form yet.

We live in a reality of breaking down, of loss, where the wildfires of this world can leave you wondering if there is any true beauty left. We live in a world of refugees, of untimely deaths, of fractured relationships– of uncomfortably staring disease in the face. Switchfoot has never denied that. The truth of it caught like a lump in my throat as I sang along with an acoustic rendition of “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” one of my favorite songs of all time. There is a pain that can get inside your bones.

But, their songs suggest, maybe there’s still something more. Look to the unity created in a room full of strangers singing and dancing to “Float” as a disco ball scatters flecks of light across their faces. Look to the wonder of Jerome Fontamillas celebrating his newly announced cancer free status. Look to the spontaneously cobbled together rendition of “Saltwater Heart” at the request of an audience member. There’s a truth beneath the decay. “I won’t let you go,” Jon Foreman sang, aligning his voice with the heart of the Maker. It was as if all the goodness of the world embraced the room to echo the same.

We climbed through the highs and lows of the songs with the band, with the audience, each note a stepping stone. To participate in a Switchfoot performance can be transformative; this one certainly was. I remembered that love, hope, grace, are all still the truest things– and I remembered it because they had taken on the trappings of lyric and melody, made real in the room. These are the stories redemption tells.

The main set culminated in “Dare You to Move,” a song that has chased me (and so many others) through well over a decade of life. I’ve heard it sung in deserted parking lots, unplugged in a tiny church, in open fields. That night, I heard it piercing into the valley of my own life as a divine invitation. Through my sickness, through the actual dread of death hanging around my spirit, the piercing words called me: “maybe redemption has stories to tell, maybe forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Where you gonna go? Salvation is here.”

The encore ended with the same song Switchfoot always uses as a closer, another touchstone for the heart of who Switchfoot is: “Where I Belong.” The world of goodness and beauty that Switchfoot’s music seeks to uncover, to dig out of the heartache, is one we all collectively leaned into with the piercing longing of “Where I Belong.”

“And on that final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell you that I tried
To live it like a song.

And when I reach the other side
I want to look you in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong
.

In the face of all the worst the world can throw at us, the temptation is to be motionless. When the death at work in our relationships and minds and our very breath and bones weighs down our spirits, it can pin us to the ground. Fear whispers that we’ll stay there, that all our actions are entropy, that maybe there is not even a better world to hope for.

A few times over the years I have been enjoying and covering music, I have attended concerts that felt more like a revelation. This one felt that way to me. It was light colliding with that deathly weight in my bones. It was the invitation I needed, the one that has chased me since I was just a kid, the hope that I believe will pursue me til the end of my days: “I dare you to move.”

See a full photo gallery from the night.

***

I now know that my condition is not life-threatening. I do, however, have a chronic, degenerative neurological disease that doctors are still working to diagnose, a disease that will likely leave me with these symptoms steadily worsening for the rest of my life.

None of us know how many days we have left. I have been made keenly aware of that, and aware also that I could lose more physical functionality at any time. The witness of Switchfoot reminds me what matters in light of that kind of urgency. “I don’t hold what the future holds, but I know You’re my future.”

Disciple Now Booking a Fall Tour With Relentless Flood

Disciple has announced that they are heading out on tour in the fall with Relentless Flood. They are booking in the Midwest to the West Coast, from October through November.

If you want to bring this tour to your area, you can contact Faith Artist Agency on their website, or by emailing them directly at info@faabooking.com.

For more information on Disciple, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also check out ROP’s most recent gallery of Disciple performing live

For more information on the opening act, Relentless Flood, find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo by Concert Fotos (Chad Fenner).

Starset Announces Third Album Release Date and Fall Tour

The OH-based cinematic rock band Starset, signed to Fearless Records, announced not only that they will be releasing their third album Demonstrations on September 13, but also an extensive US Fall Tour.


This 35-stop tour will kick off in the band’s home state the same day that their album releases, and will hit major cities all across the U.S. including Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and Philadelphia. 

9/13      Cincinnati, OH
9/14      Pittsburgh, PA
9/15      Reading, PA
9/17      Silver Spring, MD
9/18      Norfolk, VA
9/20      Charlotte, NC
9/21      Charleston, SC
9/22      Atlanta, GA
9/24      Baton Rouge, LA
9/25      Houston, TX
9/27      San Antonio, TX
9/28      Dallas, TX
9/29      Oklahoma City, OK
10/1      Phoenix, AZ
10/2      Los Angeles, CA    
10/4      San Fransisco, CA
10/5      Sacramento, CA
10/7      San Diego CA
10/8      Ventura, CA
10/9      Reno, NV
10/12    Portland, OR
10/13    Seattle, WA
10/14    Boise, ID
10/16    Salt Lake City, UT
10/17    Denver, CO
10/18    Lincoln, NE
10/20    Minneapolis, MN
10/21    Chicago, IL
10/24    Philadelphia, PA
10/25    New York, NY
10/26    Hartford, CT
10/27    Boston, MA
10/29    Niagra Falls, NY
10/30    Detroit, MI
11/01    Columbus, OH

For more information about the tour and to learn more about Starset, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visit www.starsetonline.com.

Breaking Boundaries and Brutal Honesty: ‘Feels Like Home’ by UnMasked

Florida rap-rock trio, UnMasked, have knocked it out of the park with their third album since 2017, Feels Like Home. With a unique blend of Thousand Foot Krutch and NF with a little Eminem sprinkled in, UnMasked is breaking genre boundaries with a sound both hip-hop and rock fans can get behind.

The album opens with energetic hip-hop and heavy guitars in “Fahrenheit.” The voice of the guitarist, Josh, echoes through the breaks in the beautifully crafted chaos; the refrain steps into the mind of a person with social anxiety: “It’s getting hot in here / somebody crack a window / so I can vent my fears / to someone who’s in control.”

“Ain’t My Game” keeps the high energy going with a combination of speedy rhymes from Jeremiah “Zero” and steady beats from drummer Jeff. This song center on the transparency of the band through the many masks artists are influenced to wear.

While the raps remain fast, the beat thins and tempo slows in “Better Things.” The rap gets real, breaking into the mentality of ostracized individuals driven to the edge: “You scare me / You jamming me to bits / I can’t take another hit / And all I ever did to you was be different / How do you feel now?”

The next two tracks slow way down. A stripped down beat and acoustic guitar guide the brutally honest depiction of the music industry in the lyrics for “I Get It.” The album’s interlude “Feel For Me” stands out from the remainder of the album, featuring little more than clean vocals with a piano accompaniment. It’s a beautiful melody filled with raw pain from a depressed soul.

The album picks up the pace again with catchy rhymes and beats in “Updown.” The heavy riffs and hard rock tone come full force into the mix with “Ctrl C” and “Yeah.” The latter of the two is purely an energy booster; however, “Ctrl C” is an anthem of resistance, calling out: “We won’t, we won’t, we won’t compromise!”

Retreating back into the feel of classic hip-hop, “Night-Night” pulls you in to the realm of self-doubt and questioning that lives in the darkness when sleep refuses to come. The lyrics of this one remain as genuine as the rest of the album: “Can’t hide from the thoughts around / Can’t hide in the dark from sound / Can’t write when the ink is out / The light’s getting closer now.”

“Possibilities” begins with a passionate speech; the mood continues to grow while the song explores the concept of rising from rock bottom. It’s a song that encourages the listener to think deeper, while also perfectly setting up the album’s conclusion, “Feels Like Home.” With a nostalgic mood set by the cello of Tate Olsen (Skillet), the title track is a bittersweet look at the transition between innocence and the changes of adulthood. The song finishes with a glimpse of comfort in the words:

“I didn’t know you, but now that I do
I’ll walk beside you, my friend.”

With a variety of emotions and messages packed deep within every song, UnMasked has created an album that feels like life. Their strong convictions and brutal honesty mixed with a unique sound makes them stand out from the pack. This trio is definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Find Feels Like Home on Spotify and Apple Music

Related Artists: Thousand Foot Krutch, NF, Eminem

Convictions, Earth Groans Announce Summer Tour

Fresh off the release of their 2018 album Hope For The Broken, Convictions is set to melt faces with their brand of metal as they embark on a tour this summer.

According to social media, the tour will feature Solid State recording artist and fellow hard rock outfit Earth Groans. “We are so excited to get back on the road with some of our best buds,” the band said in the post. “This is the first of many dates for us this summer!”

The tour will kick off in the steel city of Pittsburgh, PA and make stops across the midwest, including major hubs like Nashville and Minneapolis.

6/29 • Pittsburgh, PA – The Smiling Moose
6/30 • Lakewood, OH – Symposium
7/2 • Columbus, OH – Big Room Bar
7/3 • Indianapolis, IN – Hoosier Dome
7/4 • Urbana, IL – Audiofeed Festival
7/5 • Louisville, KY – Tiger Room
7/6 • Nashville, TN – Rocketown
7/7 • Springfield, MO – Outland Ballroom
7/8 • Wichita, KS – Barleycorn’s
7/9 • Omaha, NE – Drinkery
7/11 • Sioux City, IA – The Marquee
7/12 • Oshkosh, WI – LifeFest
7/13 • Minneapolis, MN – TBD

For more information about the tour and to learn more about Convictions, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.convictionsrock.com.

Zahna Prepares for Kidney Transplant

In an emotional live video to fans this evening, Zahna announced to fans, friends, and family that she will be getting a kidney transplant on May 17.

The singer has shared before about her health struggles surrounding Medullary Kidney Disease, and the transplant is the culmination of ongoing difficulties over the past two years. In the video, Zahna shared that miraculously, her mother is a match for donating– and will be donating close to Mother’s Day, giving her daughter life all over again.

Zahna assured her fans also that she will be doing her absolute best to make all of her summer shows and commitments, but warned in advance that some June commitments might have to change. She also invited fans into praying with and for her on the transplant date and also in recovery. If you’re led to donate at all toward her medical costs, you can donate through PayPal to thesuzymartinez@gmail.com, Venmo to @suzymadsen, and Cash app to $suzymadsen.

To share your words of encouragement and prayers with Zahna, find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Switchfoot Announces Fall Tour With Double Sets

Switchfoot has announced a unique tour for this fall in a video posted to social media.

After thanking fans for the experience of the recently wrapped Native Tongue tour, Switchfoot shared how often they heard from fans that they wanted more– more time, more songs, more stories. So Switchfoot plans to deliver exactly that.

This fall, Switchfoot will embark on a tour without any opener, planning to play two full sets themselves. They’ll incorporate deep cuts and stories throughout the evening as well. The tour will be scheduled for limited cities, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on switchfoot.com/tour for dates.

The unique tour will cap off what has proved to be a milestone year for the band, who came out of hiatus with the album Native Tongue and corresponding tour and is presently preparing for a summer tour of Europe with Bon Jovi. To keep up with everything Switchfoot has on the schedule, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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