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.
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.
Switchfoot has solidified their place in the music world over the course of eleven albums after first becoming household name with the anthems “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move.” One might think that with a career spanning 23 years they would be locked into a sound and not pushing boundaries. Switchfoot however has never shied away from expressing their thoughts emphatically or exploring new ways to express their musicality.
Native Tongue begins with the raucous “Let it Happen.” This song has a driving melody, but lyrically speaks about finding the meaning of life with lyrics such as, “This life is hollow and mostly borrowed, the voices are screaming, but where is the meaning?Noisy crescendos behind closed windows.” The album moves further into exploring life’s meaning with “Native Tongue.” This upbeat song drives the message home through melodic tones, guitars, and lyrics such as, “love is your language, love is your native tongue.” Switchfoot has always seemed to want to bring unity through their music, and tracks like this are no different.
The third track on the album, “All I Need,” is more of a ballad in nature. It is still full of lyrical content speaking of needing love and connectedness, as the chorus rings out in Jon’s clear vocals: “All I need is the air I breathe, the time we share and the ground beneath my feet. All I need is the love that I believe in– tell me love, do you believe in me?”
The fourth track kicks into overdrive. “Voices” seems ambiguous in its meaning at first listen, even if the music and lyrics do draw you in. The meaning can be found in the bridge: “every moment crowded with choices, speak to me and drown out the voices.” While it is not clear who the person is speaking in this line, one could think that it might be God, speaking through the noises of life, and a conscience trying to push through distractions.
The album moves to the fifth track, “Dig New Streams,” which is a completely different sound than the previous four tracks, leaving the listener wondering what the next track is going to entail. It also shows that Switchfoot is never one to play it safe musically or lyrically. This song once again speaks of love and unifying differing sides, something that is not unheard of on previous Switchfoot albums like Where the Light Shines Through with the song “Looking for America” or the track “Politicians” off of Nothing is Sound.
The sixth track shifts into an easy to love track, “Joy Invincible.” It is in a different gear than what has been heard in the previous five tracks. The vocals are ethereal when you hit the chorus, with lyrics like “Hallelujah nevertheless, was the song the pain couldn’t destroy. Hallelujah nevertheless, you’re my joy invincible.” This song is one that makes you smile at its lighthearted sound and will be one that may end up being hummed after a listen. The next track, “The Hardest Art,” follows the same vein with a more melodic sound. This track is definitely a surprise from Switchfoot, as it is a different sound musically for them. Kaela Sinclair’s guest vocals marry well with Jon’s in this pop-synthesized track with some great lyrical content:
“Every movie makes love seem easy
They fall in love like the fire burns.
And maybe I’m the only one,
but it feels like love is the hardest art to learn.”
The last seven tracks of this album follow the same pattern as the first seven tracks. They leave the listener guessing what will be next on this musical roller coaster of an album. You have driving tracks like “Can’t Take My Fire” and “We’re Gonna Be Alright,” while mixed in between are moving ballads like “The Strength to Let Go” and the album closer “You’re the One I Want.”
If fans of Switchfoot thought the first album out of hiatus was going be a rehashing of something already done in the band’s storied career, this album tells a different story. It tells a story of life, love, seeking, searching, and redemption. If this is the culmination of 23 years, it is exciting to see what the guys from San Diego, CA bring to their next album!
Scott Stapp has released a new music video for the song “Purpose for Pain” that reveals in a new way how intensely personal the track is for the former Creed frontman.
The video tells a story of childhood abuse and darkness, leading to temptations towards addiction. You can watch the music video, directed by Daniel E Catullo III, below.
The song is the lead single from The Space Between the Shadows, due in July– Stapp’s long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s Proof of Life. He will also be embarking on a tour in support of the album, with tour dates available at scottstapp.com/events.
This song, like all of Scott Stapp’s impressive discography, is born of the reality that he is no stranger to struggles. As the video portrays, a trouble past and history with addiction and mental illness have often threatened his purpose. But his music still comes out swinging in affirmation of the truth:
There’s so much to lose There’s so much at stake Gotta turn this around And find the purpose for pain.
Keep up with Scott Stapp as The Space Between the Shadows approaches by following him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Today Spoken announced that guitarist JR Bareis (of Love & Death, formerly of Islander) has officially joined the band.
“We’re so excited to announce that JR is now part of the SPOKEN family. He is now an official member of Spoken,” Matt Baird, who helms the band, shared on social media. “We’re currently busy writing for the new Spoken record, as well as planning out tour plans for 2019. Welcome to the next chapter.”
Earlier this year, Spoken ran a GoFundMe campaign to fund their new music. Spoken’s upcoming album will follow IX, which released in 2017. JR Bareis is still also working on Love & Death’s long-awaited sophomore album alongside Brian “Head” Welch.
After a few teasing one-off dates over the past 6 months, it’s official: Anberlin is preparing to go on a full tour.
It’s been 5 years since Anberlin ended their career with a final world tour and a final album, Lowborn. Their first return came in the form of a show with Underoath in Florida. That show spawned a few more, and now they’ll be touring this summer.
“We couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to announce our Summer 2019 tour dates,” Anberlin said in a Facebook post this morning. “After nearly 5 years away, we have missed everyone out there, so we are coming back out to see you all!!”
Tickets go on sale Friday at 10:00 a.m., and you can find them at anberlin.com. There’s been no news yet of if their return might include some new music, but Rock On Purpose will share updates as we have them.
Out Of Black has released a music video for their song “Animal” (featuring Jake Jones). The video premiered at JesusWired.com.
The song, which we previously reviewed here on Rock On Purpose, was produced by Jake Jones (As We Ascend) and Andrew Stanton (Disciple). It was mastered by Robert Venable (As We Ascend). The music video was shot and edited by Missy Black.
Occasionally a tour lineup gets announced that makes you feel a little like you’re living in your own MySpace bulletins from 2008. Breaking Benjamin’s spring tour lineup was that for me, featuring support from Skillet, Underoath, and Fight the Fury (the newly launched side hustle for Skillet frontman John Cooper).
In many ways, the lineup seemed improbable: historically, Underoath has operated in a very different sonic lane than Breaking Benjamin or Skillet. Ten years ago, you probably never would have seen any of the three touring together, because Skillet was once primarily constrained to the Christian market.
But times have changed. Christian rock as an entity now exists almost entirely in the crossover space, a shift that Skillet has served as a frontrunner for since the days of their chart-dominating, double-platinum certified album Awake. Breaking Benjamin and Skillet have toured together now several times as a result. More recently, the rock landscape has changed further still, with “metalcore” bands getting grandfathered in increasingly to the hard rock genre. Bands like Memphis May Fire suddenly getting radio success on Mainstream Rock charts is one example of this. Underoath’s Erase Me single “Ihateit,” one of the mellowest cuts from the 2018 return album, also got traction in that format.
What is happening, in short, is consolidation, and rarely has that fact hit home as hard as when I looked at this lineup. Rock is not “cool” at present. The men in suits aren’t putting resources behind it. The result is that only the bands that already had legendary status, or the newer bands who are extremely adaptable, are surviving. The shrinking playing field sees bands that once existed comfortably in disparate subgenres suddenly coming together on the same bill. And while that speaks ominously of the challenges of rock in our current climate, tours like this one uncovered a vivid silver lining.
Fight the Fury kicked off the night with three tracks from their debut EP Still Breathing and one new track, “Soldier,” that we haven’t heard yet. John Cooper and Seth Morrison both displayed a side of their musicianship that we don’t usually see in Skillet, a raw ferocity that relied less on theater and more on flexing the muscles of heavy riffs and guttural screams. As a frontman, John Cooper has always held the crucial trait of legitimately enjoying every performance. That factor seemed amplified when presenting his passion project to an intrigued arena of listeners.
Out of all the bands on the lineup, I was most curious to see how Underoath would fit, especially given that they are still in the process of fully re-establishing themselves after a lengthy hiatus. If I had any doubts, they evaporated with the first ferocious riffs of “On My Teeth.” Underoath’s presence hit the arena like a tidal wave, consuming and relentless. I’d seen Underoath perform before in multiple different eras, and this was somehow the tightest I’d ever seen them. Every member seemed locked in to their purpose on stage, their role in the songs they were creating, whether they were throwbacks like “It’s A Dangerous Business…” or new tracks like “No Frame.”
One of the things that Underoath’s performance also impressed on me was their humility and work ethic. Lead singer Spencer Chamberlain seemed to fully recognize that the audience was from a corner of the rock world where Underoath has not yet proved themselves. He thanked them for giving Underoath a shot, offering praise to all the other bands on the bill. This is a band who has earned Grammy nominations and a Billboard #2 debut, not to mention the fact that they pioneered and defined an entire genre in the mid-2000s. But they understood the relationship they had to the audience in the room, never taking their attention for granted. I was as blown away by that as I was by the energy that carried them through even more mellow tracks like “Ihateit.”
By the time Skillet hit the stage, the audience was warmed up and ready for the flurry of riffs and barrage of lights accompanying “Feel Invincible.” Skillet plays to a wide array of audiences, and I always find it refreshing how consistent they are, whatever stage they’re on, in messaging and in musical excellence. “Whispers in the Dark” brought back nostalgia for listeners like me, while “Sick Of It” saw a roar of approval from rock radio listeners (encouraged by blasts from cryo canons strapped to John Cooper’s forearms).
With 23 years of experience, Skillet has nearly perfected the arena rock performance. With a multitude of moving parts, from raised platforms that Korey Cooper, Seth Morrison, and cellist Tate Olsen ride alternately on “Awake and Alive” to a raised drum platform that Jen Ledger smoothly transitioned on and off of for vocal solos, Skillet dials up the intensity well beyond the songs alone: they create an experience. And that experience is always marked by a sense of purpose and conviction, evident in the urgency of songs like “Hero,” “The Resistance,” and fan favorite “Rebirthing.”
It was almost hard to believe after Skillet left the stage that the headliner hadn’t even appeared yet. A restless crowd watched the crew drop a billowing white sheet over the stage. When the lights went out, there was a sense of collective breath being held– exhaled to scream along with the eerie opening melody of “Red Cold River.” The sheet dropped with the riffs, revealing plumes of pyro, silhouetting one of the most legendary acts in contemporary rock and roll.
Breaking Benjamin is the kind of rock band that has become a rarity in 2019. Despite the textured complexity of songs like “Breath,” “Blow Me Away,” and “Angels Fall,” Breaking Benjamin refuses to lean on tracks. Almost every sound in those songs was created live, proving the staggering skill of guitarists Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen in particular. Frontman Benjamin Burnley seemed to effortlessly manage the seemingly impossible task of maintaining the same vocal ferocity captured in the studio, flexing his way through rumbling growls and searing melodies. Songs like “I Will Not Bow” left the audience breathless just trying to scream every word along.
There was also a disarming approachability to Breaking Benjamin’s set, a difficult thing to achieve for songs so intense. At multiple points, Benjamin Burnley left the stage to sing with fans in the audience– often children. In fact, for their encore of “Dear Agony” and “Diary of Jane,” Burnley spent a good 5-10 minutes on the arena floor, finding parents and their kids and bringing at least a dozen families on stage with them. There was something so refreshingly non-rockstar about the entire thing, a proof that Breaking Benjamin understands entirely that their songs stand on the shoulders of the entire rock community.
And indeed, the entire evening was a picture of the rock community at its very best. As I mentioned earlier, consolidation in the rock industry is real, and it has caused some unfortunate casualties. But it’s also caused magical moments in time like this. Not only was the lineup diverse in terms of where the bands were coming from musically– it was a picture of what happens when men and women of widely varying beliefs interact with respect and honor for each other.
Skillet is formed by members that are devoutly Christian, and John Cooper clearly but graciously spoke about his love for Jesus before the band launched into their hit “Hero.” Both Underoath and Breaking Benjamin are groups of men who hold a wide array of beliefs about life and spirituality. For some of them, their relationship to belief has been much-discussed and complex. But for that evening, they all shared a stage, repeatedly voicing praises for each other. Benjamin Burnley fondly recalled the first time he asked Skillet how on earth they ended up with their band name. John Cooper gushed about how exciting it was to tour with Underoath for the first time.
That attitude on stage was reflected throughout the entire room. People of all ages, all backgrounds, all beliefs, were able to join each other under one roof and enjoy music, enjoy songs that served as deeply personal common ground in their stories.
Rock in 2019 is a slippery place to stand. But Breaking Benjamin, Skillet, and Underoath proved what happens when we lock arms as a community and hold each other up instead of letting each other fall. What they effectively created was a picture for the potential of our era, a standard of unity to fight for– and to enjoy with all our hearts when it’s found.
For a full list of tour dates for each band, visit:
Death Therapy has released the latest song from their upcoming album, a track titled “It’s OK,” featuring Matt Baird of Spoken.
The song follows close on the heels of “Feels Like Fiction,” a track featuring Garrett Russell of Silent Planet. Both songs are tastes of the band’s upcoming sophomore album Voices, which you can preorder here: solidstate.lnk.to/predt.
Voices drops on April 12. Death Therapy is the project of Jason Wisdom, formerly of Becoming the Archetype. Their 2017 album The Storm Before the Calm turned heads and won them major festival placements. To learn more about them and stay tuned for news surrounding the album release, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.