The Midnight Wedding is debuting their music video “Powerless” exclusively on Rock On Purpose. You can watch the video, which was created by ATD Media, below.
The Midnight Wedding is a Christian rock group led by Caitlin and Brandon Trlak. The song “Powerless” is an introduction to their heart as a band.
“‘Powerless’ is about overcoming addiction, fear, worry, doubt, hopelessness, and depression,” the Trlaks share. “It’s a song of empowerment for those who are struggling with the lies that the world tells us: that we are not enough. If we stand in the grace of Jesus Christ, we can overcome everything we face. Our hope as artists is that our music will reach the lost, hopeless, rejected, outcast, and broken, to give them hope in Christ– that their life has purpose and meaning, and that whatever they are facing, they are not alone in this fight. We want the listener to know that the giants they are facing are Powerless.”
That theme of overcoming is captured visually in the video.
In their highly-anticipated second album, Living Scars has created an interesting amalgamation of theatrical and heavy sounds with a dash of electronic sprinkled beneath. Above the Ashes is not only a collection of good songs; this entire album is an experience, from start to finish.
The piano and strings on “Recalibrate” build up anticipation with the help of gentle drum samples that lead into the fulfillment of the full band joining the mix. The song keeps the feeling of an intense theatrical score all the way through, finishing abruptly with the screams of bassist Adam Renteria stating the album’s theme with the words “When the darkness comes, we will rise above the ashes.”
“Fall in Line” begins with a catchy, driving riff from guitarist Austin Schroeder. The heaviness remains throughout the rest of the piece, only fully backing off for the first appearance of the refrain. Vocalist Parker Crook demonstrates his dynamic voice throughout this piece, going from soaring falsetto to classic hard rock cleans. Lyrically, this song focuses on making the decision to live like Christ, even when it seems better to fall in line with the rest of the world.
The music intensifies with help from Chandler Crooks’ drum work in “Monument.” There’s a raw feeling of betrayal buried in both the music and the lyrics. The song ends with a breakdown that pairs well with the intro to the next track, “Wide Awake.” The mood easily shifts into a raging fight song that displays lyrics such as “I’ll stand for something and fall for nothing.”
“Escape” brings a theatrical sound reminiscent of Within Temptation; the music perfectly fits with the regretful desperation in the lyrics:
“And I know what I’ve done I spilled all the blood And I want to change Help me escape.”
Including guest vocals from Amongst the Giants’ Brian Boyd, “Hollow” is another anthem of pain and betrayal. The vocals compliment each other while the track beautifully melds radio rock and heavy metal breakdowns into a masterpiece.
The album slows for a bit with another perfect song pairing in “Misery” and “Deceived.” These two songs create an interlude of painfully beautiful honesty about humanity’s inherent weakness. “(Sic)” rounds off the interlude with an exquisite instrumental that perfectly leads into the escalating introduction to “Breakdown.” The invigorating music matches the words, ascending from the depths of the previous few songs:
“I feel it coursing through my veins The pressure’s rising, it’s okay ‘Cause it brings me right to you.”
“Into the Dark” is a determined war anthem featuring tasteful hints of synth among blaring guitars and raging drums. The intensity grows as the title track begins. “Above the Ashes” encapsulates the album’s theme in a passionate blend of heavy metal and uncompromising lyrics, fading into completion with a delicate score similar to the previous mellower songs.
The album officially finishes with a mashup of two previously released songs in “Broken Change (Crooked Remix).” Although the upbeat electronic sound doesn’t blend with the rest of the album, it’s an equally excellent bonus tune that’s worth a listen.
Above the Ashes is a masterpiece that honestly explores the depths of the human experience. The music feels like pain, betrayal, and triumph; the lyrics outline an epic journey of running away, repeatedly failing to stand alone, and finally returning home.
“Take my life into your hands Leave my memories in the past Open the door to a world with so much more Watch me rise above the ashes.”
When the final notes of “(*Fin)” rang out at the end of Anberlin’s last show in 2014, the band’s devout fanbase expected they would never hear that transcendent musical chemistry again. Bands come and go every day, especially in an era where it is harder than ever to play rock and roll professionally. But the musical community seemed to feel this loss particularly keenly, knowing that the once-in-a-lifetime tones effortlessly created by Anberlin could never be replaced.
“We’ll live forever,” Stephen Christian belted over the outro chords of “(*Fin).”
2019 has proved those words were a kind of prophecy, sung from the band’s deathbed.
When a reunion show happened in Florida last December, fans instantly made it clear: they wanted more. Anberlin has delivered this summer with a full North American tour. I threw my camera gear in my car and drove to Dallas for the tour’s first night– a particularly nostalgic experience for me, as I grew up going to Anberlin shows in Dallas a decade ago.
We live in an era when nostalgia is one of the most marketable commodities. While the current industry environment can be forbidding to newer acts trying to claim their own legacy, bands who have not charted on the radio since the 90s can make a very tidy living playing moderately sized venues full of listeners reliving their best memories. And there is absolutely value to the nostalgia tour, even though it is usually held to different musical standards of excellence.
The question could easily be asked about Anberlin’s run across America: what category does it fall under? It’s been half a decade since Anberlin’s farewell, and they’ve made it clear that at this time they have no firm plans for music to come. This means it’s not your standard, album-promo-cycle tour. But within the first moments of the gritty intro to “Godspeed,” drifting over an ecstatic House of Blues crowd, it was clear that this is not just a nostalgia tour either. Anberlin’s musical mastery is still very much alive– as is the passion of their fans.
The band rolled through three fan favorites to open the set: “Godspeed,” “Never Take Friendship Personal,” and “Paperthin Hymn.” The energy was breathtaking, the band on stage captivating, always in motion. Each of the riff-heavy songs was carried by Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney, offering the searing guitar tones that are Anberlin’s signature.
Free from the constraints of any guideline aside from the songs everyone in the room universally wanted to sing, there was the sense that Anberlin found a lot of joy in choosing the evening’s setlist. The list skewed Cities-centric, a wise choice in a room full of people who likely have that album intertwined with their own coming of age. With “Hello Alone,” “Adelaide,” and “Dismantle. Repair,” the room was seemingly transported into the emotional experience of loving and losing and becoming. Stephen Christian’s ethereal voice never had to carry a single note alone, only breaking away from the roaring melody of the crowd for an occasional seemingly impossible ascent, such as when he held a note in “Unwinding Cable Car” perfectly on pitch for what felt like minutes. The participatory element was taken to the next level when the band brought a fan on stage to sing most of “Inevitable.”
There was a strong showing from other moments in the discography too. Upbeat “A Day Late” and melancholic “Time and Confusion” gave further representation to Never Take Friendship Personal. Even New Surrender, an album often overshadowed by its one massive radio single (“Feel Good Drag”) had a strong showing with “Disappear” and “The Resistance.” In addition to “Impossible,” “Down” came from Dark is the Way, Light is a Place and offered an acoustic moment that led to heartfelt encouragement from Stephen Christian to fight for positive change in a world so needy of our voices and our time freely given.
As the band worked in more songs from their last two albums, Vital and Lowborn, towards the end of the set, there was almost a desperation in the voices of fans still singing along strong– as if yet again, they didn’t want it all to end. As if they could be sweating and singing in that one moment for the rest of time. “Feel Good Drag” closed off the main set, prompting a rowdy rock show moment of flying hair and microphones extended off stage and into the crowd to amplify their already deafening roar. Appropriately, Anberlin ended the night with “(Fin*),” the great magnum opus about death, God, addiction, and the way we all stumble blindly towards the light.
Maybe the best question that could be asked of Anberlin right now is simply how. How does a band fully let go of their career, do zero promotion for nearly five years, and come back to sell out venues across the country? How does a band overcome the digital overcrowd, calling fans who were once Warped Tour kids and are now parents and professionals back into the gritty clubs to sing along? If Anberlin’s immortal, how exactly did they achieve that?
The question of how to make immortal art is an obvious one that has been asked since the dawn of creativity itself. After watching Anberlin light a room of souls on fire in Dallas, I would hazard my guess at an answer: if you want to be immortal as a band, sings immortal songs. Sing about the universal human experiences of suffering, love, loss, joy, the process of digging meaning out of the wreckage we all find ourselves in. Connection is immortal. Hope is immortal. And with those eternal things central to everything Anberlin is, I think they really might live forever.
All photos by Chad Fenner and Mary Nikkel. See the full gallery here.
If you’re feeling as nostalgic as we are, revisit my interview from Anberlin’s 2014 farewell tour at the link below.
Skillet announced last week that they were awarded the “Billionaire Award” by Pandora, one of the oldest online music streaming service. This is given to artists after they reach one billion listens– Skillet has surpassed two billion. Skillet profusely thanked their fans for this milestone.
Pandora gave them the highest praise. Melissa Riddle, Pandora’s Programming Curator, said “Skillet is without peer in the world of fist-pumping, faith-informed rock, a rare kind of band that shatters stereotypes and marketing plans, while tapping into emotional DNA of people from all walks of life, believers and skeptics alike.”
This week has been abounding with Skillet news, not only with the Pandora Billionaire’s Award, but with the drop of two more tracks off their forthcoming album Victorious. These tracks are called “Anchor” and “Save Me.” They have released lyric videos for both, which you can watch below.
To keep up with Skillet’s current tour dates, information, releases, and photos, follow these links:
Pop rock band Attaboy is newest addition to Radiate Music, the unique studio/management/label fusion helmed by producer Ian Eskelin (founding member of All Star United). Along with the announcement, the band christened the new era by releasing “Waking Up.”
The Indiana-based band has made a name for themselves playing concerts and camps across the country. “Waking Up” is the first taste of an upcoming full length album. The band enlisted Doug Weier (Anberlin, We Are Leo) for the track.
Guitarist Jeff Edgel describes the song as a kind of call to action. “In a world filled with hatred and barriers attempting to separate us, the song celebrates living a life characterized by unity and love.”
RED released highly anticipated single “The Evening Hate” on Friday, June 7, the first track in their new independent chapter. Their own new label served as the launching pad for the single.
“The Evening Hate” has an accompanying short film, continuing RED’s tradition of pairing intense cinematic videos with their music. The song was distributed through The Fuel Music (Thousand Foot Krutch, Lacey Sturm).
The title itself references history, using the name that soldiers on the front lines of World War I gave to relentless enemy bombing. “While we all experience or witness hate throughout life, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, we all have the ability to crawl out and rise above such a tremendous adversary, hell bent on division and destruction. Without hate, the world would never know what true love really is,” bassist Randy Armstrong explains.
The band’s independent label is built from direct fan support, allowing them full creative freedom. The result is a full-octane rock sound on “The Evening Hate” like RED fans have come to love and expect. “Now with total control, fans won’t have to wait for music to come out every two to three years!” guitarist Anthony Armstrong explained. “We can do what we want, when we want and with whomever we want in order to make the best rock music we know how.”
Lacey Sturm and Benjamin Burnley (Breaking Benjamin) both shared some exciting news on Instagram yesterday: they’re working in the studio together.
It’s not clear yet if the collaboration is for a future Breaking Benjamin project, or for the long-awaited second full length album from Lacey Sturm. But both singers were excited for the opportunity. “Wow what a voice!!!!! Very special thank you to @ilovejoshsturm@officiallaceysturmfor doing this!” Benjamin Burnley shared in his post. “Such an amazing job so honored to be a part of this with you!”
Lacey Sturm reposted the photo but didn’t give away too many clues. Her husband (who also is her guitar player) hinted on his own Instagram “Got some cool music projects coming up with @officiallaceysturm.”
This Breaking Benjamin collaboration follows up some intense writing sessions for Lacey with Skillet. She also recently released a set of devotional songs to accompany her study (find them at reflectloveback.com). Fans have been eagerly clamoring for a follow up to 2016’s album Life Screams— and it looks like that might not be too far off.
Skillet just announced that their album Unleashed has been certified gold. Unleashed was released two and a half years ago and has been played on nine different tours and in over 23 countries.
To be certified gold by the RIAA, an album has to sell over 500,000 units– a rare feat in the age of streaming. The album is highlighted by tracks like “Feel Invincible,” “The Resistance,” and “Back from the Dead.”
Skillet just returned from performing several dates in Russia and has announced yet another tour, The Victorious War Tour, with Sevendust. They also have announced their new record Victorious for release later this year, launching the first track off that upcoming album, titled “Legendary.”
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.