Just over a year after the release of their debut album Costs, Christian hardcore outfit Gideon are back. If there’s anything that their sophomore effort Milestone proves, it’s that these guys have a little bit more distance to climb before they reach the point where hearty hardcore bands such as The Ghost Inside, Stick To Your Guns, and Hundredth currently reside. This is due to a meshing of strengths and weaknesses that are encapsulated within the veins of this living, breathing monster. Some of these weaknesses can be overlooked and some of them seem to affect other elements of the record. However, even with its negatives crossing with its positives, this record is solid as a rock, or in this case, a milestone.
While Milestone is a very tight record – the guitars are powerful and teeming, swiftly racing between drum fills and bass beats with precision and intensity – a lot of its material runs together. Where Costs had song after song of memorable choruses, breakdowns and lyrics, it’s hard to pick out the cream of the crop from Milestone. It’s definitely an album that grabs your attention, but lacks any standout qualities. The first few tracks are some of the best cuts off the record, but from there, it seems to break you down and your attentiveness seems to drown out due to repetitive melodies and guitar riffs. I usually expect some sort of break or change-up sound-wise, but Gideon hits just as hard on every song (excluding the beautiful acoustic title track). It’s great if you want to listen to a couple songs at a time, but you’ll probably get bored if you want to play through all 33 minutes in one sitting.
The repetitiveness of this album could be due to the similar structuring throughout. Most songs feature all screaming (and similar vocal arrangements at that) while breakdowns and guitar blasts fill in the gaps. Though there are some gang vocals here and there, I really wish the band would’ve used some clean vocals to add some versatility and memorability to the album. That being said, cleans aren’t a necessity to make a memorable hardcore album; some standout lyrics and melodies could’ve given this record the upright conviction and uplifting ability that powers some of my favorite contemporary hardcore records.
Good hardcore should be ripe with heart, mind, and soul, and Milestone has all three of these things. Even some of the most dull, repetitive breakdowns are often brought to life by the band’s lyrics – for instance, in “Gutter,” a song that has the speaker reminding a faithless friend that he’ll always be there for him. Other tracks such as “No Acceptance” and “Prodigal Son” are just empowering. A lot of this album is very morally upright, as these guys are Christians who take their faith very seriously. However, with how intense and scorching things can be on this album (some of it even reminds me of Hatebreed), in the end, especially coming from later tracks such as “Still Alive” and “Maternity,” there is a lot of compassion to be found in the lyrics.
While I have heard hardcore albums far beyond the current capabilities of Gideon on Milestone, I can’t help but say this is a very solid record. In no way is it as good as Costs, but it still has an assortment of good songs. The thing I love most about Milestone is that the band’s passion and hard work really comes through. Thanks to the heart of this record, Gideon keep their head above water. How long they can stay above the surface, however, depends heavily on their next effort.