I remember back when Seventh Day Slumber released Once Upon a Shattered Life in 2005, and remember even more vividly when I bought it off iTunes and went back to it again and again. I loved the aggressiveness and technicality of it, in addition to the sincerity of the soft songs, specifically “Oceans From The Rain,” a song I still hold in my heart as probably my favorite worship song ever. It’s been a good six years since the band released that cornerstone Christian rock album, and with their newest release, The Anthem of Angels, they haven’t topped the album, but they have definitely taken big strides back.
Everything is different for Seventh Day Slumber. First off, they don’t rock as hard as they used to. Second, they sound just like a lot of other Christian rock bands out there, with good intentions, but a history of repetitive, unoriginal lyrics and simplistic melodies. They tried to combine the sounds from 2009’s Take Everything with their rockier, more alt-metal selves from 2005’s Shattered Life and 2007’s Finally Awake, and combine that into one entity. Even with a few enjoyable tracks, The Anthem of Angels fails in creativity. Musically, the record doesn’t do anything too out of the ordinary.
Album opener “Wasted Life” reminds me a bit of earlier Seventh Day Slumber, with a more grungy, yet toned-down feel. It sounds like one of those radio rock bands like Daughtry or Day of Fire that whets their music down so it appeals to everyone, and that doesn’t work too well. Hey, it might be sincere, but it’s purely unoriginal and bland. Tracks like “One Mistake” and “Pieces,” tracks that have plain lyrics and choruses, just make me miss the days of Once Upon A Shattered Life, where everything was so pure and heartfelt. I expected “Crash” to be a mirror image of Decyfer Down’s “Crash,” but its brethren has much more expanse and technicality. It’s just another song with a flat chorus and passionate yet shallow lyrics. Some fans may feel indifferent, but as a longtime fan, I found them to be incomplete.
Even with Seventh Day Slumber lacking the spark that they typically have, vocalist Joseph Rojas keeps singing for his life throughout each of the pain-stricken, healing choruses. “Never Too Far Gone” is a song that exemplifies the way the band thinks, and that’s the fact that even if he’s overcome amazing obstacles in his life, including a drug addiction, his life is still not perfect. This imperfect Christian philosophy is something that I am proud to get behind and support. The only confusing thing is the contradicting album title, as I would expect something titled The Anthem of Angels to be a worship project. Though it is a slightly softer album, with a lot more emotional sounds and orchestrated effects, it is pretty far from a worship record.
The heavy tracks are the most enjoyable, but there’s only three of them. The other eight, though I enjoyed a few of them, come up short of my expectations, including a weak cover of David Crowder Band’s “How He Loves.” Some fans may love this record, especially people who listen to Christian radio and enjoy bands like Sanctus Real and Skillet. I, for one, found little to no redeeming qualities in it, and in a few weeks, I doubt I’ll be coming back for multiple listens. The Anthem of Angels may be sincere, but it’s far from the best effort I’ve seen out of these guys.