I swear, it is not often that I come across a Christian metal band that plays technical death metal with a side of deathcore. Seriously! The only other ones I can recall are Impending Doom and With Blood Comes Cleansing — both are Christian deathcore acts. Frankly, I wish I heard more of this stuff. I remember back in my younger days when I looked into Christian music, I found a couple of decent acts (like Tourniquet, I love their Stop the Bleeding album), but most of them came across as overly preachy and the music suffered. When it comes to these deathcore acts (and the genre in general), the lyrics are important, but more often than not they are unintelligible. I mean, the vocalists do seem to pride themselves on their ability to growl.
Brutal, heavy, and unrelenting. I Built the Cross are dedicated to their craft and to their calling to spread the love of Jesus Christ. It is a mission the quintet has taken on for themselves and one that they reiterate through the songs lyrics. Of course, you have to check online or in the liner notes to see what it is that he's saying as all of the lyrics are delivered in a deep guttural growl or a high-pitched shriek.
Bridging the Gap Between Heart and Mind begins with a narration speaking fighting a guerrilla war, about using the enemies weapons against them. In the case of I Built the Cross, that war is with Satan and enemies of Christ. They make no attempt to disguise their faith, and I applaud them for that. In fact, when describing the band on their MySpace page they refer to it first as being a ministry to spread the love and grace that Jesus Christ has shared with us and secondly as a technical death metal band. It takes a lot of guts to do this as I cannot believe it is popular with mainstream metal, or metal in general, to be people of faith.
On top of their considerable skills and their faith, they are also very young. All of the band members are between the ages of 19 and 20. They certainly have accomplished a lot at a young age and to think their skills are still developing and maturing. This album shows a good deal of skill on display from their speed to their technical skills and ability to craft a good song. Their next couple of albums will likely show those skills become more finely honed and focused.
The production quality of the album is a little to the rough side. This works both to the benefit and detriment of the songs. On one hand, the rawness gives them an edgier timbre that is probably pretty close to their live sound. On the other hand, sharper production could have improved the songs by making them a bit more crisp and defined. Still, the music does fight its way through and that is what really matters.
So, when you pick this up, you are going to want to focus on: "Head High Heavy Heart," "Borrowed Parts," "Hatred for the Religious," and "To Deface Grace."
Bottomline. If you like your music fast, heavy, brutal, and with a promise of better things to come, I Built the Cross is a band you will want to check out. Also, if you are looking for Christian music, or music with a positive message of faith while still having an edge, this could also be the band for you.