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Music Review: I Built the Cross – Bridging the Gap Between Heart and Mind

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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.


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About Draven99

  • Here is what I believe Christianity is all about. It was written by a very young (24) woman named Sarah Rachel Thomson, an Alabaman by birth. Her words are light. At the bottom is a link to her blog. Happy reading, folks!

    Tom Degan

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    thinking day

    When I lost my job almost exactly one year ago, I immediately began looking for work both in Huntsville, Alabama and in Memphis, Tennessee. I came in contact with the Church Health Center in Memphis and signed on to do some volunteer work. I met with directors and editors and took home faith-related books to review. Then I found a job in retail, then a few months later I landed the job I have now. In between I was juggling being a newly married woman and living on my salary alone for the two of us. I had, to say the least, a lot to figure out.

    The books lay neglected in my bookshelves, forgotten and dusty. A few days ago I received an e-mail asking me to bring the books back if I was not going to review them. I mentally calculated the months I had these books in my possession, and then the months of empty promises of reviews I had committed.

    This weekend I opened the first of three books I took home last year, called “Making Poverty Personal” by Ash Barker. I diligently took notes, read carefully, and then found myself skimming through the last third of the book. I tried to explain what lacked in the book to Stephen, and I couldn’t. The message was clear, and good. Everything was oriented in scripture. But…I don’t know. I didn’t jump up and run out the door to DO something.

    Now, because I am a Thomson and my father’s child, I feel I MUST complete this task. But I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps I was the wrong reader for this book. I referenced a number of my own books, from the desert abbas to Joachim Jeremias. As the day dragged on, I found other things to occupy my time, rather than writing. The challenge is, how do I make this message and call relevant, interesting, and motivational?

    I think for me, this task is less about saying whether a book is good or not and more about providing some sort of hope. Stephen and I live below the poverty line, intentionally, but we are not poor in spirit, and we have the kind of life that is full and happy. But many are not so fortunate. The poor and impoverished in spirit have been a central theme in Christian teachings since the ministry of Jesus, yet it is so easily ignored. We tend to think as Americans that poverty exists in slums in third world countries, or on commercials advertising sponsorship for African children.

    As we see our own American economy decline, and as it is sure to only get worse in the coming years, more Americans that never thought about “being poor” are now dealing with the very realities that come with loss of income. Those who exist solely in their belongings have identity crises because their self-worth cannot be tied to what they own. What will their friends think? What will their children, their parents say? Poverty, as it seems, is not just a bank account–it is indeed a state of mind.

    For those who are wrapped up in what they own, in the “right” lifestyle, in the “right” stuff, Jesus’ message may fall a little flat. The attitude is off. They are self-suffering, martyrs to their own god of money. But for the downtrodden, the working man and woman, the child on free lunch, the mother working two and three jobs to pay bills, Jesus’ message is a ray of light and hope. A day of judgment will come. God is both mighty and merciful, and He is not blind to the injustice that happens in this country and around the world. Greed will be punished. Those who take so others may not have will be judged on the day of reckoning. Jesus came with a sword to judge the quick and the dead.

    So where are we in all of this? What is, in fact, our call?

    We look after the least of these. Whatever our talent, we use that to the greater glory of God’s will. We feed people, we clothe them, we house them, we educate their children with the best resources. We elect officials who will care for those who have no voice. We will sacrifice so that all of God’s children can live a life of peace, happiness, and light. We will look around us, at the things we do not need, at the wealth we have amassed, and we will strive for something Higher, Greater, more heavenly. We will give our riches to the poor, and we will, yes, we will, take up that cross and march to Higher Ground.

    In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

    Sarah Rachel Thomson