Christian Rock

SWEETEVERAFTER – Adoration Project (EP)

SWEETEVERAFTER Adoration Project (EP) (release date: February 2, 2018) www.sweeteverafter.net By Bob Marovich Nearly ten years ago, husband-and-wife team Ammee Pearl and Jay Huzil formed SWEETEVERAFTER, a Christian group with a hard rock center. They earned a Metal Song of the Year nomination from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. The duo’s latest release, the Adoration Project EP, is decidedly mellower than their earlier output. They set aside their electronic gear to hone in on the nitty gritty of some urgent messages. Huzil’s acoustic guitar leads a low-key ensemble of strings, soft percussion, piano, a flute that floats around the music, and the high, lonesome ...

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Steven Cermele – HealThy Heart

Steven Cermele HealThy Heart SLC Records (release date: December 8, 2017) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Although a professional singer and drummer in secular music for more than 25 years, Steven Cermele has spent the past decade focused exclusively on singing and playing in church. In other words, he’s “divinely rearranged,” as he sings on the title track of his new album, HealThy Heart. Eleven self-penned selections combine the simplicity of southern gospel with the electric drive of country rock. Cermele’s best offerings on HealThy Heart are straight-ahead, no-nonsense southern gospel selections such as “If I Don’t Have Jesus.” The melody, ...

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Imari Tones – Jesus Wind

Imari Tones Jesus Wind (release date: November 7, 2017) https://imaritones.bandcamp.com/album/jesus-wind By Bob Marovich If you are not familiar with the Imari Tones, they are a Christian heavy metal band from Japan. Their latest release, Jesus Wind, is a concept album about the development of Christianity in Japan, a largely Buddhist nation. Although I listened to heavy metal in my youth, I never paid much attention to the lyrics, so it took some acclimation for me to get to the kernel of the message on Jesus Wind (the lyrics are, with rare exception, in English). What I distill from Jesus Wind is this: the group weaves ...

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Adam Everett – If You Are Weary

Adam Everett If You Are Weary Polytone Records (release date: May 11, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/adameverett By Bob Marovich If John Hiatt made a gospel album, it would sound like Adam Everett’s If You Are Weary. This eight-track collection of hymns and newly-composed songs is the product of a new breed of young alt-gospel artists such as the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers (who opened for Everett’s album release party), Liz Vice, and Eli “The Paperboy” Reed. Together, they are taking to church the Americana soul-country-rock melange rekindled by the Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, and Neko Case (who has covered some gospel on ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Preview New Song and Video

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers premiere their video of “Lay Down Low,” a new song recorded in a historic nineteenth-century Episcopal church in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. The song is from the group’s forthcoming album, No Glory. “‘Lay Down Low’ started with a simple little melody for the verses. I wrote what I thought could be a concise telling of the story of Jesus using that melody as a springboard. I wanted something bittersweet for the chorus that had some teeth and gave the story an arc. I used a melody that could be percussively barked and had no home ...

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Rick Stephenson – My Everything

Rick Stephenson My Everything N-Siteful Music (release date: August 1, 2016) www.rickstephensonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Rick Stephenson is no stranger to the recording studio. My Everything represents his latest album in at least four full-length CDs in his career. The new album contains ten radio-sized and pleasantly rendered pieces by Stephenson, a Johnson Creek, Wisconsin-based artist whose songwriting technique suggests he is an astute student of the pop song. Indeed, as a youth, Stephenson spent a great deal of time listening to Top 40 radio, and it shows.  The self-professed “Pop Gospel Musician-ary” links lyrics of faith and gratitude ...

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“Steel Wheels” – Imari Tones

“Steel Wheels” Imari Tones From the album Revive the World www.imaritones.net Some stomp on the devil’s head. The Imari Tones crush bad under their steel wheels. Which is an appropriate metaphor from a Christian heavy metal band. Hailing from Japan, where only five percent of the population is Christian, the Imari Tones are indeed an anomaly. They started out as a straight-up heavy metal band, naming themselves after the founding member’s girlfriend (now wife). But Imari is also used to describe a style of Japanese painted pottery. So when the trio became the country’s first band to blend heavy metal with ...

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Stryper – Fallen

Stryper Fallen Frontiers Music srl (release date: October 16, 2015) www.stryper.com By Bob Marovich For Christians about to rock, we salute you. Immediately following the Gothic a cappella harmonies that open Fallen, Stryper’s eleventh full-length original album, the four-man Christian metal band rock relentlessly until the CD screeches to a stop some fifty minutes later.  Guitars thrash, gnash, and gnarl, drums and bass craft complex rhythmic shapes, and Michael Sweet lofts soaring cries and glass-shattering high notes into the heavens. The godfathers of Christian metal deliver the goods on every track of Fallen. “Yahweh,” written with Clint Lowery of Sevendust and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2015

“The Story of Love” 6th Day Made www.6thdaymade.com Wonder what U2 would sound like as a Christian rock band? Look no further than “The Story of Love” by 6th Day Made. Mark Maggard’s thickly layered guitar, Jason Eaton’s tenor vocals hurled skyward, and the marching band rhythm of Randy Healy and Jeff Trent bring the Dublin dynamos vividly to mind. Lyrically, the Michigan band paints a portrait of love as arms stretched outward on a cross and offers an apocryphal message by imploring the listener to “let the world hear, let the world know….it won’t be long.” This is the ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Heavenly Fire

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Heavenly Fire Ba Da Bing (release date: August 7, 2015) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich What originated as a group of friends jamming on old gospel songs distilled into the five-member Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. The Los Angeles group’s full-length debut, Heavenly Fire, declares their earthy conviction for true living through details of personal struggles and Bible tales that sound ripped from the pages of William Faulkner. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers blend alt-country, rockabilly, and gospel into a mix somewhere between Wilco, Neko Case, and the Staple Singers. At the same time, the group’s expansive, extroverted harmonies, fronted by ...

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