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  Picking Up the Pieces
Artist: Seventh Day Slumber 
Tracks/Time: 10 tracks/37:51

Like the all-seeing eye of Sauron in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, hard rock bands, following in the footsteps of Creed, POD, and Incubus, are inescapable in today’s music scene. Youth-group-friendly bands bent on ministering to kids struggling with drugs or broken homes aren’t exactly anomalies, either; they hop around like jackrabbits in the contemporary Christian music world, especially.

One listen to "Picking Up the Pieces," the mainstream debut of rock quartet Seventh Day Slumber, lays to rest any doubts that this band lands squarely in both camps mentioned above. From the jostling blast of album opener “I Know,” it’s clear that these guys are comfortably strolling on musical trails blazed by other artists, and their lyrics are obviously intended to do nothing more than share Christ with teens. Just sample the chorus of “Candy,” a song that has already seen some success on Christian rock radio: “Your love’s like candy/ or something I’ve never tasted before/ And you take me places/ I never dreamed I could go.”

So these guys ain’t poets nor are they aural innovators. But here’s the rub: they’re not supposed to be. Their goal is not to make great art. They’re not even trying to tread new sonic ground. And penning complex, profound lyrics isn’t at the top of their to-do list. “When Seventh Day Slumber is done, I want people to say we’ve made a difference in people’s lives,” says bassist Joshua Schwartz. So what if they’re not on the same creative plain as Radiohead and Over the Rhine? If Schwartz speaks for the whole band, then these guys have already met their goal.

“I Know,” a gleeful burst of pure rock ‘n’ roll fire, opens with the line “I wonder what could be so bad that it makes you want to die/ I wonder what could be so tragic that it makes you want to take your life.” Switchfoot these guys ain’t. They do get in a clever thought with the following sentiment, though: “You have your Savior on the cross/ While you sit on the throne/ Put yourself upon that cross/ Put your Savior on the throne.” Touche.

That’s basically where the good writing stops; audiophiles in search of insight need not consider these guys. When it comes to providing hope to kids in a rut, though- which is clearly what these guys were shooting for- few bands in recent memory have come across as powerful or as effective as Seventh Day Slumber. “How could you love a man like me?” asks “My Struggle,” which continues with the lament, “there must be some mistake/ cause I’m not worth the price you paid.” This kind of real-life, almost angsty honesty is just what makes Seventh Day Slumber a powerful weapon in the battle to save the American teenager.

When it comes to their sound, this band is almost as devoid of creativity as they are when composing their lyrics, but, again, this may or may not be a bad thing. If it takes a healthy dose of sonic creativity to float your boat, then Picking Up the Pieces isn’t the sonic vessel for you; the dark guitar riffs, thick bass lines, and thrashing drum cadences make every track on the album sound like an outtake from a Creed or Incubus recording session. Still, the sweet pop hook on “Spiraling” and the devastating wave of energy on “Running Away” (alas, not a Luna Halo cover) will put a smile on the face of any seasoned headbanger.

And, really, that comment alone will probably make Seventh Day Slumber forgive me for all the negativity in this review. This is one band that isn’t about making a poetic statement or creating avant-garde art. They’re simply about relating to kids. Being servants to the needy. That’s something that not even the critic in me can find anything to gripe about.

Josh Hurst 3/15/2003

For as short as it is, (just over 37 minutes), Seventh Day Slumber rocks hard and rocks well. Picking Up The Pieces, self-produced by the band and mixed by Guardian's Tony Palacios, is the band's breakthrough album. With fearless abandon, the quartet belts out cuts like "Innocence" and "Candy" with an earnestness that is convincing. Opening track "I Know" delivers a solid message with lyrics like this:

You have your Savior on the cross 
While you sit on the throne 
Put yourself up on that cross 
And put your Savior on the throne
Cutting guitars, driving drums and bass, and intense vocals combine with raw energy and a heavy beat for the majority of the album, but the band shows its musicality on tracks like "More" with a clean, acoustic-based sound.

Fans of King's X will find a lot to like in Seventh Day Slumber's rock style. While the lyrics are more straightforward and simple, the message is clear, and the method is what will hold the listeners attention. If Seventh Day Slumber can consistently put out music of this high quality, there will be another force to reckon with on the hard music scene.

Zik Jackson  5/8/2003
www.zikjackson.com 
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