Conspiracy No. 5  
Artist: Third Day 
Label: Reunion 

Well, well, well, what do we have here?  Third Day is back with the follow-up to their self-titled debut, and this one smokes!  Gone is most of the Little Feat flavor that kept me from raving about their first release. The band's musical sound is definitely alternative now, with the Black Crowes' s southern rock leanings barely noticeable.  These guys have really grown up.  Their music has a  much harder edge.  If you weren't paying attention, you could easily confuse this with Pearl Jam. Wow! 

Mac's vocals were good before, but now they're awesome, sounding more like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) than Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish).  The change in production made a big difference.  Instead of the subdued qualities that came with their first album, his vocals are more raw, more natural, and far more powerful.  They enthrall where they lulled before, grabbing you by the ears and making you listen to what he has to say. 

As with the first album, there is no let down as far as the instrumentation goes - it is excellent.  Tai Anderson is a talented bass player; Brad Avery and Mark Lee know how to play guitar; and Ray Dillard is a real professional on the drums.  These guys work together to create a musical sound that is well above the average in the industry these days.  Did I say they sound like Pearl Jam? 

As with the vocals, the production takes a big step forward for the rest of  the sound too.  The instruments are clearer, more defined.  The guitars are louder, heavier, and definitely groove with crunch and grunge tones.  The drums and bass are there to support the sound and keep the rhythm, not flood it out or leave it sounding weak.  It takes the music that last step from above average to excellent.  It reminds me a lot of Pearl Jam. 

Most of the lyrics still have that Christian conviction in them that the first album did, but there are some exceptions like "You Make Me Mad," which is about music; "This Song was Meant for You," which tells the tale of lost love; and "Gomer's Theme," which tells about a cheating woman and a loving man--any of these would fit right in on any alternative radio station. 

Don't let the beginning of the first song fool you, this rocks!  "Peace" starts out with a jangly, mellow sound like Smalltown Poets.  Just as you turn up the volume, it knocks you down with a distorted guitar that will blow speakers.  Very Cool.  Mac's rambling phrasing and breathy baritone vocals here will make dedicated Eddie Vedder fans scramble for the liner notes to check who is singing.  

The fourth track, "Alien," is one of my favorite songs.  Based on Psalms 146:9 and Luke 19:10, it is a plea to the Father for salvation: 

    Keep your watch over me 
    Sustain the life in me 
    Frustrate the ways of every wicked man 

    Let me inside your home 
    Father defend my cause 
    Plead for my case and my innocence 

    (Chorus) 
    I am just like the alien the fatherless and the widow 
    I am just like the alien the fatherless and the widow 

    (Bridge) 
    Just like the alien I'm a stranger in a strange land 
    Just like the fatherless I'm in need of someone to take my hand 
    Just like the widow I need you right now to understand 
    And save me, 
    Won't you save me . . .

As the song progresses, the intensity level just keeps increasing.  By the time it closes, you're ready to explode from the energy.  Awesome! 

"Have Mercy" is the only throwback Black Crowes's type song.  "How's Your Head" and "Your Love Endures" still have a touch of that Hootie and the Blowfish sound, although the other mellower songs ("This Song Was Meant for You," and "Who I Am") sound more like (you guessed it) Pearl Jam.  Don't give up and pop this out after the end of the last song.  There is an awesome hidden jam about 5:12 into the final track. 

If you were expecting the Third Day of the debut album, you may be disappointed.  If you didn't like the first album because it was too mellow, you owe it to yourself to check this out.  This is a great buy!  

By Mark Aylor 

 

 
 

I remember being a young teenager and hearing my first Christian rock album.  I thought it was so cool that it sounded exactly like one of my favorite non-Christian bands but with Christian lyrics!  Then as I grew older I learned that Christian bands imitating "secular" ones more often than not simply reinforced my unsaved friends's opinion that there is nothing genuine or original about Christianity.  Third Day's new album throws me right back into those conflicting feelings.  I actually don't mind derivative music if it's done well.  And this album does it better than any I've ever heard, switching between Hootie and the Blowfish and Pearl Jam like the world's greatest cover band.  It gives me chills to hear my favorite vocal style--that deep lung-powered cry--with words that give glory to the Almighty. 

The lyrics are totally solid, mature, and very openly spiritual without resorting to cliche.  The music is excellent, able to compete with the best of the best big rock bands, and yet I'm embarassed by it.  Conspiracy No. 5 drops the Southern rock influences of the first album (thank-you), and shoots for a straight-ahead post-grunge modern rock sound, but the vocalist is trying to exactly imitate Eddie Vedder especially (and succeeding).  Why can't they do something original and creative?  I suppose he has to use the voice God gave him, but he could at least experiment some.  I'm definitely going to love this album, but it's going to be a painful pleasure.  I'm sure tons of kids are stoked to hear the familiar sounds just as I was at that age, but I'm hoping for the next album to be something I can play proudly for Christian and non-Christian alike. 

By Josh Spencer 

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Power pop Pearl Jam-esque praise music.  To be fair, Pearl Jam isn't the only influence.  Other sonic snippets arouse the reminiscence of many other bands, including such diverse inspirations as The Cure and Alabama.  Despite the lack of uniqueness and anything spectacular by way of music or lyrics, they've created a captivating mesh of encouraging lyrics and mostly upbeat sounds. The underlying themes celebrating love of God, country, and humankind are commendable.  The strength of the album lies in its ability to let you rock while offering prayers of praise, petition, thankfulness and longing. Some of these songs, notably "Peace," "You Make Me Mad," and "Have Mercy," are fitting foot-stompers with meritorious inspirational motifs.  Put Conspiracy #5 on your list of albums to encourage your soul and focus yourself for worship.    

By Steven Stuart Baldwin 

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