It's easy to tell what the latest craze in Christian music is. Just look at the independent bands, and if they all seem to be playing the same style of music, you've got yourself a trend. Lately, it seems that every unsigned Christian band in the nation is playing some derivative of hardcore. Labels like Screaming Giant and Bettie Rocket are signing these bands by the boatload, and you're no longer considered cool in the underground scene unless you sing the praises of the rage-filled genre of music. It seems like I can't go to a concert anymore without having to endure the off-tempo screaming of some lame local hardcore act.
But don't let the bands wading in the shallow end of the talent pool spoil you on the genre as a whole. Some Christian hardcore bands are simply incredible, the most notable of which being Payable On Death and Project 86. Another band worth their proverbial salt is Every Day Life, or EDL as they are now called. EDL didn't merely bring rapcore to Christendom - they were playing the music long before anyone had ever heard of Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit. And now, after two critically acclaimed albums spilling over with angst and rage, the band seems to be taking a more commercial approach to their music, adding more rap and less core.
Songs like "Endurance" and "Relocate" could do excellently on secular alternative radio, with their rapid-fire vocals, crunchy guitars and fat, greasy bass lines. "Time to Change" even has a melody and a horn section, courtesy of new bass player Jeff Elbel (Farewell to Juliet, LSU). Lest fans fear they're losing their edge, however, several songs, including "Let it Ride" are pure hardcore, complete with torturous animal screams.
Some bands, such as POD and Ludi-Kriss, call their music "worship," and bend the lyrics specifically towards that angle. EDL is obviously not one of those bands. The lyrics are incredibly angry at some points, and focus mainly on broken relationships. Songs such as "Wrecking Ball" condemn the band's critics, while "Sunshine (I Promise You)" begs for a friendship to be restored. On that same note, a paragraph in the liner notes says:
EDL say no thanks to the takers, fakers, reducers, wrecking balls, crumb snatchers, diminishers and those who would used us and stole from us. You know who you are, and we didn't forget you.
EDL, however, is at their best when they're political. Chief lyricist Tedd Cookerly has a way with words, and can certainly spit them out at a rapid-fire pace, as well. "Represent" is the most obviously political song, expressing Cookerly's feelings about the flying of the Confederate flag:
ask why does this social structure sag
Moment of Clarity's major flaw is the poor arrangements of some of the songs. "Sunshine (I Promise You)" and "The Choice Is Yours" in particular are ruined by obnoxious backing vocals. The lame rap posturing that permeates some of the songs is also rather annoying.
Despite these minor flaws, though, EDL has crafted a handbook of sorts for the disenfranchised. Moment of Clarity is an excellent album to listen to when one is angry.
Michial Farmer 9/16/99
What a shame that when Christian music finally graduates some quality bands to the mainstream, they release sub par albums. While there are some high quality songs such as the radio ripe "Represent" and the screaming, classic EDL hardcore of "Let It Ride", the atrocious rapping that permeates many of the songs ruins a good portion of this album. The contrast between the polished radio ready tracks such as "Represent," and the awful rapping and wretched beats of "The Choice Is Yours," and the shorter punk-derived "Big Casino" makes for a jagged listening experience. While some of the aforementioned songs are excellent examples of what EDL is and can do, the rest are pure album filler.
Lyrics such as:
We ask why does this social structure sag?from "Represent" show that EDL is still a band to tackle the tough issues, such as racism in "Represent" and tough love relationships in "Sunshine (I Promise You). While the commercial element that EDL has attempted to introduce has given them a few polished tracks, the abundance of weak material is inexcusable. EDL has two prior albums under its belt, and should know better.
Joe Rockstroh 11/19/99