Downhere On the Altar of Love as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothAs wise master builders, Downhere return to the foundation and fill the breaches.

On the Altar of Love
Artist: Downhere (
Label: Centricity
Length: 12 tracks/47:13 minutes

“‘If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’” (Psalm 11:3 ESV). On the Altar of Love, Downhere goes back to the foundations of the Christian faith.

It starts appropriately with “Only the Beginning,” a song that encourages listeners to “press ahead, forget what’s behind” for God fulfills his promises. The chorus of “Rest” comes from Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (ESV). As Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, said, “The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words— ‘Come unto me.’ Not ‘do this, or don’t do that’; but—‘Come unto me.’” This truth makes the song special, for the Christian life is a continual “coming to Jesus.” The comfort and hope in these first two songs are found throughout the recording.

Like Nehemiah in the Old Testament, Downhere not only restores the foundation, they build the walls with the wisdom that comes from working out their faith. “Living the Dream” recognizes that often expectations don’t fit reality: “Well this is not what I imagined, but this is real, life in the trenches.” The lyrics are wrapped in a whimsical tune that even includes horns, reminiscent of the Downhere song, “Christmas in our Hearts.”

“Let Me Rediscover You” is a cry to know God, which God desires: “But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth” (Jeremiah 9:24 ESV).

I appreciate the mature, at-odds-with-the-world perspective of “For the Heartbreak”: “Thank you for the heartbreak / Thank you for the pain / Thank you for sadness on the gloomy days of rain / Thank you that the hard times have a reason and rhyme / Thank you that the healer makes the beauty shine.”

This release also highlights Downhere’s diversity. “Seek,” with its punk rock, early U2 sound, is one of the surprises. It might seem a little out of character, but I like it because it is unique. The title track features a violin, which gives it a country/bluegrass flair. This conveys the rustic and rural feel of the album cover. I wish they had done more along these lines.

The variation continues with “Glory by the Way of Shame,” a gorgeous ballad and one of the best songs. “Holy,” is a worship anthem that references the entire Trinity. Poetic images abound on “For Life,” where the band opens the book of nature to give thanks.

Downhere is working on a building whose architect is God. His people, like living stones, are being built together into a holy dwelling for His presence. As wise master builders, they return to the foundation and fill the breaches.

Michael Dalton