|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Faith Head & Curtis Erdek|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2016||Artist Website: Faith Head|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 48:24|
On its independently released December of 2016 debut full length Are You A Faith Head?, Faith Head lives up to the meaning behind its name (as outlined in the Urban Dictionary): “someone who holds irrational religious fundamentalist beliefs and no matter what evidence is provided to the contrary will never change”. A 21st century translation might be ‘Jesus Freak’. All frivolity aside, the Chattanooga, Tennessee based five piece claims the Faith Head moniker ‘in the name of Jesus to show to the world that belief in Jesus Christ and the Bible is very much rational and beneficial’ (as taken from its press material). More specifically, the group ‘does not hide behind a selective use of pronouns to mask the Biblical worldview of the lyrics nor use graphic and provocative imagery in a marketing attempt to attract listeners’. Rather, the goal ‘is to praise the name of Jesus Christ through song and word and His job is to do the drawing of listeners’.
Faith Head, obviously, leaves little doubt as to whether or not it is a Christian band; in other words, there is no struggling to understand the motive as it pertains to its prose! Personally, I find it refreshing to come across a group to be so bold and upfront about its faith that it leaves impression of capturing the spirit of the Jesus Music era, a period in which the scene has been described not so much as an ‘industry’ but rather ‘ministry’ was the focal point. You can classify Faith Head as a true throwback in this regard.
Musically, Faith Head describes itself as ‘Christian alternative metal’, but what I hear on Are You A Faith Head? is hard rock but with an added element of variety. In terms of specifics, the group specializes in straightforward hard rock not unlike Rez Band, F.O.G., Dead Moons Grey, Thieves & Liars, Stonefuz, etc while mixing in bluesy elements along the lines of early nineties Bride and modern overtones that hint of The World Will Burn (or The Jesus Experience era Bride). Faith Head, much to its credit, is also not afraid to step outside the box and draw upon groove influences that bring to mind Lordchain and grungy sentiments ala Alice In Chains- all the while resonating occasional punk like zeal and energy. It adds up to a sound that is decisively (and uniquely) Faith Head.
Are You A Faith Head? begins to seven as solid songs you will find within the hard rock genre. Opener “Revolution” gets underway to an animated bass solo, churning its remaining distance to heightened angst as belaboring guitars, driving vocals and underpinning groove tinctures set the vehement tone. Melody is copious despite the aggressive nature to the music at hand.
“Freak Show” affixes guitars to the front of the mix while reinforcing a prodigious low end to create a darker metal infused sound that brings to mind Alice Cooper. The groups heavy groove propensities continue to make their presence felt as does another draw you in on first listen melody. This is Faith Head at its heavier and most engaging best.
Starting to a brief drum solo, “Push” does exactly that in slowing the tempo in comparison to its two predecessors in chugging to monster guitar walls and every bit as big freight train momentum. Heavy-set backing vocals step forward to buttress the assertive but catchy chorus. Faith Head might not be big on soloing as some within the genre, but the duo of Jon Freeman and Donny Raines let loose with a nicely done stretch of lead guitar.
Three songs in and front man Jason Beavers also proves himself, yielding a mid-ranged vocal style rooted in a soulful and bluesy aesthetic that meshes well with the hard rocking Faith Head sound,. Those into vocalists of the already noted bands - Kaiser (Resurrection Band), Thompson (Bride), Bradford (Thieves & Liars), etc - will identify with what he brings to the table.
The plodding “Burn” launches to a bass solo and rolling drums, plundering ahead slowly prior to tempering for its calmer verses only to regain impetus upon acquiring the resonant (and very catchy) refrain backed by guitars with a light modern twist. Soloing takes a fitting bluesy tone this time around. This is as close to a hard rock semi-ballad as you will hear.
“Going To The Mountain” maintains the modern qualities in terms of the cool Alice In Chains like vocal flavorings at the start, but proves every bit a blues driven hard rocker- a joining of the current and vintage if you will. Momentum throughout is slow and trenchant, with hard charging guitars cutting in and out of the mix, though not without forsaking melody, as the harmonies intertwining with the exquisite chorus make evident.
“Jehovah-jireh” is as fun a worship rock number you will find. A return to up-tempo territory, the song begins to a drum solo before Patrick Shipley’s every present groove driven bass takes over and sets the mirthful (if not funky) tone. Guitars make their presence felt equally, underpinning the powerful ‘Jehovah-jireh none are higher / Jehovah-jireh holy provider’ refrain and pensive instrumental section compelled by frenetic soloing.
My favorite is six-minute showstopper “The Walk”. The song beautifully touches upon ballad territory, gently traversing its verses to affable acoustic guitar but picking up pace as rhythm guitars step up to play a lead role for the emotionally laced refrain in which Beavers exhibits the smooth sounding range to his delivery. I absolutely love the extended classic guitar solo decorating the instrumental moments, which proves unequivocally Faith Head are not simply a ministry act accomplished musicians in their own right. Of note is that the of the two bonus tracks at the end, one is a nicely done acoustic version to “The Walk”.
After seven near as perfect songs as it gets, it is only realistic to expect the album to drop off (even if slightly) quality wise its remaining tracks. That said, “Under The Blood” is still quite good with its resounding modern guitar flair and punk-wave demeanor, as can be found in the heavy set chanted chorus and churning guitars (either way).
I struggle to embrace the two that follow with the main reason being musical direction. “Crawl Back In” starts promising with doom-based guitars leading the way only to lose me upon procurement of the bludgeoning hard-core based refrain, which comes across a bit repetitive for my taste. Likewise, I shy from “Gotta Live It” from its seething punk based feel that borders on the chaotic and all too short two and a half minute length. That said, I see those whose tastes trend towards a modern direction better embracing the two.
Closing bonus track “Faith Head” I rate solidly with its eighties hard rock guitar riffs and start to finish upbeat focus. Shouting backing vocals decorate the group’s signatures cut, as do boogie flavored groove underpinnings and impassioned energy that again touches upon the punk like. A strong manner in which to bring the album to its fitting (and satisfying) close.
Production might benefit from a bit of big budget polish, but otherwise it gets the job done for an independent release with adequate separation for guitar leads and bass to stand out and rhythm guitars to make the needed forthright statement. Packaging, on the other hand, could use some improving in that the black and white cover art is a bit basic, while the 2-panel digi-pak does not include lyrics.
Lyrics, however, are available at the Faith Head website and leave little doubt as to how the group (again) lives up to the meaning behind its name. “The Walk” does a good job in this regard:
The walk You took to save my sinful soul
You lived a life - that you didn’t have to live
You died a death - that You didn’t have to die
Eternal life - a gift You didn’t have to give
You took the walk - only You could walk alone
The pain, you faced
All alone, against the world You made
Broken heart, intense pain
a lonely cross, that bore my name
As does “Gotta Live It”:
Faith without works is dead
Your witness is cold to the bone
No holy fire of God’s desire
Burning on your hearts throne
The price of eternal life is paid
Ransomed for you and me
Pain and disgrace traded for mercy and grace
Nailed down bloody on a tree
“Jehovah-jireh” is a work rock number:
Jehovah jireh there’s no other quite like You
Jehovah jireh you always get us through
You paid the price of eternal life
A blood stained cross
Washed our souls pure white
You gave the blood
for the sacrifice
you’ve ransomed our lives
“Revolution” touches upon spiritual warfare:
Hear the call of the Father
Saints of God arise
Take up your sword and shield
Prepare for the fight
We may seem outnumbered
Our numbers may be few
But keep your eyes on the Father
And He will lead you
A legitimate question it is: are you a faith head? Faith Head certainly knows where it stands in this regard, as its prose aptly attests. The group’s no-nonsense approach works not just lyrically but musically as well, particularly when at the top of its game. Albums first seven songs find the group putting its choice songwriting skills on full display as examples of hard rock mixed with modern and groove overtones. Yes, there is a bit of a drop off (in my opinion) in terms of the albums remaining material, but that is mostly due to musical direction- so if your tastes trend to a more modern to punk based sound feel free to add another 5% to 10% to the final score. What truly impresses - and leaves this reviewer avidly awaiting the Faith Head follow up release - is how the group is not a one dimensional ministry act but also every bit much accomplished musicians, which allows said ministry side to stand out that much further.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Revolution” (2:59), “Freak Show” (3:04), “Push” (2:57), “Burn” (5:40), “Going To The Mountain” (4:42), “Jehovah-jireh” (4:26), “The Walk” (6:00), “Under The Blood” (3:30), “Crawl Back In” (3:36), “Gotta Live It” (2:29), “The Walk” (acoustic) (5:32), “Faith Head” (3:28)
Jason Beavers - Lead Vocals
Jon Freeman - Guitars
Donny Raines - Guitars
Patrick Shipley - Bass
Gabriel Gardner - Drums