Disciple Slays with Raucous New Record Skeleton Psalms (Review)
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Christian rock veterans Disciple are back again with one of their finest albums to date. Skeleton Psalms is jam-packed with wicked guitar riffs, raucous drum beats, and lyrics that cut right to the soul.
Skeleton Psalms begins with “The Executioner.” The powerful choir gives way to a moment of acoustic guitar. The vocals then begin, somewhat subdued, hovering over an electronic background, before the song slides into a full-blown rocker. At the beginning of the chorus, the drums provide a moment of suspense before the band kicks back in, full force. The lyrics are just as searing as the guitars; a powerful reflection on the things within us that we despise, and the desire to take them to the cross and die to ourselves so that we can be raised into a new life with Jesus Christ.
“Promise to Live” is an earnest plea to those who are struggling and considering ending their lives. The lyrics are imbued with a compassion for those in pain, and encouragement that there is a Love greater than the pain and a resurrection of all the broken pieces. The music is as impassioned as Kevin Young’s vocals, and the song touches the heart of the listener. The bridge provides a quiet moment, with guitarist Josiah Prince taking a turn on vocals, his voice soaring over a dancing guitar line.
“Bad Words” is an absolutely brutal and bold statement of faith, and perfectly sums up what Disciple is all about. The messages expressed in the world around us are so contrary to Christianity. The gospel is often considered “bad words” by those who don’t believe, and they try their hardest to shut Christianity down. But as followers of Christ, we’re called to be bold and unapologetic, not letting the world silence our beliefs. “Bad Words” starts with an intense scream that will surely awaken the listener and grab their attention. The intensity continues throughout the track, with the guitars matching the ferocity of the vocals. The bridge provides a brief moment of auditory reprieve, stripped down to an acoustic guitar while the vocals proclaim the name of Jesus as our only hope. This is followed by a brief but wicked guitar solo before the song wraps up with the same intensity with which it began.
“Scapegoat” has a bit of a nu metal/djent kind of vibe to it, featuring heavy guitar riffs and a syncopated vocal melody, which lends another element of interest. This track includes a killer solo from drummer Joey West in between phenomenal guitar solos. “Scapegoat” is a fiery challenge to the enemy, tearing down his disguise and declaring that he will never take advantage of us again.
“Bow Down” is a defiant proclamation of resistance against the standards of the world. Just as Jesus did not accept the crown offered to him by Satan, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to the king at the sound of his sacred music, we as Christians are called to resist the temptations of the world. A myriad of voices surround us, trying to convince us that they offer the only way to true life, but if we resist, the shield of our Father will guide us to True Life in His Son. “Bow Down” has an understated intro, building tension until the song explodes with energy. About halfway through, there is a fierce guitar solo, adding to the intensity of the song.
The album wraps up with a beautiful ballad, “For the Life of Me,” a love letter from God to His beloved children. It begins with a warm and comforting guitar riff, joined a moment later by a lilting vocal melody. The lyrics profess that there hasn’t been one single day that God has not loved us. When we feel lonely and worn down, this is a reassuring message that God will never leave nor forsake us.
Skeleton Psalms is sheer fire, from start to finish; there’s not a single song the listener will be tempted to skip. Kevin Young’s passionate vocals truly reach the listener. Guitarists Andrew Stanton and Josiah Prince are a powerful duo, their playing so dynamic and energetic. And drummer Joey West is an absolute beast, his drumming driving the album and adding yet another layer of intensity. This album has a fresh sound, while still remaining distinctively Disciple. The band has stayed true to their roots, with echoes of previous albums woven throughout. Skeleton Psalms is a fantastic album, musically intricate and lyrically compelling. And it will certainly be listened to for years to come.