Written by Daniel McDonald.
I’ll be honest; 2015 thus far has been a slow year for me in the world of Christian metal. I have found myself wandering back through missed releases from years gone by to fulfill my need to listen to some new material. There have, however, been a few releases that have stood out loud and proud as not only highlights of the year, but of my collection. The Ongoing Concept‘s Handmade is one such release.
I recall being a big fan of their label debut, Saloon, but after a few months it dropped down my list of preferred listens. I return to it often enough, song’s like their explosive “Cover Girl” and “Saloon” are still ear-bleedingly amazing to listen to, but the album as a whole can tend to loose momentum. That’s when my short attention span can choose to bail to seek a change of pace. This was a concern I was thrilled to abandon when I gave Handmade its first few spins.
Before I go on, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the relevance of the album’s title, Handmade. As it suggests, The Ongoing Concept has taken a literal ground-up approach to recording this album, from sourcing raw materials and hand-making their instruments through to their production and music videos. Something that truly needs to be commended given today’s appetite for instant gratification.
If you have listened through Saloon, you should remember the somewhat meloncollie impact of the last track, “Goodbye, So Long My Love”. Handmade leads you seamlessly into its journey with the last haunting melodies from Saloon leading you in, discovering that it is being played over a car stereo as the driver decamps his vehicle and commences rhythmically laying into a tree with an axe. Layer over this the synchronized snapping of fingers followed by a whoa-oh-oh-uh-oh-oh chorus and accompanied by belting majestic heaviness, and you’re off! There’s no stopping you now as you perfect your scream-alongs, head-bangings and scissor-kicks all the way through to the album’s conclusion.
The song-writing on this album comes across is very intense. Whether it be a melodic bridge or all-out throat-shredding instrument-destroying madness, there is never a moment you’re not partaking in self-inducing head-banging whiplash or just moving with the music as it pushes you from song to song. Each track being a brutal balance of harmony and heaviness which I find almost impossible to pigeon-hole into just one genre, even if that genre is the purists metalcore.
Tracks like the opening onslaught of “Amends”, the upbeat sing-alongs of “Melody” and the great use of electronic elements in “Unwanted” just continue to compliment an amazing album. Lyrically, I would say it doesn’t come across as overtly Christian, but themes of faith aren’t too hard to find in the words being spewed forth. Whilst I normally prefer the former, in this case I couldn’t be happier with the finished product. The final track “Falling” also has a somewhat deja vu feeling to it (hint-hint)…
5 out of 5 stars
The Ongoing Concept have kept with their namesake and managed to release an album that is both more punishing, melodic and original than their last. You’d be a metal-n00b to let this Handmade slip through your grasp. Already I am holding this up as the main contender for Metal-Bro’s album of 2015…
Dawson Scholz – Guitar, Vocals
Kyle Scholz – Vocals, Keyboards
Parker Scholz – Drums
TJ Nichols – Bass
(These guys are literally metal-brothers!)
ONE LAST THING…
God bless, Metal-Bros and Metal-Brodettes! Thanks so much for reading.
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