Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 55: A review of Wolves at the Gate’s album Types and Shadows

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Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians within the arts community.”

Blog Article 55: A review of Wolves at the Gate’s album Types and Shadows

Annnddddd…they’re back! Yes! Wolves at the Gate has released a new album and you can listen to the entire thing for free on YouTube!

Last time I reviewed Wolves at the Gate, I discussed the unfathomable depth of theology placed in every song they have written in their past albums. As I was finishing this blog article, Wolves at the Gate has just released their new album Types and Shadows, which I will review today. My review would have come sooner but two weeks of sickness and my day job kept me distracted. Excuses aside, here is my review.

I am really enjoying watching God raise up the Christian metal movement. We are watching countless people come to authentic faith in Christ because a brave remnant understands the depth of compassion Christ extends to the lost by walking into lion’s den of the mainstream heavy metal community. An accurate comparison of this unfathomable compassion from these Christian musicians would be in a recount of the Gospel of John where Jesus meets the woman at the well in Samaria. (John 4)

At the time, Jews and Samaritans equally hated each other; the hatred was so strong that Jews looked down on the Samaritans, classifying them as half bred outcasts. Jews would purposely travel extra miles around the city of Samaria to avoid having contact with the people. But with one prophetic act from Jesus in conversation with the woman at the well, the whole town comes out to see Him and believe in His message. Jesus shatters the stronghold of division by reuniting a lost group of people with God, the Father.

In Jesus’s own words in John 4:35b, He rebuked His disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Afterwards, Jesus and His disciples spent two days there ministering to the people because of their openness to the Gospel. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39a) and “they said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” ” (John 4:42).

When Jesus touches the lives of outcasts, whole cities and ethnic groups are forever transformed. Like the Samaritans, men and women within the heavy metal community know despair, they know struggle, they know shame. I was one of them and it just takes the bold actions of one Christian to share the compassion of Christ with them. If you have spent any honest amount of time combing through Christian metal forums, you see this in action all the time: discussions of faith, the Gospel and its relevancy, and men and women crying out on places like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Ministers we need to take notice that God is drawing the outcasts of society in this eleventh hour of ministry opportunity. Do not let this moment pass you by as the Holy Spirit draws people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Types and Shadows has such bold, intentional, and deep lyrics. Just watch some more videos below about the process of writing these songs and the meaning behind the albums from Steve Cobucci and Nick Detty.

Like Detty stated in the first video, much of my times was spent thinking and contemplating the deeper meanings of each song in correlation to the journey of the Christian. So many of these songs summarized the intellectual battles of my own as I struggled with Christianity and battling my own personal sins. Cobucci has such a way of tapping into the cries of the soul that can only be reveal by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. This album was very sobering for me in that I spent much of my time reflecting on where God found me as a sinner and where He has brought me through His redeeming grace.

I love Ben Summers’s bass and Abishai Collingsworth’s drums. I studied a bit of bass playing in my teenage years, so I hold a special respect for Summers and letting it be heard throughout the songs. So many bands want to hide their bass in the background, but Wolves at the Gate allows Summers to demonstrate his skills in this dueling of instruments alongside Cobucci’s guitar. Collingsworth’s drums are so intentional with ever snare and crash played. He really pours his heart into every note that he is playing. It all just works. The passion is there. The intensity is there. Everything is just so well guided by the Holy Spirit’s use of their talents. Now to transition to the songs themselves.

If I could summarize Types and Shadows with a Biblical verse it would be with the following passage from Isaiah 65:1, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.”

“Asleep” is the first titanic title to grace the ears of the listener. It is a slower metalcore song with a beautiful Song of Solomon reference in the chorus. The lyrics discuss the struggle of weakness in striving. Vocals are very gnarly and more at the forefront than some of the other songs. The song felt like a personal struggle of sin and atonement in pursuing relationship with God. The person is almost arguing against the love of God offered by Jesus towards him/herself while be countered by the tsunami of God’s love.

“Flickering Flame” begins with a beautiful guitar introduction by Cobbucci. The screaming and singing just work in harmony from Detty and Cobucci. This song is such beautiful ballad from the vocalists. Collingsworth’s slow drums just work so well within the song. They create such an intentional sound as though his life depended on the precision of every note. This combination works well with the lyrics. Detty’s outro note hold is so powerful. It felt like shockwaves were shattering walls of sinful strongholds for the listener.

“War in a Time of Peace” begins with a mellow intro of simple guitar and bass; almost a Carlos Santana feel with some of the chords. This song addresses those fighting against the Gospel with such powerful verses as “Lay down your arms young one, I realize it’s hard to see the war is won my son.” Overall, the lyrics address the internal conflict unbelievers have in accepting the Gospel message. Christ’s supremacy is also identified in that the spiritual war is already won [on Calvary] with His sacrifice.

“Anathema” speaks about the desperation of the human soul trapped in isolation, shame, guilt, and depression. If someone were dying without any hope, this song’s beginning would summarize it perfectly. “Glory speak to me. Call me upon my name. Tell my soul to live!” I love the desperation of this chorus. It is the veiled cry of every man, woman, and child’s soul outside of Christ. It summarizes the state of the human soul outside of Jesus Christ so well in its need of resuscitation.

“The Aftermath” begins with the vocals of Steve Cobucci reminding me of Chris Cornell from Audioslave. The instruments are begin mellow but progress with bold bass and crashing drums. “The Aftermath” addresses humanities inherent nature to conceal and hide secrets that can be blacker than midnight. Like many of the other songs above, “The Aftermath” ends summarizing the redemption of Christ towards the listener.

Recognize the name of “Fountain”? If your one who knows Church hymnal history it is the one written by William Cowper of the mid-1700s. It is such beautiful confirmation from the Holy Spirit about His movement in this area. I predict we’re going to see more of this occur within the decade. Such a celebration of the ballads from centuries ago to the orchestrated sounds of today’s music. Nothing speaks more depth and theological truth like hymns from the past three centuries of old.

“Weary Ground” is a fascinating song addressing the theological concept of creation groaning in eager expectation of Christ’s return and the revelation of His people. “Weary Ground” also addresses that inner groaning of the Christian souls desire to see Christ return and restore all things from sin sickness. (Sin sickness is a term used to describe the decaying nature of the world as a result of the original fall of Adam and Eve. It’s like tainting water with poison, slowing damaging and ultimately ending the drinker’s life.)

A user on YouTube even compared the song “Lowly” to a rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I do not believe one could receive a better summation to this song. It’s mellow, slow in the best of ways. I’d describe it as one of those rare slow rock songs heavy metal bands are now for performing every now and again. The Summers’s bass and Collingsworth’s drums are ripping the entire time while Cobucci and Detty continue their awesome acapella on the album.

“Broken Bones” is a bold confrontation of the inner sin of the heart by alluding to Matthew 23 in which Jesus confronts the religious leaders about their inner problems in comparing them to whitewashed tombs. “Washed in the blood or just in the water?” That’s a verse that’ll preach in and of itself. As bold as this passage of Scripture is from Jesus, Wolves at the Gate offer such a compassionate hand to the listener to “don’t be nervous to face the truth you’re not fine, you never were. So don’t be frightened to see the Light when you open up your eyes.” “Broken Bones” is such a sobering song calling people to face their problems and stop avoiding them outside of the redemption of Christ.

“Convalesce.” If one song title could sum up an entire song, this is the one! This is by far my favorite song. The very definition of convalesce is “to recover health and strength after illness” [that illness being humanity’s sin sickness nature] (Dictionary.com, 2016, n.p.). Lyrically, it’s so bold confronting both the listener dealing with shame and the listener opening resisting God. How can one not weep over such a powerful truth? To bare the shame of humanity. Someone reading this needs to hear that today: that Christ bear your shame…Let that settle.

“Chasing the Wind” is my second favorite song on the album. Chasing the wind reference. While reading Ecclesiastes last week, this song reminded me of it. If I wrote a letter to everyone running from God and chasing the pleasures of the world, this would be it.

“Hindsight” is a beautiful retelling of the life of Peter in the Gospels. The words are so poetic. Cobucci writes lyrics like “I walked on the tempest, I saw the waves below my feet” to describe the passage of Matthew 14:22-23 and “in service I was fearless; attack my king, my blade you’d reap” to describe Matthew 26 and John 18. I think we’ve all been Peter at one point or another in the journey of Christianity. Sometimes we are walking on the water with God and other times we our outright denying Him by our words and deeds.

“Grave Digger.” If I had a song to describe the many people I have met digging their own pit of despair this is it. “Grave Digger” literally blows pride and self-reliance apart. It’s like ripping a band aide off of pride’s festering sickness. How much more blunt does one have to be than these following verses “My pride wrapped me tight and it laid me down to sleep. Telling me all that I build and find I keep. All that I made was a terrible cold grave. In death here I laid is there any way to save my soul?” But as blunt as “Grave Digger” is, Wolves at the Gate ends this song again with the compassion of Christ’s saving grace offered through the Gospel message.

If you know me well (or have read my blog enough times), Christian music holds such a place in my heart. I enjoy nothing more than delving into the orchestration of instruments and the philosophical lyrics of songs. At times it can come off as coldly opinionated. It’s not birthed from a place of ego and criticism but of a place of passion that the exponential potential Christian music has in that it literally save lives; lives from eternal damnation through the separation of sin from God.

Any band that streams an entire album will most likely win my support. It speaks about the honesty and transparency of their music. Wolves at the Gate has proven this with every song created and album released. They’re not afraid to approach hard topics without compromising their Christianity, gaining the respect of both believers and unbelievers. In some circumstances, Wolves at the Gate’s album will be the only chance an unbeliever has to hear the Gospel message. How can we not support them?

Keeping praying for these guys!!! God is moving so powerfully in their music and at their concerts. To the band members, I would encourage them to keep going! Your instrumental sound and lyrics are so handpicked by God that the Holy Spirit is drawing people from all walks of life to the knowledge of His saving grace through Jesus Christ. You have been so instrumentally picked by God (no pun intended) to accomplish something unfathomable for the Kingdom, that ministers are going to begin to come to you and say things like “teach us how to reach the lost like you do. I’ve watched more people come to Christ at your concert that have visited my church in the last few years” as signs of His hand upon your music. Dream big and once you’ve done that, dream even bigger. Become His instrument in all that you do.

Remember to keep supporting Wolves at the Gate by purchasing their music, merchandise, and following them on social media. Help them keep music as their career so they can continue to reach the unreachables. Blessings!!!

Wolves at the Gate Links:
Official Website: http://www.wolvesatthegate.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wolvesatthegate
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wolvesatthegate
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/wolvesatthegateVEVO or https://www.youtube.com/user/wolvesatthegateband/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/wolvesatthegate
Instagram: http://instagram.com/wolvesatthegate

References
Dictionary.com. “Convalesce.” Dictionary. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/convalesce?s=t (accessed December 16, 2016)
Wolves at the Gate. Types and Shadows Album Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/wolvesatthegate/photos/a.10150127268589108.320802.19155784107/10154707650799108/?type=3&theater (accessed December 16, 2016)
Wolves At The Gate – Types & Shadows (Album Stream), YouTube, posted by solidstaterecords, November 9, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCslpjrb7cYgWhahq-qIjo_yAllHJVk_Q (accessed November 20, 2016)
Wolves At The Gate #TypesAndShadows – Faith & Lyrics, YouTube, 3:52, posted by solidstaterecords, December 16, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgWH12heaEg (accessed December 16, 2016)
Wolves At The Gate #TypesAndShadows – New Record Meaning & Sound, YouTube, 2:59, posted by solidstaterecords, November 7, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qytPvjgWc9Q (accessed December 16, 2016)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 54: A Review of Guy S. Stanton, III’s Christian Fantasy Novel Fire Prophets, Book 1: The Way

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Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians within the arts community.”

Blog Article 54: A Review of Guy S. Stanton, III’s Christian Fantasy Novel Fire Prophets, Book 1: The Way

Fantasy and science fiction: It’s a genre few Christian writers have adequately explored but an underground fire of inspiration has burst forth within the self-published author community. They are ready to tackle these new grounds of ministry with pens ignited with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, forerunners of the past, have demonstrated to us that Christian imagery can be carefully woven through the tapestry of storytelling. This tradition has continued in one such self-published author named Guy S. Stanton, III. Stanton’s Fire Prophet series introduces the reader to a fantastic world of imagination inspired by Biblical passages used to personify creations’ praising of God.

Throughout the Bible, numerous passages reference the praise of objects, landscapes, animals, plants, and even the universe in a constant state of praising God. In passages like Luke 19:40b, even Jesus Himself stated in rebuke to the Pharisees that “if they keep quiet [referring to crowd praising Him], the stones will cry out [with praises].”

A literary critic could easily dismiss these personifications as just that but even science has documented this “music” of the universe through the study of soundwaves and frequencies associated with stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies. (Don’t believe me, try a web search! It’s a fascinating study of the cosmos!). Almost every animal on earth uses some form of music to communicate. Even plants respond in better growth to certain styles of music. Based upon all of these examples, I would conclude that we are created for worship. So with this peculiarly placed idea, Stanton wove a story of fantasy celebrating the Christian imagery and theology.

In Stanton’s own words, he describes himself as “a dreamer, a poet, a lover, a husband, a father, and a man of God. I’m inspired by what I’ve seen and what I’ve read, but what I create with my words is where I dream” (Amazon, 2016, n.p.).

Stanton’s story opens with the traumatic tale of Tarik as the fire warriors lead an onslaught upon the Roalain Plains, wiping out his friends, his family, and everyone who is close to him. With instinctual survival coursing through his body, Tarik is forced to flee into the forbidden forest. Tarik is then forced to survive through the many encounters he has ultimately revealing that he is part of the grandest of conflicts between the forces of good versus evil.

Stanton’s story is very much a fantasy parallel to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress from the 17th century. Furthermore, I enjoyed the Jewish mythology he incorporates into some of the creatures Tarik meets. Stanton has done his homework on the Jewish traditions of the Bible and honors them through the characters he has incorporated into his story.

Korva the tiger was my favorite character for me. When the reader first meets her, Stanton introduces her as this mystic character that may not be trusted. But as the story progresses, Korva becomes one of Tarik’s most loyal companions offering protection, wisdom, and strong ally to fight alongside. Her character definitely reminded me of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Through the different lands Tarik is led through, the story peaks at his climatic battle against a horde of dragons. It’s a page turner that will captivate the reader to the possibilities of what modern Christian fantasy can become. I look forward to the other books to come with this series.

How can you support Stanton? Lift him up in prayer. Ask the Lord to deposit more ideas as to teach Christian principles through the use of fantasy and science fiction. Support him through purchasing one of his stories, following him on social media, and hosting him for a book signing. Self-published authors need all the support they can get, so connect with him. I look forward to watching Stanton continue to write Christian fantasy and hopefully see a movie for one or many of his stories in the near future.

Guy S. Stanton, III’s Pages:
Personal Website: http://words-of-action.com/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Guy-Stanton-III/e/B00G7QFGL4
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7364735.Guy_S_Stanton_III
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYLKES_Hhv9d2XeLTvcSYgg
Google+: https://plus.google.com/107550521740724972559

References
Amazon. “About the Author.” Guy S. Stanton, III. https://www.amazon.com/Guy-Stanton-III/e/B00G7QFGL4 (accessed November 29, 2016)
Stanton III, Guy S. Fire Prophets, Book One: The Way. eBook. United States of America: Words of Action, 2016.
Words of Action. Fire Prophets Book Portrait. Fire Prophets. http://words-of-action.com/the-way-book-1/ (accessed December 9, 2016)
Words of Action. Guy S. Stanton, III Portrait. About the Author. http://words-of-action.com/about/ (accessed December 9, 2016)