Review Rating: Must Listen! (4.5 / 5)
Easily today’s popular instrument, the electric guitar is a staple in many a song. Nearly every genre from rock to pop to country uses its familiar sounds, so much so that listeners often take the sound for granted. The recently formed band Death Therapy, however, rips away that comfort like a bandage on an old wound. There is no guitar in The Storm Before The Calm, just heavy bass and drums that form an engaging, heavy blend between dissonance and deliberate rock mastery. With intense, driving lyrics that perfectly complement the heavy and harsh melodies, Death Therapy stands unmoving in the storm.
The album opens with a deceivingly bright opening track – “Until Then” and slowly but defiantly transitions to the darker tones of “Self Mind Dead.”The former opens with echoing piano keys, only to descend into deep drumbeats, low electronic pulses, and synths that slowly but surely decay into a low, dark sound. The transition is obvious as bass riffs open the next track. Though the artist’s previous lyrics reflected a desire for Christ’s presence throughout life, the contrast is stark and clear from the moment “Self Mind Dead” starts. Here is where Death Therapy submits their resume – deep, massive, grinding bass, pounding drums, and accenting electronics. The lyrics contrast to the previous track, describing a confident world that foolishly and blindly decays without Christ. “When the blind lead the blind,” lead singer Jason Wisdom roars, “only darkness they find!” Melody and message alike, the entire song is powerful and hard-hitting.
Jason previously released a rough cut of “The Lie,” the track that teased at the future of his project. The track, polished to perfection, immediately picks up where its predecessor left off. Light electronic pings collide with savage bass and merciless drums, taking a once bright tone and smashing it to pieces – perhaps a melodic description of what the truth does to a comfortable lie? Its desperate and frustrated lyrics describe the battle of someone desperately clinging to a deadly yet appealing lie – that we can live our lives of our own strength. Piercing the background are cries for relief – “just take it, just take it, just take it away!”
Just when listeners think “Wake Me” may be a lighter track, the soft electronic pattering gives way to a fierce wave of drums and bass. “Give me rest, give me peace … wake me when I’m dead!” – perhaps a hint at the death-defying power of Christ? The follow-up track, “Prodigal,” adds deep, echoing, almost synthesized vocals as a foundation while the drums and bass continue pounding away. The lyrics are a back-and-forth between a human cry for Christ’s presence and a response from the Savior. “Can You hear me, I’m dying, crying out! … is heaven silent, were you ever there?” meshes with “Can you hear Me … I’m swallowed up in death, but that’s not the end! I am the victory!” “Slow Death” is a short but overly heavy song, again capitalizing on the album’s themes of craving relief and life in the midst of pain, doubt, and death.
“Possessed” brings the fight to a close with an unconventional start, theme, and lyrics. The track opens with a quote (“You’re an anachronism, like a ghost from another time!” from The Twilight Zone ) before kicking into grungy electronics and bass. The song describes a losing battle of man against the world, harkening back to “The Lie” while keeping the lyrics fresh. Finally, the chorus descends with a simple phrase: “Though I am a mess, I am possessed!” A disturbing phrase, to say the least, but the next verses, propelled by a roaring Jason, bring more insight: “You will never change, You will never leave! You always finish what You start and You’re working in me!” With correlations to Matthew 12, “Possessed” is a startling and engaging reminder that we do not have to fight through life unaided – that Christ is with us through all of it.
Jason Wisdom described The Storm Before The Calm as a battle with frustration and doubt. Not everything ends with a clean and resolved ending until the close of the album, but perhaps that’s the point of it all. The album’s closing track, “Everything Burns,” describes a day where darkness is overcome, everything old burns away, and Christ finally brings healing to the world. But, as the collection’s title indicates, things can only get worse before they get better. Until then, we fight the world, though not alone. Few albums can so beautifully link their themes, lyrics, and melodies into a strong, tight collection, nevertheless, Death Therapy stands strong. If anything, The Storm Before The Calm is guaranteed to become a longtime favorite of rock and metal fans.