When I was a kid, I got hit by my little sister. Now I’d been hit by her before, and typically I deserved it in one way or another. The problem this time was that I couldn’t just laugh it off like I usually did. No, this time was different. This time she used a rock and not just a little rock; this was the kind of rock that you push rather than throw. This was the kind of rock that left me laying face-down on a hospital bed, gritting my teeth as the doctor threaded stiches in my head. While the details may be different, I’m sure you’d agree that there are experiences in each of our lives that leave a lasting impression.
I think it’s safe to say that the aim of Behold The Kingdom’s release “The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail” is to leave the listener with a lasting impression. It may not result in stitches, or even much of a bruise, but this Sidney, Ohio 5-piece certainly pulls out the stops hoping to leave enough of a mark that they’ll be tough for you to shake. That’s no small task given the over-saturation of the market when it comes to heavy music.
With a style we’ll simply label as deathcore, which I realize means vastly different things to vastly different people, you can look for a sound somewhere in the vein of Salt The Wound, Inexordium, or Total Domination. Not that I would recommend any of those bands, because I wouldn’t… but for the sake of similarity, that’s the sound. It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s got all the intensity you could ask for. Maybe even a little extra.
For those of you who consider yourselves to be purists and turn your nose up at even the faintest hint of clean vocals, rest easy, Behold The Kingdom is all growl and no whine. There is a little spoken word at the beginning of the CD and then as a segue to the final track, but other than that it’s all primal. The vocals are deep, the bass is pounding, the guitars are two parts chug and one part howl, and the blast-beat drums set a pace that would make a woodpecker dizzy. What’s not to love? Not much, other than the fact that the CD barely clocks in at 27 minutes, but, I digress.
My first look at the song titles as I opened the CD gave me a decidedly Hebrew vibe. Whether this has to do with culture, creed, nationality, or just a nod to a more Old Testament flavored approach to things, I couldn’t really say for sure. Adding the fact that the Star of David is on full display either on the CD’s inner sleeve or on a band member’s neck, I have to conclude that the feel is an intentional one and a welcome one at that.
Lyrically, these guys are all about the hope of the gospel. Another welcome discovery. Am I the only one that’s sick of Christian bands that talk about anything and everything other than the one thing that God saved them to speak about? Like labeling yourself ‘Christians in a band’ is supposed to change God’s call on you so it’s okay now to let people slip unevangelized into Hell. Don’t even get me started on that. Anyway, no such issue exists with Behold The Kingdom, their lyrics offer truth in the plain and simple language of the masses. Consider the song “Living Hope” which says, “This world is a lie / my hands are bound in sin / you’ll lie to me no more / I await for the day / I await for the day / You saw this fallen world and gave your son to die for us / imperfect world we live / full of filth still forgive us / we pray for your grace / I proclaim freedom / we are the face / we are the fire / we are the sons of the almighty”. Or how about the song “Restoration” which says, “my spirit is broken / my days cut short / I am marked for the grave / my flesh is clothed with worms and dirt / my skin is broken and festering / I said I will die with my nest / I will live as long as a Phoenix / and my root will spread to the water / I thirst but their water is bitter / I am blessed though my trials are many / I will see the full glory of my God / my redeemer lives / he will rise on the dust / my flesh is destroyed / but I will see my God”. The song closes with “I repent with dust and ashes / He lives within me / I am eternal / grave where’s your victory / death where is your sting / I have been restored”. This isn’t the Gospel-lite… this is the unashamed proclamation of the Word of God.
Of the ten songs on the CD, two of which are under a minute long, the standout track for me was “Sown In Dishonor”. It’s a full-on aural assault that will leave you breathless. The CD’s good, but this is the kind of song you build a future on. Not to mention songs like this just have to be so much fun to play. My least favorite track was “Fall Of The Philistines” which is forty-nine seconds of somber-toned spoken word that sounds a bit like a movie soundtrack woven along with David’s words to Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. I understand that it sets up the final song “The Valley Of Elah”, which is the location of David’s encounter with Goliath and the Israelites’ victory over the Philistine army. I just thought that it was way too much of a disruption to the pace of the CD. It had all of the subtlety of a game of Red Light, Green Light. The CD’s flying along and then – screech – they hit the brakes right before the big finale. It’s not the end of the world as we know it, it just sorta loses its momentum right before the finish line.
Packaging is pretty utilitarian. A single-fold card-stock case. The cover is a hook all its own and will no doubt attract more than a few curious listeners all by itself. Unfortunately, no lyrics are provided. I like to read the lyrics whether I’m doing a review or not and since I’m lazy, I hate to have to scour the internet to find them but budgets are budgets and for whatever reason, lyrics didn’t make the final cut. I guess I can’t really complain too much, according to Google my lyrics search yielded “about 2,160,000 results in 0.23 seconds” and some of the sites even had what I was looking for.
Overall, Behold The Kingdom’s “The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail” is a first class CD that, for the most part, flows seamlessly from beginning to end and provides a heart-pounding experience in between. But like your favorite ride at Six Flags, it’s awesome… but over way too quick. Twenty-seven minutes is EP length. If the music wasn’t good, I’d say invest in something with a little more of a return but, as it stands, the music is good and it’s well worth your money. Short but sweet, it’s a well-conceived and well-crafted CD that will put a smile on your face and leave an impression in your head for quite a while. Peace.
Review by: ScottLef
Purchase the album here: Behold The Kingdom: The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail
Visit the band online at: www.myspace.com/beholdthekingdom