Christians have a bad habit of trying to find secular artists who may be Christian in order to place them on a pedestal. Artists such as U2, Sufjan Stevens, and now Mumford & Sons have all been held up as secular artists who may be Christian. These fans try to grasp at any clues in the lyrics to find inklings of Christian influence, as if that would validate that artist of being worthy of a Christian’s adulation. This often leads to disappointment when the artist, either in their interviews , lyrics or lifestyle, display behaviour that is scandalous to the scrupulous listener.
In my opinion, this is a banal way to appreciate art. One should listen to music simply because it speaks to the heart and soul. In fact, great art should mean different things to different people. There are glimpses of the truth everywhere and even the most profane artist can create a gem worthy of admiration.
This tendency to want to idolize applies even to Christian artists. Examples include Michael English and Amy Grant, who have fallen off their pedastals in various ways. Some, like Evanescence and Katy Perry, even started in Christian music but abruptly abandoned their fans in very unsavory ways.
At the end of the day, we need to place our trust in Jesus and not in whether or not some individual is a bona-fide card-carrying Christian. This is even more relevant in the hard-edged music being reviewed this month from P.O.D. and Anberlin, where the former has strained their relationship with their Christian fans with some choice profanities in their lyrics and the latter have lyrics that seem to be quite ambigous with respect to God, drugs and sex.
Payable on Death (P.O.D.)- Murdered Love
P.O.D. has arguably been one of the most successful Christian hard rock bands ever. Their albums, “Satellite (1999)” and “Fundamental Elements of Southtown (2001)”, are considered to be huge artistic and secular successes. After some tumultuous lineup changes, the band is now back with the members and producer that created these classic albums. This is great news as P.O.D. has always been one of my favorite bands, combining nu metal and rap-core, spiced with reggae. This album is definitely a return to form and include guest performances from several secular bands, such as Cypress Tree. “Murdered Love” and “Babylon the Murderer” are as good as anything the band has ever released. “Lost in Forever” and “Beautiful” display maturity in both melody and lyric, dealing with the afterlife and with suicide. Musically, the best song on the album is “I am”, a song sung from the perspective of a sinner who is questioning God. However, this is the song that will challenge many Christian listeners, with several “F-bombs” throughout. There are a few disappointments, like the bizarre “West Coast Rock Steady” but overall, this is a great return to form for P.O.D.
A review of this band is long overdue and this is a great place to start. In short, this is one of the best albums of the year. On this release, Anberlin combines their alternative rock with some of the smoothest and melodic vocals I have heard in a long time. The album starts with the intense “Self Starter” and “Little Tyrants”. The album really hits its stride in the”Other Side,” with its 80’s meets modern rock feel. “Someone Anyone” builds on this with its anti-war message. The best tracks, though, are the songs “Desires”, “Type Three” and “Orpheus” which adds to the previous songs some very creative drumming. The song “God, Drugs & Sex” will raise some eyebrows but Anberlin has never advertised itself as a Christian band. If you are looking for pointed spiritual lyrics, you won’t find it here. If you love great music with a positive message, this could be the album of the year for you.