The phrase "Don't judge a book by it's cover" can also apply for music, as the self-titled release by These 5 Down proves. The album cover art for the band's self-titled release is, simply put, odd, kind of off-putting, and gives off a sense of low production quality. That's not the case, however, as for a 1999 nu-metal release, These 5 Down keep up a fairly clear sound.
"Low" kicks off These 5 Down well, asking someone "How low did you go, to get that high," an interesting take on not selling yourself out to have what some believe is a "better" life. "Hit the Wall" follows in a much heavier fashion than the first track and talks of us thinking everything is going fine, but it takes a turn for the worse, so we should turn to God for help. "What's Your Kind" is a slightly depressing song about getting caught up in the world, and how he "...followed the wrong God". I say it's depressing because there isn't really any redemption or salvation in the end, as there often is in Christian songs.
Following is one of the highlights of the album, "Revelation War;" it's kept very interesting all the way through, not sounding too repetitive, and features a lot of extra sounds/noises in the background, keeping it exciting. "Enslaved" is up next, and this is where we start to see the downfall of the record: The repetition. It's not even necessarily the music, which is often the case for heavier bands, but the vocals stick to the same sound/pattern, while the music actually stays fairly diverse. Through the songs, the choruses are typically repeated twice before moving on to the verse, or bridge, or whatever it is that's next. Also, aside from within the songs, the whole album seems to stick to a general format of:
Slow first verse
Faster second verse
Intense bridge and intense chorus/outro
This is not to say "Enslaved" is boring, but it stands out a lot less right after "Revelation War" and becomes the point at which repetition is most noticeable. "Stand" offers a good message of standing up for what you believe in and is a good song overall, but it's not as interesting as the other album highlights -- two of which succeed it. "Hymn" is a very basic idea: list a bunch of bad things and say Jesus conquers them, which is what the band does. Although it's so simple lyrically, it actually sounds pretty cool, and states "All in the name of Jesus, I bind you up." It's always nice when bands take the step to blatantly acknowledge Jesus. "I Am the Media" is my personal favorite. When I first heard it, I thought I'd scratched my disc or something, because it sounded like complete nonsense. The lyrics go "Aidem eht ma I" (repeatedly). If you actually look at it, it's clearly "I am the media" backwards, which is a unique idea and sounds great the way These 5 Down present it. It's a strong song from start to finish, obviously about the media around us corrupting society, and us not expecting it (Still, it's also a little bit repetitive).
After two great songs, "Dream Again" is only standard fare. The repetition throughout afflicts this song too and keeps it kind of bland (though they mention wanting people to see God in their lives which is a nice touch). "One Wicked Eye" follows suit, although a little more brooding and creepy in sound, it builds up fairly well but still sticks to the aforementioned formula. And lastly, "Get It Back" ends it all with another decent song that adheres to the formula. There's nothing all that special about this one.
Overall, These 5 Down is a good listen with good production quality, some interesting music and the vocals are good (though very Korn-like), but overall it's nothing extraordinary. The album is not groundbreaking by any means and nothing controversial enough to make it memorable either. If you're not into buying songs that sound so similar from one to the next, stick with download the highlights separately ("Revelation War," "Hymn," and "I Am the Media"); they could be good additions to your hard rock/metal music library. These 5 Down is recommended for fans of Korn and other nu-metal bands.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 5/25/11, written by Mark Mauer for Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Absolute Records
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