Among the many valiant Christian metal bands infiltrating the secular realm, there is Cincinnati-born Corpus Christi. Having been signed into a five records contract with Victory Records, they have a long road ahead of them to build and refine their style. But apart from being set for several years to come, this contract offers a perfect opportunity to shine through to the curious and unbelieving masses. Their steadfast message hasn't changed since their first album, but you can expect quite a difference musically from their sophomore, A Feast For Crows.
"I am the Cornerstone. I am the Great Physician. Separating marrow from bone. I am the King of Glory. Who was and is and is to come. I am the way, the truth, the life, Almighty Holy One." The tracks are all separated into two extremely different topics. Half of the songs accuse and judge our world, as corrupt as it is. "All hail the shrine to the apex of self-absorption. All you kings will be made low." But in the remaining tracks, they admit to falling short of God's expectations and plead forgiveness. "I am…the product of all the bad choices I've made." "Here I am. Can You make me whole again?"
It's a plain and understandable plea. When we realize that we are "not strong enough to stand beneath the shame of betrayed redemption," we can call on the Jesus' forgiveness. In A Feast For Crows, CC takes a more visceral approach. They vocalize each song as if the rapture was upon the writer of the lyrics. The broken have God to purify them, but the unsaved have only to be consumed by the world.
Now for the massive warping in their music: replacing four members in a five piece band takes a hefty toll. Guitarist/vocalist Jarrod Christman is the only survivor of CC's purge, yet I am still a little surprised that A Feast For Crows didn't turn out even farther from The Darker Shades of White than it did. "The Red Horse Is Upon Us" is a little slow to start, but soon enough "A Portrait of Modern Greed" shakes up the speakers with an onslaught of blast beats. The movement upward on the brutality scale is evident; the only remaining quality is the clean vocals that have transferred over from their first album. Unfortunately, these are CC's weakest quality at this point.
Before the end of the second track, excellent drum control and spectacular guitar finger work take the reigns. No new ground is broken, but that doesn't have to stop anyone from having a good time. Fluttery shredding and brick-heavy breakdown beats wipe away all thoughts of CC's previous sound. Tracks like "Little Miss Let You Know" and "Monuments" speak with a new kind of power that out shines the predictability of The Darker Shades of White, while "Broken" implements a passionate pendulum swing from face-breaking chugging and gut-wrenching screams to bright clean vocal choruses. Of course a bouncy breakdown dead center doesn't hurt either.
Among other improvements, Corpus Christi has found a comfortable formula that keeps each track interesting. Not a second is left bare, and repetition is rubbed out almost flawlessly. Plain chugging quickly meets breakdowns, while full anthem choruses are decorated with highly welcoming guitar solos. "Blood in the Water" is a metal monster constructed around the "horrible watery death" motif that hardly ever goes wrong. Though earlier in the album, the clean vocals were slightly off tune, here they start finding their place. A hair-raising build up leads to another crushing breakdown/guitar solo duet which plummets headlong into "Invictus," which pounds and destroys once more before "(Seeing You Again) For the First Time" trickles out the rushing flow of energy. The decreased tempo would usually call for softer instruments, including clean vocals, but it seems even more appropriate when paired with vicious vocals instead. The final track, "Shepherds in Sheep's Clothing" sets the stage for a massive end to the album. Thrash and blast beats get the extremities moving, but more guitar solos, more breakdowns? I say to you, there is no better way to go out than in violent flames and adrenaline.
A Feast For Crows is certainly a step in the right direction for Corpus Christi, but because of the huge lineup change, they've almost had to start from scratch. All that considered, this is a sophomore album that surpasses by far The Darker Shades of White. The musicianship has taken great strides forward, but overall, it still lacks anything new to contribute. With quality quite improved, I should hope that their next album will see a more unique sound. Fans of As I Lay Dying and War of Ages may have their plates full already, but if you're new to metal and you want something with real Christian passion, by all means give A Feast For Crows your attention.- Review date: 7/5/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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