Sullivan was just beginning to gain some notoriety when they abruptly stopped making music together. Now, seven years later, the band is back together. While the guys didn't sign with their old label in Tooth and Nail, they did, however, go with a familiar face. Spartan Records founder, John T. Frazier, was in marketing for T&N and Solid State during Sullivan's stint with the label. Front man, Brooks Paschal, even credited their relationship with Frazier as the key factor when deciding to sign with Spartan. Heavy is the Head is the band's third full-length album and shows an improvement after their seven year hiatus. Musically, their newest effort is a little more cohesive and on point, but even more improvement is noticed in Paschal's vocals. Once a more acquired taste, Brooks sings with a much better clarity, and overall more appealing sound, this time around.
"You Don't Mean It" starts the album off on the right foot. Brooks sings out, "Saying you don't mean it doesn't always make it right," in the chorus as a reminder that consequences and mistakes aren't always fixed by a simple cover-all statement. "Where the Pavement Meets the Road" picks up the speed a bit and is solid rocker. "Profile" is yet another rocking track with a catchy hook. The lyrics speak of the control of fear and wanting to go back for a second chance. The first single, "What's Good For the King," is up next. The song starts off with a Beatles-esque sound in all respects. Everything from the instruments, music, and vocals scream Beatles. The song shift gears, though, as the distorted guitars kick in at the fifty second mark. The song tells a rather tragic tale of a house that burns down. The mother of the family is "still in bed" (and taking pills illicitly) while the father is "M.I.A." While it's a somewhat depressing song from a lyrical standpoint, it stands out as a rather epic feeling ballad. "The Other Side" and "Pieces" add a little synth to the mix and hold their own as enjoyable tunes.
The Beatles sound returns on a smaller scale for what is arguably the best track on the album in "Melanoma Lullaby." The song doesn't maintain a typical arrangement of verse-chorus-verse-chorus, but the passion sung in the lyrics of the chorus/bridge is undeniable. Brooks sings, "Dear God, I'm a mess; I have nothing left. I stole all my charm from the maker's mill," and caps the end of that repeated line with the question, "Do you love me still?" "Higher Ground" and "Statuette" are two more fast-paced rockers that play out nicely down the final stretch. The latter of the two songs has a bit of a "serial killer" vibe to it lyrically and matches the intensity of the fairly disturbing album cover. "Seagrams" is a very short song, clocking in at just over one minute in length (and only 34 words), and plays out better thematically than anything. Another of the record's best numbers is saved for last. "Playing With Fire" is a great sounding rock song that many are likely to love. The infectious nature of the music just makes you want to hit repeat on the track after it's over.
Sullivan's return to the scene is a triumph. The sound of Heavy is the Head is fresh, yet familiar. While there are influences from the Beatles to My Chemical Romance clearly present, the music doesn't latch on to one of those particular sounds. Sullivan runs the gamut and gives you some intensity mixed with slower moments. Some may complain that they haven't grown any in seven years and cite that they are still playing music from the yesteryear, but I would argue that today's scene could use the lessons of a time since forgotten. Outside of "Seagrams," this is a record you can hit play on and not push another track button until it's over. If you're looking for a highly spiritual rock release, you probably want to keep looking, but if you are looking for some lyrics that are a bit deeper (they require time and thought) and open to interpretation, Brooks Paschal's latest track-listing is a good place to dig. Heavy is the Head could be Sullivan's best record to date and deserves some attention amongst all of the holiday music releasing this season. You should pick up this enjoyable rock album today. Welcome back, fellas!- Review date: 12/3/14, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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