In today's fast-paced, Internet-centered world, it's hard to think of an album having a lot of significance. For most people, gone are the days of waking up early and waiting in a long line at the record store on the day of your favorite band's new release. If a great album comes out, iTunes is only a click away. In fact, if there are only a few good songs on the album, then only those songs have to be purchased. Yet, maybe it's more than just nostalgia that makes an entire album great. Perhaps it's like a puzzle. Alone, each song may be enjoyable, yet together they are so much more. Together they transcend being just a collection of songs and become a window into the hearts of the band members themselves. Every song together forms an album. Every album together forms a collection. And since 1992, Disciple has been creating one of the most prolific and impressive collections in all of Christian rock music.
It wasn't until 2001's By God that Disciple really began to come into their own. They had gained an underground following from earlier successful releases, such as What Was I Thinking? and This Might Sting a Little, but at that point they were just that; underground. Hard music wasn't as prominent in Christian music circles yet, and even the formation of mainstream sensation The Devil Wears Prada was still four years away. Disciple was an anomaly. They weren't supposed to be successful. Yet, By God garnered two Dove Award nominations and numerous radio hits. It opened the door to what has become a very successful and notable career. Building upon the foundation set by their earlier albums, Disciple's turn of the century release began to set in motion an irreversible path for their lives.
In 2003, the band released Back Again, an unbelievably heavy tribute to the talent and songwriting ability of the members. It was highly successful, yet something seemed to be missing. The heaviness of the record made it rather one sided, and the band's ability to craft slower, mid-tempo songs and ballads was missing. That's why their 2005 release, simply titled Disciple, proved to be a little more radio friendly. Thinking that perhaps they had finally found their sound, the band abandoned some of their harder tendencies and thrust themselves into the mainstream with their SRE Recordings/Epic release. The band once again garnered multiple Dove Award nominations and even broke a few Christian radio records. Building upon their success, the group released Scars Remain in 2006. Perhaps it was too soon after their self-titled album, but the band experienced success nonetheless through its hit single "After the World."
Since they first experienced widespread success in 2001, the band slowly began to leave its Southern roots. While hints of their Tennessee heritage remained, their sound became more of a mix of metal and radio rock. That all changed with 2008's Southern Hospitality. An inspired collection of metal, radio rock and pure Southern metal, the album was a return to some aspects of the band's earlier style.
Go ahead and flash-forward to right now, and Disciple's newest outing, Horseshoes and Handgrenades. What the informed listener will find is that this album is a combination of all of the band's previous work. It is the missing part of the puzzle (And with so many member changes over the last few years, it's hard not to wonder if it is the final piece). Fortunately, the songs featured on Horseshoes and Handgrenades are among some of the best music that the band has ever made. While sticking close to the hard rock formula that they are known for, Disciple branches out at times on songs such as the made-for-radio first single "Dear X, You Don't Own Me." At the same time, they maintain their Southern roots rediscovered on their last album in tracks such as "Shot Heard 'Round the World" and "Battle Lines." Horseshoes and Handgrenades is the perfect snapshot of the career of a highly successful band. In some sense, it is the ultimate tribute; a best-of collection of entirely new songs.
One of the standout tracks is the album's closer, "Worth the Pain." In the song, vocalist and only remaining original member, Kevin Young, proclaims "It's worth the pain, God's in the rain. It's never too late to start again. It's worth the pain, so hold on tonight." There will be a time in the life of every Christian that they feel abandoned by God. Through an unexpected death, or a personal struggle, they may feel that God is punishing them, or that they are not worthy of His grace. Yet, through whatever trial and tribulation we may face, He is there. It is through these moments that He reminds us of His love. And spiritually, this speaks to the message of the album's title. Horseshoes and Handgrenades symbolizes that even though we may never come close to Christ's perfection, through His grace we can be close to Him.
Spiritually and musically, this album is everything that Disciple stands for; the love and redeeming power of Jesus Christ combined with incredibly talented rock. Horseshoes and Handgrenades is a fantastic album.- PReview date: 8/1/10, written by John "Flip" Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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