Swedish-based hard rock quartet Blindside has been making music together for over a decade now. Following a string of independent releases in the Christian market, the band caught a break in 2002 when they released their impressive record Silence to the mainstream audiences. Silence was a slight departure from their previous throat-ripping hardcore releases, offering more accessible melody-driven hard rock tracks. The record was easily one of the strongest rock albums to hit shelves in years and was followed-up in 2004 with their almost as memorable About A Burning Fire. The latter possessed even more of a melodic polishing to the album's edge, and produced such memorable tracks as the title song and the radio-friendly "All Of Us." Following a successful tour with P.O.D. that Summer, the band took a break to work on some new projects, and lead vocalist Christian Lindskog ventured to South Africa with World Vision for some missions work. Upon returning, Lindskog had a new outlook on life and even suffered a spell of depression. Blindside's latest installment, The Great Depression, was birthed from these hard times.
The Great Depression is a departure from what fans have come to expect from the band. The record opens subtly with a spoken-word title track that sort of drifts in to the restrained beginnings of the furious "This Is A Heart Attack." Lindskog's vocals are more emotional and unbridled, as opposed to the more controlled and structured approach the band's work displayed in recent years. At the same time, the record is a much darker effort thematically. While the songs maintain a sense of hope, the mood of the songs are dark and gloomy, with Lindskog's painful experiences evident throughout.
His experiences in South Africa inspire the aggressive "We're All Going To Die," and "Yamkela," which was titled after a 10-year-old boy stricken with AIDS. Both lament a heightened sense of mortality among today's youth. The latter bears an emotionally charged driving guitar riff and Lindskog's signature gut-bursting screams. "Put Back The Stars" drones on, preceding the album's anthemic first single, "Fell In Love With The Game," a story about wrestling with God and trying to understand His will for our lives. The songs on The Great Depression bear a more raw and organic feel. While a moderate amount of production brought vibrance to the tracks on their two previous recordings, it seems the darkness grounds much of this batch. Tragedy permeates the record, and while it oftentimes works to the advantage of a hard rock album, it almost seems to clip the band's wings here.
"We Are To Follow" encourages listeners to stop looking to the media to think for them while the dismal "Bleeding Under Your Eyelids" addresses the insecurities today's young women suffer head on. "Come To Rest" revisits the band's more hardcore days and features the former vocalist of from Self Minded screaming alongside Blindside's Lindskog. The album draws to a close with the tragic "This Time (Hesychia)," inspired by a South African man on his deathbed whom Lindskog prayed with, and the hopeful "When I Remember."
The Great Depression sees Blindside stepping out into new territory and into a bold new direction. The greatness established by Silence is all but absent from The Great Depression, as the band pulls from the darker places for inspiration. Focusing almost exclusively on such dark issues and through such a somber outlet seems to be a little too limiting. Giving the listener a more rounded view with perhaps a few upbeat tracks may have helped alleviate the album's thematic weight. But one must give props to the band for not letting themselves be placed in a box. The Great Depression is not the band's best work, but there's plenty about it to like, offering a relevant message to give the listener much to think on long after the album has finished playing.- Review date: 7/30/05, written by John DiBiase
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