Being that I’m not very religious at all, it’s hard for me to get into music that is overly religious. However, there’s a band out of Charlotte, NC that continues to spread His word through each and every song they release, each time impressing me more and more. That band is comprised of 5 individuals, vocalist Hudson Hower, drummer Matt Bentley, guitarist Trevor Floyd and bassist Zac Johnson. Collectively, they make up a post-hardcore force known as Bruised But Not Broken. With the release of their debut album, Fragments, they really began to come into their own. Expanding upon that, they’re ready to release their sophomore effort, where they believe they’ve found their sound and they’re telling a story that needs to be told. That album, Relevant Letters, is set to be released on October 30th via Standby Records. This album, in the words of Hower himself, “follows a girl through different accounts of spiritual warfare.” Through each of these tracks, this girl is faced with different depictions of “spirits”, whether it be those of depression, personal demons, facing the devil himself, etc. This is the band’s strongest work yet and we’re about to get into why.
The opening/title track and lead single, “Relevant Letters” begins with a call to arms by Hower as follows:
“These words are for the men that call themselves warriors
That every living heart and every broken limb was used to defend them,
These words are for every living soul that refuses to breathe in the lie of comfortability
We are the brick layers, the story tellers,
These are the Relevant Letters”
From the beginning, we hear the “devil” trying to convince the girl that her God doesn’t hear her cries. He doesn’t care that she’s hurting, that each step she takes is more painful than the last. While, on the other hand, we hear another character trying to convince her otherwise. “Mark my words, mark my words. I’ll build up more than you’ll bring down to the bottom” the protagonist tells the “devil.” While he screams to her “Is your God too deaf? Is your voice too gone? Your legs still break, yet you still press on?” This is the start of the war that the girl faces within herself and beautifully sets the scene for the album.
As the album presses on, we see the girl and the unnamed protagonist fight through depression, uncertainty and more. Each track sees an exchange between the protagonist and the “devil,” who are trying to sway the girl to choose a “side.” It seems unclear if she ever will until we get about halfway through the album to a track called “War Paint.” This track is where the girl is recruited and, more or less, forced to pick a side. Either way, there are no hard feelings but if you stand for something, you must fight for it with everything you are. In the end, the girl picks the side of “good” and we begin to see a change of heart within her. The general readies her, showing her how much more powerful the side of “light” is versus the “dark” side that the devil brings to the table. Everything may seem so tempting, so lovely but in the end, he just desires to use you as a puppet, bending you to his every whim.
“De-Vision” is the track that sees a concept of science vs. religion. They say that if there was a God, we’d see him. Well, how do we explain the beginning of existence? The world that lies before us and the massive universe that we’ve yet to explore? This is a track that tries to settle that argument once and for all. Just because science can disprove certain things, doesn’t mean that the big mystery is solved. There are certain things in life that just can’t be explained by science. “We need less lights, less cameras, more action!” Hower screams as he cries out against the media’s obsession on the darker side of life. Rally up and fight against what you feel is wrong, what you KNOW is wrong, rather than glorifying it in the light of the media.
The final 3 tracks on the album, “Visual Creatures,” “Prophet Margins” and “White Flag” are the climax of the battle. “Visual Creatures” is the account of a man, seemingly the girl’s father, realizing how wrong he’s treated his little girl. He believed that she should have all the material things she wants, sacrificing his time with her to make more money. He fell prey to the sweet temptations of sin, falling into debt because he wanted to give her everything she desires. However, he ultimately realizes that a relationship with his little girl and the Lord are far greater a priority than anything tangible. “Prophet Margins” is a take on how money is the root of all evil. It gets deep into the skin of man and causes them to create greater sins than if it didn’t exist. This world is far too focused on what “profit” can be made, rather than what they can do to better this world. “White Flag” is an account of the girl (or the protagonist, who seems to be her father) surrendering their life to a higher purpose, realizing that He has been there all along. They speak of how much better they feel physically, mentally and spiritually, now that they’ve devoted their life to Him.
Finally, “†” is, again, either character recounting each of the sins they’ve fallen victim to. Calling out and letting those know, who are facing the same temptations, that it’s not ultimately worth it. Focus on your family, your relationship with Him and what you can do to make this world a better place. Spread His word and love thy neighbor. It ends with a prayer, which I believe is from Hower on how amazing the message in this album is, how he hopes that everyone who hears it will realize the band is trying to tell us and how much he loves each and every one of us that listens to this album.
This album is heavily spiritual, as you can clearly tell. Even if you’re not religious, though, you can find a way to take something away from this. We all fight some type of demon on a daily basis, some type of temptation or some type of trial. This is a reminder that those fights make us stronger. The title Relevant Letters, wasn’t ironically chosen. This is a collection of songs that help you to see the bigger picture. These truly are Relevant Letters in that the message they’re trying to bring forth is a 100% relative one. Be sure to pick up your copy of Relevant Letters on Standby Records, October 30th! You won’t regret it!
*NOTE: The opinions expressed in this review are strictly my interpretations of each of these songs. As such, they do not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of Bruised But Not Broken or Standby Records! If you want vocalist, Hudson Hower’s strict interpretations of the tracks, follow this link*
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