May 18, 2005

Forever Changed "The Need to Feel Alive"

I once heard a funny but apt quote from King Of The Hill, in reference to Christian Rock. In it, Hank Hill stated to a Christian rock band, "Don't you understand? You're not making Christianity better, you're making rock & roll WORSE." Sadly, that statement is quite true, and even some of my more religious friends agree with that sentiment. There are some bands, though, that break the chains of Christian music mediocrity, such as Danielson Famile, Pedro the Lion, Sufjan Stevens and Starflyer 59. These are artists who make uncompromising music that's strong in artistic achievement yet shows the deepness of their faith.

Then you have those that try hard to be contemporary. Bands come along and claim the contemporary styles as their own--often when the trend is dying out--applying their prinicples and core beliefs to the trendy new, hip sound. It's not unsurprising that the hip thing gets converted into something equally bland as Contemporary Christian Music, all in an attempt to reach a target youth organization. It's also not surprising that these bands occasionally have big hits, too--Stryper, Jars of Clay, Sixpence None the Richer, Collective Soul or Evanescence, anyone?

Hailing from a Jimmy Eat World/Brand New/Further Seemed Forever emo-rock school of influence, Forever Changed falls into that category. In an odd twist, emo's emotionally-charged, heartfelt and personal lyrical content couldn't be more perfect for the deep-seated spiritual statements of Christianity: wrong-doing, heartbreak, disappointment and the need for salvation and redemption. Thus, initially it's hard to hear Forever Changed as anything more--or less--than another boring emo band. Songs like "Great Divide" and "Opportunity (We Could Be The Ones)" are big, anthemic stadium emo-rock that sound as if they're ripe for radio play on the stations that play this modern-rock stuff.

It would not be right to criticize Forever Changed (or any other Christian or non-Christian artist) for their particular beliefs. Though I'm neither a fan of either emo or Christian rock, I can't state that The Need To Feel Alive is a bad record, because they're doing exactly what they set out to do, and it's obvious that they can do things like write good songs and play their instruments. If it's big success that they want, it sounds possible. If it's relevence with the youth of today, for those that go for CCM, then yeah, this will probably be up their alley. For the rest of us, though, Forever Changed comes across as merely business as usual from the Christian music market.

--Joseph Kyle

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