Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Heavy metal is about as diverse an art form as one can imagine. If you think about the styles of playing or the visuals associated with it really can become overwhelming. I mean how can you describe this music to someone who has never heard it? As easy as it sounds I challenge you to do so in terms that your hip hop loving friends would use. Not that easy is it? And especially since this form of art is constantly evolving and adding new elements.

In times past and often today we the metal ‘elite’ would often define bands music by their vocalist. How many times have I heard this phrase “This band sounds like Slayer…” or “They sound just like Queensryche” or “Maiden” or “Metallica.” This is so true especially in the metal arena occupied by most Christians. How many of us were waiting for a Christian “Slayer” or “AC/DC” or “Judas Priest” or “Slipknot” (I’m not…) or you name it.

That brings me to the disc I have in hand, Faith Factors “Against the Darkened Sky.” Some of the promotional material indicates ‘Progressive Power Metal for fans of Dragon Force, Rob Rock, Helloween and Sacred Warrior!” While I would agree with the “Progressive Power Metal” tag I don’t really hear any of the other bands on the musical side. Perhaps because of Faith Factors lead vocalist Ski those comparisons were made. Whatever the reason, there is a lot going on here.

Strong power metal with many progressive elements that grind and chew on you until you must sit and listen to it. This ain’t an album to have playing in the background, Faith Factor force you to listen, not just hear them. Perhaps it’s the European flavor that shines through in the mood and feel. The moody dark cover is simply a hint of what is to come, yet the message is far from dark but a light shining into the darkness.

After a short instrumental introduction ‘Keep It True’ tears it up with strong power chords and progressive harmonies. Yet this track stays true to its metal roots and just drives along with pulsating rhythms and soaring vocals. Chris Matusieski and Blaine Booth grind those guitars and make them submit into a musical union that proves they master the art of power playing. This combo makes this statement throughout ‘Against a Darkened Sky.’ Dan Jefferson and Joe Mangham (on drums and bass respectively) provide superb rhythms.

‘Light Replaces Darkness,’ ‘Armor of God’ are just the tip of this metal iceberg. Powerful melodies courtesy of Ski and finely tuned instrumental passages deliver this barrage in powerful fashion. ‘Armor of God’ is perhaps the closest thing to a straight ahead metal tune and it’s a solid reminder not to bring a pocket knife to a sword fight. Many of Faith Factors compositions have acoustic or slower melodic passages right in the middle of the metal bombardment. That would be what is called dynamics.

“Ascend unto Heaven” stands out as the longest song, clocking in at over 11 minutes, but this metal passage doesn’t wander needlessly through a maze of musical indulgence. It drives to a pointed conclusion that is powerful indeed. Ski again shows why his reputation as a strong vocalist is well deserved.

Lyrically Faith Factor is bold in their statement of faith. However the lyrics are more story than evangelical tract. Plenty of meat on the bones which communicate in a deeper way that a ‘Jesus loves you.’

For me the only drawback was the guitar sound which did sound overly processed and compressed. A bigger sound might’ve given the songs more of the punch they so richly deserved. Honestly that is a small criticism that can hopefully be corrected on their next release. Might I also suggest at least one or two straight out fast songs to break up the tempo a bit? However these small items fail to detract from the mission of Faith Factor or the enjoyment of this release.

‘Against a Darkened Sky’ has developed quite the reputation in the metal underground and it’s easy to see why. Strong performances and in depth writing with energetic songs allow Faith Factor to rise above mediocrity to complete the calling they have in their hearts. Keep it true indeed.

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Faith Factor live @ KIT 11

Visions in Fear | MySpace Video


JTL said...

I have this album! "Ascend" is my favorite track. Check out my blog, I'm new to music reviews.

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