Conceptualization: An Album Review.
I don’t usually take blog space to review pop-culture… usually I take blog space to criticize pop-culture… but in this instance, I am feeling a need to take a quick break from the discussion on Ephesians 3:16-19 to call attention to one of the most unheralded releases of all time.
To qualify, I have recently been feeling the need to pray for forerunners and messengers in the art cultures of the world. While sitting the in the prayer room and getting revelation is awesome, there is an abject need for those who can declare the revelation in an artistic, yet clear manner. For a taste of the small beginnings of this prayer, check out The Eternal Uprising or The Ruckus Journal (both authored by friends of mine). However, I have recently discovered that God, as usual, was a couple steps ahead of me.
Flash back to 1998. Bill Clinton was President and embroiled in the Monica Lewisnky stuff. Some rather odd Christians were preparing for the “imminent return of Christ in the year 2000”. The church was getting rocked by outbreaks of revival in Toronto and Kelowna, Canada; the Left Behind Series reached the NYT Best Seller list; and Metro Christian Fellowship (KC,MO) was preparing to launch the International House of Prayer-Kansas City. It is in this cataclysmic swirl of political scandal and eschatologically relevant events that we find Southern California’s Goth-Metal band known as Saviour Machine. In 1998, Saviour Machine began what would be their most ambitious and epic (as well as final) project called “The Legend”.
The Legend, in it’s most basic form, is a four-part concept album based on, and telling the story of, the Book of Revelation. As intense as that may sound, it was made more so by the fact that the Legend is essentially a five-hour Neo-Gothic Rock Opera. As noticed in the caption, however, it is also incomplete. “The Legend III: II” was slated to be released on July 07, 2007, but was delayed when lead singer Eric Clayton was diagnosed with Esophageal cancer earlier in 2007. For fans of the band, they have been eagerly awaiting the completion and release of “III: II” ever since.
Now, Rock Opera isn’t for everybody… Gothic Rock Opera is excessively so. However, I have never heard anything as emotionally powerful, theologically deep, and outright jaw-dropping before in my life. With the operatic baritone of Eric Clayton leading a powerful charge into the darkness of apocolyptic prophecy, I have been pulled close to tears on many occasions just hearing the calls for the prophets to arise and for the nations to gather at Megiddo. The combination of the full orchestra with the Goth-metal band is an arrangement that pulls you into the world of the apocalypse almost effortlessly and then pounds your emotions to a pulp with the drama of the overall narrative and the revelation woven throughout the lyrics (highlights including the rejection of Replacement and Reconstructionism/Dominion Theology, as well as the hardcore push of the hope of the Resurrection in pre-millennialism). Holding the entire album together is the interspersion of the “voice of many waters” proclaiming the apocolyptic scriptures between tracks, along with various sounds of war (air-raid sirens, machine guns, helicopter blades, stuff like that).
As for Saviour Machine themselves, a lot of Americans have never heard of this band because of their raucus history with the American music industry. Due to the intense Gothic imagery used by Saviour Machine (both on stage and in the lyrics), they only ever performed one American tour with comrades-at-arms Deliverance and had it suddenly cut short when the management of a club in Minnesota cut the power during the show and escorted the band off-stage. After declaring their discomfort with direction of the show, management was booed off the stage and Saviour Machine never did another US tour. Then, to add insult to injury, Saviour Machine had their albums banned from most Christian bookstores due to the lyrics of the song “Legion” that were misconstrued as explicit sexuality (to be clear, they are not- but rather they are Revelation 12).
Taking all of this into consideration, I have no difficulty in recommending to anyone who cares to read this post to get your hands on The Legend if you can. iTunes sells all three of the already-released albums, and I’m sure that they will have “III: II” when it hits shelves (provided Eric Clayton can finish the album). It is also through this, that I am getting a renewed vision for praying for the arts. Were I to make a judgement call, the controversy surrounding Saviour Machine can be chalked up to the persecution of the forerunners, and Eric Clayton’s throat cancer to demonic attack. Come on… he comes down with cancer in his throat while working of the part of the album that pronounces judgement on the Antichrist, the destruction of Satan, and the Father living with mankind for all eternity… that is hardly coincidence in my book. However, my personal rantings aside, I highly recommend The Legend to all my listeners. For my regular readers, I will continue my discussion of Ephesians in short order.