I look endlessly for songs that move me; songs that carry me to a new place or introduce me to a new contour in the human experience – and in particular our experience as it relates to a God who moves dynamically in our world. I believe songs should reflect the creative spirit of a God who creates by His very nature. I want songs to move me. Perhaps I’m slightly jaded from decades of hearing what (to me) sounds like the same song recapitulated again and again. So the bar for me is high. Give me something new that moves me, and I will celebrate it.
Attalus is a Christian band from North Carolina, signed to Facedown Records. Their new full-length record, Into the Sea hit the market earlier this year. If you like creative rock music that is musically excellent and spiritually genuine – this is it. It is an epic work – nearly an hour and 20 minutes. With such a long play time it is harder to get to the material toward the end, but the end is where it shines. It is a program piece – the entire record uses a nautical theme to weave spiritual concepts into the whole, which really works well.
One song that is utterly remarkable is found deep in the record – the 13th track, “Safe”. It’s hard to imagine a musical expression of the hope of heaven with a completely fresh take, but Attalus pulls it off. The song is structured into two main sections – each approximately three minutes. Avoid the temptation to figure that you’ve got the gist and check out after the first minute. Stay with it, the best is yet to come.
Safe starts out as an instrumental prelude, the A section which builds upon a theme using the chord progression 1, 6, 3 (I, iv, iii). This sequence is repeated as it builds and adds layers; two counter-melodies by the lead guitar and piano. (piano plays a large part in the bands distinct shape and sound) As the listener is drawn into the sequence and tempo of the instrumental opening, at the 3 minute mark it ends abruptly, and this is where it gets really, really good.
The B section begins in a new key with the rhythm guitar chugging out a new chord progression, and a creative little thing too: 1 major, 2 major, 4 minor (I, II, iv). The last chord – the 4 minor creates a tension that stays with the listener long after the progression moves on. Like I said – I like music that moves me. But the best is still yet to come…
It is here that band member Evan King (guitars and vocals), breaks open the lyrics. But not singing, speaking, with passion, excitement, and even longing. The lyrics, taken from the Puritan classic, The Valley of Vision compare the state of things here on earth with what we imagine on faith we will experience in our eternity with Christ, and crescendos to a pattern of cries beginning with “give me to know that…” This motif builds through the rest of the song until its anthemic ending, capturing the essence of Christian hope for end-things.
Although the catalog of Christian music has many songs that seek to express the wonder of what’s to come, I have found few that use imagine, passion, and musical excellence as this song. It is truly remarkable – it’s my song of the week. I hope you’ll give it a listen.