A Plea For Purging : The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
RATING: (10 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: July 6th, 2010 LABEL: Facedown Records REVIEWED ON: March 5th, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Bryce CooleyREVIEW
I will admit that I am out of practice on my hardcore. I have become much more picky over the years. Before A Plea For Purging (APFP), the latest metal CD I really listened to was probably August Burns Red's Messengers. That being said, if I sound ignorant about the current trends in metal/hardcore, it's only because I am. APFP (consisting of Andy Atkins - Vocals, John Wand - Bass, Aaron Eckerman - Drums, and Blake Martin - Guitar) hail from Nashville, TN, but don't be expecting sad songs about beat up trucks. These guys bring it heavy and keep the lyrics real and convicting.
This is one of the heaviest albums I have ever listened to. The album begins with "The Eternal Female," a track lamenting the current state of the American church. On Bands on Fire Andy says, "This is a call out to the wolves hiding among us all, trying to profit off of our naivety. I’ve opened my eyes to the world around me, and I’ve found that all men have a motive, whether they claim it to be pure or not. This song is the end of our silence and the beginning of our fight." And fight they do.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is a brutal conclave of sound. Blast beats, gutteral screams and harmonic pinches are heard throughout this album. The thing I appreciated about most is that nothing felt forced or predictable. I get so bored with hardcore bands these days that feel they need to drop twenty 8-0-8's in one verse, and go with the 1/2 timing breakdown three times in a row; it all becomes so dissatisfying. But APFP never made me feel that way. I heard effects and musical concepts that I have never heard in a hardcore band, and for this reason I tip my hat to the guys.
Lyrically The Marriage of Heaven and Hell looks beneath the surface to the motive of the human heart and points out the sad truth (see Jeremiah 17:9). in the song "Trembling Hands," Andy tells us to "Question everyone. Question everything. And trust no one. Everyone has a motive. None of which are pure." Pretty bleak you say? Yes. Pretty Accurate? Unfortunately, again, Yes.
A standout track is the song "Shiver," which speaks of God's grace in the most unusual way: "If I were God we’d all be dead. If I were God we’d all be dead... We’re all dead." Andy goes on to say, "Grace sustains, but I thirst for revenge. The world would be destroyed if I were God." This was an overflow from a journal entry he had written noticing how destructive we are with God's creation and the life that He has given us. God's grace is truly amazing that He sustains us even in our depraved state.
"The Jealous Wings" (which APFP jokingly refers to as their "ballad") ties the album together lyrically into one concise thought. Written and sung by guitarist Blake Martin, "The Jealous Wings" is simple, beautiful, but fittingly convicting: "We’re not the men we were. We’re living in the shadows of intent. We’ve all been teeth in the wolf’s mouth." These lyrics challenge us all, draw us to examine our own actions and words. I am certain that I have unwittingly been a part of tearing someone down in his or her faith with my careless words.
The Marriage Between Heaven and Hell is just asking for self-reflecting. We must ask ourselves whether or not we have ever, through our thoughtless actions and motives, added to any divisiveness in the church? Are these things true of you? Are they true in our culture? The message throughout exhorts us to open our eyes, acknowledge the truth, and begin the fight. I will leave you in the same way APFP does at the end of their album:
"The day is near when everyone will stand before their maker; trust not in man, trust in God... your judgement is coming."