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  To the Black Land
Artist: Brother Down
Label: Independent
Length: 14/66:06

Simply put, this is the best independent disc I’ve heard for a while. Brother Down almost invents a new genre: acoustic progressive music.  Their sounds mixes Jars of Clay, Kansas, Queensryche, Extreme, and others into a melting pot, and manages not to lose the best elements of each.

“Freedom” is one of the strongest tracks.  Based on the book Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, it is strongly reminiscent of Rich Mullins’ Canticle of the Plains:

 I’m in love with freedom
 I’m in love with wide blue open sky
 I’m in love with a life poured forth
 From a Servant’s pierced side
 I’m a slave with freedom
 I am free, though body they may bind
 ‘Cause my name is written on the hand
 Of the Man who was before there was time.
“Love Speaks” features strong vocals by Chris Reno, backed with acoustic guitar and violin, which lends the tune a Kansas-like feeling.  “Attic” is another standout, a lot like Jars of Clay’s first two albums.  “Captain,” which deals with restoration, is rife with harmonies. 

“Emancipation,” viewed as Christ speaking to Peter, is an acoustically based number that is richly layered, and would be a great piece of ear candy, if not for the poignant nature of its lyrics.

To the Black Land stands as a breakthrough debut for Brother Down.  It is much more polished than most first efforts, and makes me hope for more from this band.

Brian A. Smith  January 17, 2004


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