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Artist: Becoming The Archetype
Label: Solid State Records
Length: 10 Tracks / 43:22
If you're as old as me, you remember third wave ska. In Christian circles, that meant Five Iron Frenzy, The OC Supertones, and The Insyderz - the band that turned out some (admittedly decent) ska worship records, appropriately entitled Skaleluia!. On one of those records, at the beginning of a decidedly non-metal song, one of the band members introduces the track by saying "Christian Metal never dies, baby!". I remember when that record came out, and I remember my friends repeating that quote ad-nauseum (friends who really weren't into actual Christian metal, nevermind even knowing what metal is for that matter). Either way, I appreciated the sentiments - Christian metal really never does die. Thus, although the source is suspect, the addage rings true.
Becoming the Archetype (hereafter BtA) burst onto the metal scene in 2005's Terminate Damnation. At the time, the record was quite a departure for label home Solid State, who hadn't had an honest-to-goodness metal band on their roster since the legendary Living Sacrifice folded a year or two prior. Full of great riffs, solos, and varied and complex orchestration, Terminate Damnation was a bright spot the year of its release. The band followed up with The Physics of Fire in 2007 and it was largely more of the same - lots of metal riffage, lots of great solos, a great mix of pacing, and more of the interesting orchestral accompaniment. Throughout both records, BtA explored traditional metal, progressive metal, death metal, doom, metalcore and other various styles within that spectrum.
This past year, 2008, brought BtA's third and most recent outing - a collection of ten songs by the name of _Dichotomy_. Borrowing some of its lyrical themes from the science fiction "Space Trilogy" of C.S. Lewis, the titular 'dichotomy' lies between biology and technology - man and machine. Fairly typical sci-fi fare, but rather atypical for metal fare. Of course, seeing as this isn't a concept record, and seeing as this is Becoming the Archetype, there is also a good smattering of biblically inspired lyrics to round out the content. Demon Hunter's Ryan Clark comes through with some great guest vocals (clean and scream) on a handfull of tracks. Topics covered range from considering the superiority of the things God has created relative to the things man has made ("Artificial Immortality") to a retelling of one of the Bible's most damning passages (Romans 1 - on "Dichotomy") to an imaginative and powerful account of seeing Christ's empty tomb ("Self Existent"). The best song on the record, though, undoubtedly goes to the one track that BtA didn't write - namely, their dominating and intense take on the classic hymn "How Great Thou Art".
Becoming the Archetype follows in the lyrical footsteps of some of the great "Spirit-Filled Hardcore" of the 90's - bands like Focused and Unashamed... and rides the musical wave that started with Living Sacrifice's legendary album Reborn. In 2008, the result is bone-crunching progressive death metal (real metal, not a hybrid) with unabashed Christian lyrics whose primary source is Scripture, whose primary tone is worship, and whose voice is unapoligetic, direct, and bold. Highly recommended, high-quality metal. The music is great, the vocals are great, the production is great, and the solos (yes, the solos) are great. This is this band's best album to date. All of that being said, the thing which most impressed itself upon this reviewer is that Becoming the Archetype has finally arrived at a place where they write really catchy songs - the kind that get stuck in your head. The technical proficiency and musicianship has always been there, but this time around BtA really nailed their sound, their content, and their focus. Dichotomy is amazing. Christian metal never dies, baby.
Curious about the name? The band's website says this: "According to Genesis 1:26, "God said, 'Let us make man in our image'". Since Jesus was the only person to ever live a sinless life, He is the ultimate archetype (or original design) of humanity. As a result, the life of a [Christian] is all about being conformed to the image of God or in other words; becoming the archetype."
I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who loves metal and is becoming like our archetype, Jesus.
Standout Tracks: How Great Thou Art, End of the Age, Ransom, Self Existent.
Jerry Bolton (bloodletting.blogspot.com)