Reform the Resistance isn't afraid to scream, shout and sing about their beliefs. This is a Christian band, make no mistake about it. Whether that's your thing or not is up to you, of course, but there are moments on The Truth is Dangerous that prove downright off-putting in their lyrical imagery.
The band is all over the map in terms of style (see cover art, for instance), which is both a help and a hindrance. It's hard to get a read on an act that swings wildly from Radiohead-influenced backdrops to splices of hardcore, screamo and electronica woven into one song. Three angsty-teen cheers for inventiveness, I guess, but Reform the Resistance comes off as indecisive as it rolls through every trick in the book.
Comprised of Phoenix's Jason Moncivaiz (vocals and guitar), Sambo Moncivaiz (bass) and Nashville's Ryan Dugger (drums), Reform the Resistance came to be out of the ashes of Justifide. This was the previous effort from the Moncivaiz brothers, but a lack of label support for their faith-based direction turned them off. They scrapped it, started anew with Reform the Resistance and brought Dugger along for the wild ride.
There's no questioning the passion these guys have for what they believe in, musically and spiritually. They choose the heavy direction with respect to both concepts and, more often than not, crank up the volume until it blows out the speakers.
Jason is a perfectly competent vocalist and he's got a surprisingly broad range. He has no problem tackling the higher registry and sinks his teeth in to the beautiful but predictable ballads, like "We Belong Together," as well as he cranks it out on the more upbeat numbers.
"Kill Lies" boots off The Truth is Dangerous with a shout-along pace and some weird electronic-filtered vocals. Yells come from a large throng somewhere in the back and the chorus hits all the right spots, setting up a nice energy.
But then things get strange. The Christian imagery crops through on tracks like "Mercy in Blood" and the creepy "Are You One of Us or One of Them?" The latter carries haunting mood and hushed vocals asking what side we're on. Passages like "Back to the front lines, we were born to die" create disturbing imagery over the pounding techno beat.
"This Present Darkness" offers more of the same, with lines like "The end is coming, we will not bow down to anyone" punching up the war rhetoric to 11.
Again, I get it. I know that blood and violence are all part and parcel with this sort of confrontational brand of Christianity. Washed in the blood, take up your swords, whatever. I've got no problem with the expression of belief, but when it sounds like a series of violent threats I become very discouraged. The message of love found in tracks like "Mercy in Blood," with its vampire-inspired lyricism, kind of ring hollow after so much aggression.
Sure to fuel the stereos of thousands of Christian teens the world over, Reform the Resistance's The Truth is Dangerous isn't a bad effort, but its frighteningly violent imagery sends mixed messages and the record feels an awful lot like a Ron Luce-inspired Battlecry complete with loud shouts and militarism. Count me out.