A Divided Man
- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Every once in a while a band comes to the United States Christian music scene after having an enormous impact in Europe. Soapbox is the latest in the hardcore realm to do so thanks to Solid State Records, which also has imported the likes of Extol, Blindside, and Lengsel. Vocalist Simon Brannstrom, guitarist Par E. Augustin, bassist Krister Mortsell, and drummer Andreas Rejdvik have been together four years and hail from Umea, Sweden. They were signed by the Dutch label Sally Forth Records in late 1999 and since then have garnered critical acclaim in several Dutch music publications, as well as airplay on the Swedish National Radio show P3 Rock.
A Divided Man was released in Europe for the band's 2000 tour, which touched down at the FLEVO Festival, one of the biggest festivals in Holland with more than 10,000 hardcore fans in attendance. The group is poised to bring their high-energy, ear-piecing sounds to the states for the summer festival circuit.
Although the lyrics on the majority of the disc are far from intelligible the first few times through, the message begins to stand out a bit more with multiple spins of "Guilty," "Angel," and "Evil Mind." The fact that the CD has lyrics printed in the booklet helps decipher the apparent ruckus. "Evil Mind" encourages listeners to abandon the many harmful things the world has to offer in order to live by the Truth: "There is one thing to blame/ It's the evil mind/ It is the evil of mankind/ It is our evil mind/ That makes us all blind/It makes us all so blind/ It makes the precious truth so hard to find."
Musically, the band totes a punk-tinged sound reminiscent of Black Flag while combining the more modern, hard-edged sounds of their label-mates Selfminded and Blindside. Unfortunately, they sound raw in comparison to the above examples on songs such as "Way Too Much, Way Too Sick" and "Gone," although both have lyrical substance. "Way Too Much, Way Too Sick" speaks of the danger and sinfulness of premarital sex, as well as the trap of pornography. "Gone" also stays on the theme of relationships and seems to express the pain one feels after the death of a loved one or the breakup of a romance.
Perhaps the most aggressive tone comes during "Fight the Racism," a topic often brought up in the mainstream alternative music community during tours such as "Ska Against Racism" and "Plea for Peace." By tackling this subject as well, Soapbox can throw into the mix the Christian perspective that all of God's creation should come together in unity. Soapbox has brought people together from all walks of life in Europe with their music and message, and it's just a matter of time before they do so here in America. With even more touring, the group is destined to tighten up and begin their ascent within the hardcore genre.