- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Sep
- Here Is the News
- When You Burn Too Fast
- Through Depths of Twilight
- Hero's Homecoming
- Fields of the Fallen
- Always Just Beneath the Dawn
- Fortress of Solitude
- Blessed Are the Land Mines
- Begin Again
- These Frail Hands
You've gotta hand it to bandmates Reese Roper, Dennis Culp, Keith Hoerig, and Andrew Verdecchio. With the end of Five Iron Frenzy in 2004, the odds of them following through with the final chapter of their Brave Saint Saturn trilogy grew increasingly slim with each passing year. Yet eight years after So Far from Home and five since The Light of Things Hoped For … , they've kept their promise and finally returned to their side project.
It should be noted again with Anti-Meridian that while the Brave Saint Saturn albums do follow a story, they're not really concept albums or rock operas. There are elements of storytelling in the spoken word interludes and certain songs. Plus, the Apollo 13 styled tale is loosely outlined in the liner notes: After the astronauts become lost in space and then rescued during the first two albums, Anti-Meridian touches on the return home and the aftermath. Otherwise, the songs and story are only loosely connected, metaphorically representing themes of life, loss, loneliness, and the far-reaching love of God.
"When You Burn Too Fast" darkly expresses fear and regret, but leads to hope in "Through Depths of Twilight" and rejoicing in "Hero's Homecoming" before reflecting on grace and second chances in "Begin Again." But as usual with both FIF and BS2 albums, my favorites come at the end with the anthemic expressions of thankfulness and praise to "the Light of the World," demonstrated here with "These Frail Hands" and "Invictus."
The songs also daringly cover a broad range of everyday Christian subjects concerning the Church's role in the world. "Starling" uses a childhood story about shooting birds with BB guns to illustrate how Christians sometimes hurt the ones they're trying to save, while "Underground" touches on the need for churches to step outside corporate comfort to meet the needs of others in the world. As with Derek Webb's songwriting, Roper and company intend to challenge us with love and respect, not anger and cynicism. Unfortunately, their intent is not always easily understood, "Fortress of Solitude" being the worst offender with its weird sonic palette and messy Superman imagery.
Since the band isn't tied to a particular style like Five Iron's ska or Roper's punk, BS2 demonstrates more musical range with their alternative pop/rock, with flashes of David Bowie, Radiohead, Mogwai, and even Electric Light Orchestra (opening this album with a cover of "Here Is the News"). Though it's not consistently excellent, which isn't surprising for a 72-minute album, at least Anti-Meridian offers something interesting worth digging into as Brave Saint Saturn continues to boldly go where few Christian artists have gone before.
(The CD is only available at www.bravesaintsaturn.com, but the album is also available for download through iTunes and Amazon.)