Artist: Disciple
Album: O God Save Us All
Label: Fair Trade Services

What’s in a name?

In the case of Disciple’s newest CD, an unfortunate appeal to a theological impossibility.

As a plea, their album’s title sounds like a prayer for universal salvation: O God Save Us All. In a perfect world, of course, it’s a nice thought. But let’s fact it:  this world isn’t perfect, and God has told us that not everybody is going to be saved.

So if CD titles mean anything to you, O God Save Us All is off to a hollow start.

The ninth release from this popular alternative metal Christian band features a robust and technically refined menu of radio-ready songs that, for better or worse, convey more digital precision than a human being’s musical aptitude. Good music shouldn’t be sloppy, of course, and hard rock is definitely technology-driven, but glimpses of a more organic rhythm could dilute the album’s aural artificiality.

True to its genre, O God Save Us All consistently relies on dramatic percussion, while the song “Once and For All” integrates almost poignant interludes of cello and violin. This album’s dark and moody riffs have been fairly well received by the industry’s insiders, and Disciple’s hard-core fans will likely find much to like in it, even if – or, perhaps, because – it sounds ubiquitous in its melancholic aesthetics.

Song by song, its lyrics tend to revolve around the same theme of rebellion juxtaposed with a greater grace. That’s not exactly a criticism, of course, since the Gospel is replete with such tableaux. Nevertheless, what does it say about a band whose musical artistry explores the Gospel from what becomes one long song comprised of 11 identical verses? With the exception of “Once and For All,” both lyrics and sound stay almost entirely the same throughout the CD, and while that may be just fine with its fans, is that the hallmark of originality? The band itself has been constantly evolving over the years, and only one original member, Kevin Young, remains; yet even this turnover can’t explain such pre-packaged sound.

And then there’s “Trade a Moment,” which will likely make many Christian parents shudder. It’s a love song mixing confusing messages about unrealistic infatuation and evangelism dating, almost certainly designed to appeal to kids who are dealing with teenaged angst over being unequally yoked.

There’s a fine line between relating to people and enabling them. Indeed, Disciple’s product may enjoy a certain status within the Contemporary Christian Music industry, but giving the audience what it thinks it wants can sometimes be counterproductive.

*This Review First Published 2/1/2013