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Take Everything

  • reviewed by Jeremy V. Jones Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2009 1 Mar
Take Everything
Sounds like … alt-metal radio rock such as Daughtry, Kutless, or milder 3 Doors Down and Nickelback.At a glance … a commercially polished but creatively flat collection of worship remakes with crunchier guitars.Track ListingHow Great Is Our GodSurrenderLead Me to the CrossEverlasting GodMighty to SaveFrom the Inside OutI Can Only ImagineTake EverythingCarry MeFamous OneNothing But the BloodOceans From the Rain

Since its label debut in 2004, Seventh Day Slumber has been a band of great potential with its gruff rock leanings, unflinching spiritual lyrics, and a willingness to address real pain and problems. So it's no surprise that the band brought lofty goals to its third major release, a worship album. "We wanted to come up with something really interesting, taking the same lyrics and basically the same melodies, but putting a completely different spin on them," lead singer Joseph Rojas says.

Despite its aspirations, the band falls short. Take Everything lacks creativity and ends up as a largely forgettable, sound-a-like collection of well-worn remakes.

There's no questioning Seventh Day Slumber's sincerity. If you've seen the band live, you know Rojas doesn't shy away from honest talk about his own struggles—especially with depression and a past cocaine addiction—and about Christ's hope and healing. And you've probably heard them work some of these songs into a set with truly worshipful attitudes.

But what might work live doesn't always translate to the recording studio. The work is technically sound with some clear bright spots, but they only serve as flashes of what could have been. In fact, what's wrong with any one song is wrong with the entire album. For instance, "How Great Is Our God" begins with towering strings that call to mind Red or Evanescence but they then disappear completely into an acoustic guitar accompaniment of the verse. "Mighty to Save" follows a similar yet sonically tamer path. The collective result is formulaic: take a Passion hit, add crunchier guitars, gruffer vocals, and an occasionally meatier guitar solo. It's as if the power-rock riffs are cut and pasted in and out around the lyrics.

Part of the problem lies in the song selection. Most of these tracks, like "Famous One" and "Everlasting God," have received heavy—read overplayed—radio exposure. They've been performed and sung countless times in churches and conferences and various gatherings by millions. Each time played, they are given their own treatment by everyone from amateurs to skilled house bands and professionals. Because of that, Seventh Day Slumber's take is nothing new.

Fans may like this project. The standout song "Surrender" should satisfy because it sustains its strong, raucous nu-metal guitar hook and packs an 80s-esque solo. But even the most faithful won't tolerate the album's low point: a monotonous rendition of "I Can Only Imagine."

Expect to hear one of the two original tracks, "Take Everything" or "Carry Me," on heavy radio play. Take your pick; they sound nearly identical: midtempo worship ballads with vocals that channel Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish) and address themes of surrender and release. Again, the problems with these songs are symptomatic of the whole: technically adequate, sincere yet general, formulaic and creatively bland.

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