A few days ago I hurried of a quick post alerting my readers to a free full album listening party for Downhere's latest release On the Altar of Love. A lot of my readers may be unfamiliar with this band. First of all, their Canadian. They are not a new band, starting back in 1999, and in that time they have put out ten albums. If you catch them on tour it must be a rarity because I think they must live in the studio.
Anyway, I came to a more than a casual knowledge of the Band back in 2009, of at all times Christmas. Most people don't usually think of a Christmas Album as being a resume builder, but How Many Kings is probably responsible for the great majority of us here in the States knowing about the band, and it we learned about the non-holiday stuff afterward.
Last Summer a few fortunate folks, your favorite blogger included, got to see Downhere (sort of) Live in Canada. Billy Graham Ministries held an event called Rock The River, and those who knew about it (From the U.S.A.) were able to watch it Live on the Web for free. This year it seems to be in Fort Smith, AR. This show will be for the Rocker, with P.O.D. and Children 18:3 among the acts. No word yet on a web stream.
On to the album. The Album's opening track, Only The Beginning, which is an encouragement for the newly saved, could also be a metaphor for the fortunes of the band. The album is more orchestrated and string laden than the typical Downhere album, but from my perspective this is a good thing. If you've been reading The Night Beat for any length of time, you know that I am a sucker for strings and synthesizers. Christian Music needs more of both.
The album consists of soaring anthems with lots of strings. If you were looking for some rock songs like "My Last Amen", which Martel has been known to describe as "A Happy Little Song About Death", you will be disappointed. This album really builds on How Many Kings. If I have any complaints about this album, it is that Martel's voice (and in a self-deprecating manner he says he sounds like a girl) gets drowned out in a lot of songs. This is a production problem and not related to the songs. Anybody's microphone can be adjusted to insure they can be heard above the music. The Banjo picking on Seek is pretty good.
Despite the minor mix problem, I am giving On The Altar of Love a final score of 4.5 Emeralds. This should bring in a load of new fans, and still manage to keep the old ones satisfied. Don't let the cover photo scare you away. Downhere may say thank you For The Heartbreak, but even they know that they are Living The Dream.
Night Beat Bonus: Not every album can impress here at The Night Beat, and that's a good thing. If every album impressed me, the Platinum Vinyl Awards would be a joke (my Critics think they still are). Aaron Shust This is What we Believe releases tomorrow, and has been the subject of a Listening Party since last Tuesday at New Release Tuesday. It's a praise and worship album, and to a degree so is On The Altar of Love (reviewed above), but it just has that sameness feel. Good but Not Good enough gets it a rating of 3.75 Emeralds. No Platinum Vinyl Award for Aaron this year.
You get a two-fer this time around. Soon I will make an announcement regarding the second Platinum Vinyl Awards. As a teaser, let's just say I am considering expanding the judging pool. As always, I am Awaiting Your Reply.