Morals and Mayhem – ‘Children of Fire’ (Album) by Oh, Sleeper

Key lines:

1)      Endseekers: “It’s so contrary to the promise that secured us and you’re nowhere to be found!”

2)      Shed Your Soul: “There’s no right or wrong, no king, no throne to defend, because we’re all that exists.”

3)      The Marriage of Steel and Skin: “There’s gonna be blood for the blood that you spilled.”

4)      Hush Yael: “We’re all weavers at the loom of slaughter, but we will rise and make these victims our martyrs.”

5)      The Conscience Speaks: “Will you please let it go?”

6)      Dealers of Fame: “The charge is on us, we are the dealers of fame.”

7)      Means to Believe: “Will you ever give me the means to believe? Answer me, please.”

8)      In the Wake of Pigs: “You are not alone in the eye of the darkest storm.”

9)      Claws of a God: “You’ll choke on the smoke that you breathe from your own code.”

10)  The Family Ruin: “I cut him down!” … “I keep feeding you the proof that you need but you spit it out to further your doubt.”

11)  Chewing the Stitch: “I’ve never felt so alive.”

12)  Children of Fire: “We are the children of fire. We are the lions.”

“Ignite the world and let it burn.”

I thought that it was about time that I wrote about one of my favourite albums. Oh, Sleeper are a band that have never been afraid to write songs about subjects that challenge Christians and non-Christians alike, and Children of Fire is no different. The album tells a story and each song fits into this story; if you took one song out of its place in the album, it would lose a large part of its meaning and significance. In summary, the album tells the story of the end of the world. It seems to humanity that God has withdrawn from Earth and has left humans to their own devices for the time being. Into the power void steps a priest, who sets himself up as a moral lawgiver and judge over humanity, reverting to the ‘eye for an eye’ justice system. The horror of his regime is shown in songs 3, 4 and 6 especially. This priest has an atheist daughter who sees his hypocrisy (“You’re standing for your God by becoming something so far off”) and starts her own search for truth. After the stirring ‘Means to Believe’, she finds a group of believers that haven’t lost their faith and learns from them. She grows to hate her father, and in ‘The Family Ruin’, a dialogue between her and God, she goes against God’s will and kills him. Despite this, God doesn’t let go of her and she comes to know him fully, letting him give her new life. The album ends with the triumphant ‘Children of Fire’ as God returns to the world for his faithful remnant before destroying the old world by fire, as the Bible says he will.

It’s a hard hitting album. Dark storyline aside, the issues of moral depravity and meaninglessness without God are tackled head on. In ‘Shed Your Soul’, lead vocalist Micah Kinard screams that ‘if all that remains is our avaricious wit, then an eye for an eye’s the only law that can exist’. This depravity is illustrated uncompromisingly in ‘Hush Yael’ and ‘Dealers of Fame’ which both describe true stories. ‘Hush Yael’ describes the story of a young girl who’s father and sister were shot dead and who was then suffocated by her mother so that her cries didn’t give them away when they were in hiding (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terror+Groups/Samir%20Kuntar), whilst ‘Dealers of Fame’ concerns the a string of horrific murders in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnepropetrovsk_maniacs) and the way that the murderers posted videos of their crimes on the internet. For me, these real life stories make those songs so much more lucid, and the cry for us to ‘rise for the helpless and fight for their justice’ becomes even more poignant.

The other side of the album is its illustration of an atheist girl coming to believe in God. ‘Means to Believe’ is a frank and open song that would probably resonate with a lot of people in the world, and songs like ‘In the Wake of Pigs’ and ‘Chewing the Stitch’ illustrate the renewed life and hope that can be found in faith. The dialogue between the girl and God in ‘The Family Ruin’ is intense, but God’s mercy shines through even in the face of death as he promises not to let the girl ‘slip away…this time’. I love the girl’s discovery of new life and the freedom that pours out in the song ‘Chewing the Stitch’; it’s a song of rebirth and victory, a fitting prelude to the finale, ‘Children of Fire’.

In this final song, God’s mercy and power come forth simultaneously. Shane Blay’s clean vocals are perfect for the comforting voice of God coming to the ears of the remnant as he finally brings about their justice. His words, ‘I see you, tattered and bruised. You’re the only ones who remained true,’ are full of compassion and mercy for those who have pulled through the dark and desperate times described elsewhere on the album. Also, it is important to remember that whilst this is a message of hope and mercy for the believers, it is a veiled warning to those who did not remain true, and the final call to ‘ignite the world and let it burn’ does not seem to bode well for them. There is also the contrast of the impact of God’s fire on the unbelievers and the believers: ‘The lot will feel pain as it singes their skin, but for you it will soothe.’ Finally, justice has come, the call in ‘Hush Yael’ has been answered in total completion.

Now I have to warn you, the music on this album is heavy rock without a doubt. In the first three songs there are barely any clean vocals at all. But, if you like this sort of music or if you can make an exception for one exceptional album, I really recommend giving this a listen in its entirety. This isn’t a review, as such, but if I was giving ‘Children of Fire’ a rating out of 5, it’d get a 5. If you don’t like this sort of music, search the lyrics or something, it’s easy enough to do. There is a valuable message in these words for all with ears to hear it.

Here are a few links if you liked this post:

Review of ‘Children of Fire’: http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/ChildrenofFire.asp

Hush Yael: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRrTXnh8NKI

In the Wake of Pigs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76BjSbTYcVQ

Children of Fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-AIn2qjP1A

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