When you think of Christian music, the name Trent Reznor doesn't usually pop into your head. However, it's no secret that Trent and his experimental music project, Nine Inch Nails, is one of the biggest influences for Josh Dies and his band, Showbread. While older Showbread only had hints of NIN, shades of the mainstream nu-metal act can be heard all throughout the new double disc odyssey, Anorexia Nervosa. The first half of the set, Anorexia, is more like NIN than Nervosa is, with lots of electronic sounds and eerie vocals, but it still has a lot of the aspects that drew people to Showbread in the first place.
An important thing to remember about the lyrics for both albums is that they are meant to go along with the story portion of the package. If you read just the lyrics, and had no knowledge of the stories or what they were about, you might question the band a little or be concerned for where they are in their relationships with Jesus - Not necessarily lyrics like in "The Sky Alpha," which is sung from Jesus' perspective ("But here I am, I say to you, though you turn away it is My will to love you for forevermore, peace be still, peace be still"). Rather, lyrics such as "My will is everything, my will be done" in "The Goat," or "Where is the light that I thought I was promised? Where is the truth, and the hope, and the way?...Is all there is just nothing at all? Is there anything that matters?") from "The End." What may seem like cries of despair from Josh and the other Showbread guys are actually just lyrics written as the soundtrack to the story of the girl Anorexia, the main character for the first half of the project. It's almost as if the guys had no desire whatsoever for the story and album to be separated at all.
The story of Anorexia is a good read, even by itself really, though without the music, it's a quick read and you don't really get the full effect. And to ensure that you are reading along at the right times, there are minute and second markers in front of each section of each chapter, and they indicate the approximate point of the song at which you should start reading that section. Sometimes you have to read fast, but most of the time you have plenty of time to read before hitting the next time marker. On occasion, there will be a lot of listening involved before getting to the next section of the chapter. In one instance, there is about a minute and a half of listening. It gets a little aggravating sometimes, as it may be a little difficult to keep the imagery of the story in your head, but thankfully this doesn't occur all too often on Anorexia.
The story revolves around a young girl named Anorexia, who one day decides to devote her life to building a huge tower in order to reach the sky. "To reach the glory of the sky, surely this is the greatest honor that there is to know. I will build a tower in order to propel myself miles above and beyond this horrible planet earth. I will be revered for this good work and the people down below will look to my tower, no longer seeing me, as I will have vanished into the clouds. This will be my life's work, with this deed I will discover the secret of fulfillment." During her increasingly tiresome labor, she is met by several different animals, who question, attack, or try to deceive her. After building and building, she finds that her work is for nothing, and has no choice but to give up. It's not quite the end there, but I just can't find it in myself to say anything about how it does end. It's a simply beautiful ending, and if you really get yourself involved in the story, and you let the music in the background move you, it will bring a tear or two to your eye.
Though the story/album combination is pretty much a necessity, I know there are still those who just want to jam out to the new Showbread album. Again, though the lyrics might be a little odd when they stand alone, if you can get past that, it's a solid album to rock out to. From the creepy child's laughter and xylophone at the very beginning, to the Project 86-esque guitar riffs of "The Sky" and the harsh screams from Showbread veteran Ivory Mobley in "The End," straight into the peaceful piano ending of "The Beginning," it's Showbread at some of its finest. Although, without the stories, some of the instrumentals just might not work out for you. However, it's still a project (and band) worth investing in.- Review date: 5/8/08, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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