It's been a long, hectic ride for As Cities Burn. When lead vocalist T.J. Bonnette decided to part ways with the band last year, it was announced that As Cities Burn would be no more. However, a very strong public outcry prompted them to change their minds, and it wasn't long before they announced they would continue onward, with T.J.'s brother and As Cities Burn guitarist, Cody, taking over vocal duties. The result is their sophomore record, Come Now Sleep.
While the passionate scream-driven songs are long gone, the passion inherent in As Cities Burn's music is still here. Cody Bonnette does a fine job of taking over vocal responsibilities, but the resulting record is much different than Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest. The album feels a lot more experimental, and isn't quite as driven, taking its time on several occasions (The first track is nearly seven minutes long, and the last is nearly thirteen). Come Now Sleep is no less intense than its predecessor however, which is a testament to the musical integrity of these guys, considering the decreased number of screams from one album to the next. Come Now Sleep also intensifies the melodic sense that Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest subtly, but surely contained, with choruses that read like anthems to be chanted and repeated over and over again.
The lyrical and spiritual honesty As Cities Burn is known for is still here, as well. Fittingly, it takes a different form as well. It's apparent that these songs were penned by a different hand than the words of Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest. The lyrical form resembles that of "The Widow" more so than, say, "Wake, Dead Man, Wake." That is to say, they are more personable, rather than straight out of Scripture. This is a statement I am reluctant to make, however, because to this day, I still discover verses in the Bible that double as As Cities Burn lyrics. But in a general sense, for the most part, we're saying goodbye to gems-of-lyrics like "What is love without trust? At My Word, would you bring your Isaac?." But it makes way for a different kind of spiritual honesty, the kind that makes statements such as "Is your love really love? Is my love really love? I think our love isn't love unless it's love to the end. Is your god really God? Is my god really God? I think that god isn't God if he fits inside our heads" ("Clouds"). Honestly, I'm fairly hesitant to say much of anything final about the lyrical content of Come Now Sleep because, in the same way that Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest rewarded you with repeated listens, Come Now Sleep deepens in meaning and substance with each and every listen.
Given the monumental record that their debut was, it is nearly impossible to review their new one objectively without constantly cross-referencing and comparing the two. But Come Now Sleep is such a radically different record, that it begs for such an opportunity. This is still very much As Cities Burn (If anyone on Tooth & Nail or any of its various staples can claim a guitar style that is uniquely their own, it's these guys), but it is a new As Cities Burn. The loss of T.J. is felt heavily, but it opens the door for something new and exciting. Purists might have some trouble buying into this record, but all possible gripes and complaints stemming from the initial shock that follows the first listen to "Contact" should eventually disappear. Like the rest of the record that follows, it's different, but it's lush, unpredictable, and ultimately beautiful.- Review: 8/12/07, PReviewed: 6/12/07, written by Josh Taylor of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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