Seven years ago, three men from Georgia got together under the banner Awaken the Hero and released their debut, self-titled album. With a mission to help the Church stay focused on the prize, the heroes have been re-awakened for album number two. Louder Than My Doubt is a collection of uplifting and motivational songs that traverse the spectrum of contemporary pop without ever compromising their potential for popularity among fans of the genre; not that popularity is their goal, but they have the potential. Awaken the Hero seems heavily influenced by bands like Casting Crowns and MercyMe for the most part, but as the album progresses and the genre keeps changing, it's impossible to ultimately declare who they sound like. "I Will Follow" is Celtic pop, "Losing Weight (Moving Mountains)" is a country song with a kids' music melody, and "Life Goes Faster" boldly delves into Stellar Kart-esque pop punk. I even hear a little Petra in their single "Roar." The changes from song-to-song are pretty casual, for the most part, which really helps not to jolt the listener out of the groove, but it still feels like the band is most at home when they're playing contemporary pop. Indirectly correlating to the styles is the band's message; it's consistently uplifting without change. "Fail Better" encourages the listener to get up and try again regardless of any failed attempts, which also translates into "Roar," a song about the strength God gives us to stand up to the devil ("Lion of Judah, fill me with Your roar, lead us on to war, fill with me Your roar, 'cause we can't go on like we did before." There's also a wonderful reminder of what Jesus' sacrifice has done for mankind in "It Is Finished." Awaken the Hero reminds us that "The veil is torn top to bottom," that we're "condemned no more," and that "our Savior beckons us to boldly come." Louder Than My Doubt is a great listen for the contemporary pop fans out there. It's pretty diverse - maybe even a little unnecessarily so - but I was pleased to hear Awaken the Hero think slightly outside of the box. It's a good trend to set for others in the genre; hopefully this three-piece can have some influence on the scene.
- Review date: 5/3/16, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Jesus Freak Hideout (Scott Fryberger): For those who are new, can you give a brief description of the meaning behind your name?
David Meadows: I believe that the greatest mission field today is within the Church. We have been lulled to sleep with safe and warm messages of hope, love, and prosperity, often avoiding the reality of the spiritual battle raging all around us. Awaken the Hero embodies the concept of the Lion of Judah filling us with His “roar” (the Holy Spirit) and waking us up from our slumber to follow Him wherever He leads.
Dave Meadows: Our name reflects a need and a calling. There is a potential within each believer that is nothing less than God in us, empowering us, and we are on mission. Awaken the Hero is to allude to both the power within and the need for action.
Greg LaBrie: Our name relates to our mission scripture, Ephesians 5:14, to awaken the believer to the freedom we have in Jesus Christ and to live our life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
JFH (Scott): There were about seven years between Louder Than My Doubt and your last album. What were you guys up to in that time?
Dave: We each have gone through some major life events: marriage, babies, businesses, retirement, all the while maintaining a discipline of writing and arranging the songs on our sophomore album.
Greg: Life changes including two new children born, family member loss, building our new studio, songwriting, and self-funding our second project.
JFH (Scott): Did you go into the album wanting to make it so stylistically diverse, or did it just happen as you went?
David: I think it was organic. You never want all of your songs to sound the same, but we didn’t purposefully aim for diversity in sound. It was more like, we’d be rehearsing a song and one of us would say, "I can totally hear some bagpipes on this one," and then we’d try it and see if it fit. You’d be surprised to hear what some of the tracks sounded like earlier in the creative process.
Dave: There is always a desire to both improve and experiment. In addition our producer, Dave Bechtel offered some suggestions that shaped some of the diversity on this new album.
Greg: Both. We wanted to step out beyond the ballads featured in our first project and show an edgier side of the band, but also came up with some eclectic music in the process.
JFH (Scott): What are your top three bands/artists?
David: Michael W. Smith in his first decade or so was a big influencer on me, musically. Third Day, Jeremy Camp, and if we don’t stick with the Christian market, I’d have to admit to Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, and Lifehouse.
Dave: Third Day, Casting Crowns, and Big Daddy Weave.
Greg: Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Third Day.
JFH (Scott): How do you spend your free time these days?
David: I have two small children, so I have no free time, but traveling, reading, writing, and photography are some of my favorites.
Dave: Besides music, I enjoy my family, grilling and riding my motorcycle.
Greg: Family, travel, trying new music and recording gear, and concerts.
JFH (Scott): Has Awaken the Hero shared the stage with any notable artists?
David: None that you're likely to have heard of.
JFH (Scott): Which one song from Louder Than My Doubt would you recommend to a new listener?
David: "Someday." I think so many of us are yearning for what we’ve already been given, held back by the chains that we forge for ourselves, dreaming of and hoping for a future that is already here.
Dave: My personal favorite is "Someday." It speaks so well to some of my personal struggle to find freedom in Christ, and I feel it can help others to recognize that whoever the Son has set free, is free indeed.
Greg: "Roar" or "Brand New."
JFH (Scott): Have you been studying anything particular in the Bible recently?
David: Joshua. Be strong and courageous. Try. Fail. Try again. Get up. Move. Life is not safe, and God does not promise comfort and peace in this world. We are, whether we see it or not, engaged in a spiritual battle every day. Wake up. Stand up. Draw your sword...this lion's got a roar.
Dave: Colossians. Paul prays an incredible prayer in chapter one, praying for them/us to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord...he continues encouraging and reminding us of the power available to us and the great transfer from darkness to light. Praise be to God the Father.
Greg: Been in Romans 8 learning how the Trinity is engaged in our salvation and the importance of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The Father made the plan of salvation, the Son is the One who redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies us moving from grace to glory.
JFH (Scott): Anything else you'd like to add?
David: This is a collection of songs that are both personal and universal. Songs to remind me of things I need to remember, and things that I need to forget. I need to be willing to take chances and trust God for the outcome. My vision needs to exceed my own resources if I want to see miracles happen. Many times, I myself hold the chains that I feel bound by. I try to do everything on my own, I try to improve myself rather than following Him and allowing him to break me and make me brand new. I make excuses and wait for someone else to go first. Awaken the Hero is a call that goes out to us all to make the most of this life that He’s given us. To be found faithful, awake, and vigilant at His glorious return.
Dave: I came to the Lord at thirteen years of age. I sought through the Church to be and do all that I should as a Christian, but I constantly felt unworthy. I lived in a condemnation of my own making. I have a passion to bring fellow believers into a fullness of the truth that they may live in freedom. "It is for freedom that Christ set us free" (Galatians 5:1) and "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Embracing these truths gives confidence and boldness to be good stewards of the mysteries of God. Press on, and Godspeed.
Greg: We are engaged in this work as vessels with a pure motive to honor and glorify God with the gifts and talents He has given us. We go where He leads us recognizing it is not under our power but His and He will do with this work as He chooses.