By Dan Matheson
Becoming The Archetype Dichotomy (Solid State 2009)
1. Mountain Of Souls (The Ghost)
2. Dichotomy (The Tower)
3. Artificial Immortality (The Beast)
4. Self-Existent (The Tomb)
5. St. Anne’s Lullaby (The Sage)
6. Ransom (The Serpent)
7. Evil Unseen (The Root)
8. How Great Thou Art (The Hymn
9. Deep Heaven (The Awakening)
10. The End Of The Age (The Lion)
The band Stryper carried the torch of Christian heavy metal through the early eighties, and were partially responsible for the increase in Christian metal bands. After them, the Australian band Mortification brought Christian values and doctrine into the extreme metal arena of the nineties. They brought the Armour Of God to the stage in a blistering metal format, as did the thrash metal band Believer a couple years earlier.
Jayson Sherlocke, the drummer of Mortification, turned the black metal scene on its head when he released his Horde side project to bring positive outlooks and Christian morals to a genre rooted in hatred. These groundbreaking bands have bucked trends to bring the Word of God to a whole new audience and paved the way for future Christian metal heads.
The latest of this new generation of Christian metal bands are the Atlanta-based group Becoming The Archetype, whose third album Dichotomy was released late in 2008; and I must confess it’s been played continuously on my Ipod. I’ve been a fan of the band since their full-length debut Terminate Damnation. Becoming The Archetype play a mix of melodic death metal and metalcore with progressive tendencies. They are a little like label mates Demon Hunter and have similar keyboard atmospherics styling to Aletheian.
On Dichotomy the band drifts from their metalcore tendencies and makes a move towards melodic death metal and progressive stylings. The songs are equally brutal and melodic. With crushing riffs and soaring melodies, the band powers through ten tracks of Spirit-filled adrenaline.
The album opens with the oppressive, guitar-driven “Mountain Of Souls,” which establishes their style right up front with haunting keyboards and effects, pummeling riffs and guttural vocals. The soaring clean vocals remind us that their metalcore roots are not forgotten.
The piano interlude on the opening track is moving and brings heart and variance to the song. The title track “Dichotomy”, “Self Existent” and “Deep Heaven” follow suit mixing heavy guitars and passionate keyboard interludes. “Deep Heaven” features some female vocal melodies and a heavy progressive influence.
“Artificial Immortality”, “Ransom,” and “Evil Unseen” are fine examples of straightforward heavy tunes that are fast and melodic and equally moving with nice use of keyboards.
Lyrically, Becoming The Archetype is bold with Christian heavy themes. That’s one of the things that have kept me a longtime fan. The messages are clear and not cryptic like the lyrics of Norma Jean and newer Underoath. A fine example of this is on their song “How Great Thou Art,” which is a modern day hymn to the Almighty, his Son and all that he has created. The lyrics are not of the turn or burn variety often associated with heavier Christian bands, but more thought-provoking and encouraging. They’ve found the glory of God and want to tell everybody about it … in a super heavy, fist-pounding way.
As a metal head myself, I found it hard balancing my beliefs with this aggressive style of music. When I first read about Believer over a decade ago, I discovered a whole other side to metal music and the messages it can deliver. And it’s bands like Becoming The Archetype who keep fueling faith-based heavy metal and providing people like myself with honest, Spirit-filled music while satisfying my love of heavy music.
A match made in Heaven? I think so.
Dan is an avid music lover and a metalhead at heart. Dan is Canadian and brother to fellow reviewer Jody. In his spare time from his Marketing &Sales job, he blogs about his extensive CD collection.