I’m quite distracted today, on what I will refer to as “Arrested Development Eve.” But, I’ll power through because never miss a shift and such.
So because A Plea for Purging’s third album The Marriage of Heaven and Hell appears on this year’s list as the second Plea record I’ll be talking about, I get to talk about their final releases in reverse chronological order.
Which, if one were to try to analyze about the band’s progress or regression, the most glaring observation would be the general and growing sense of pent-up anger and frustration. I mean, obviously anger is inherent in loud music like this.
But what’s most ironic about the band’s deepening resentment is the fact that, in terms of their musicality, Plea were able to express their dissatisfaction with the economics of Christianity in softer, more ‘refined’ (read: not just yelling all the time) acoustic ways.
As I wrote when I talked about The Life and Death of A Plea for Purging, guitarist Blake Martin stole the show, with something of a stripped down mini-EP hidden amongst the carnage. Martin got his start toward that style of music on this album. Now that the book has been written, “The Jealous Wings” will stand as one of the most complete Plea songs ever. It brings both the aggressive heavy end as well as the acoustic, “man at the mic” approach.
Thematically, Marriage (so-named for the book by English poet William Blake) is caustic and straight to the point on the state of Christianity’s politics. The album is book-ended by clips of, presumably, a prosperity gospel preacher, extolling the value of “caaaaaaash” here on earth.
Because I come from sort of the same background as Plea – grew up in ignorant southern towns, always surrounded by lots of Baptists and ‘spirit-filled’ “Christ followers” who turned out to be some of the most vile, hateful, hypocritical people I’ve ever met, jaded by the “charismatics” and Holy Rollers – I feel a certain kindred spirit to Andy Atkins’ lyrics throughout Marriage.
It’s a tense and uncomfortable connection, and one that has left me questioning a lot of what I believe. And while I realize having doubts isn’t always a bad thing, the best I can say is that I’ve yet to have a good, lasting experience at any of the churches that I’ve attended. I should specify that they’re all American churches, so who’s to say that there isn’t one out there that I haven’t tried out of the south that doesn’t spew vitriol.
I think that’s a lot of what influenced the writing on this record. On “Sick Silent America,” Atkins says:
We are the new free-thinkers.
My father gave me a brain.
My mother taught me to use it.
So swallow back all the vomit that you’re spewing.
And later on “Trembling Hands,” his most blatant direction yet:
Question everyone, Question everything, and trust no one.
Everyone has a motive.
None of which are pure.
There are vipers.
They are liars.
The album does end on a good note, though. After the album’s false prophet wraps up his hate speech, the voice of reason returns:
Your judgment is coming.
Trust not in man. Trust in God.
Whatever you may believe, I will say this: it’s not fair to judge a religion based on the people in power. Gandhi’s “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians” has become a nauseating axiom on every youth group leader’s Facebook quote section. In spite of its ubiquitous nature, the truth in it holds fast.
If you’re going to be disapproving of a religion, do so because of the religion itself – not because of its purported followers.
From The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, this is “The Fall” –
Standout tracks: “Sick Silent America” and “Finite”
Weakest track: Because of its breadth at just 10 tracks, I don’t think I could name one “weak” track. It’s concentrated fury, with no filler.
RIYL: Metal, hardcore, metalcore, hardcore punk, spirit-filled hardcore. For Today, Hundredth, Hands, In the Midst of Lions, that kind of thing.