Day 334 – #13. As Cities Burn – Come Now Sleep

As Cities Burn - Come Now Sleep Album Review

Today, I spent a super encouraging couple of hours talking to new friend John Brandon. He plays trumpet in the band San Fermin, who came to play at the Tiny Desk a couple of months ago.

We talked a lot about this project, which eventually got around to the topic of today’s album: As Cities Burn’s sophomore album Come Now Sleep. Released in 2007, it came two years after their monumental debut Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest.

It got me thinking about that time period again and the albums that came out then.

Showbread’s No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical.

Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line.

mewithoutYou’s Catch For Us the Foxes and Brother, Sister.

I’m still flabbergasted by the fact that so many seminal albums were released right around the same time period. Looking back, it’s an overwhelming abundance of wealth that won’t ever be matched again. In a way, it makes me pretty sad, too, because those were what we know them now as “the days.”

There’s a quote that I cannot attribute at this moment (because I cannot find it verbatim) that goes something to the effect of “I wish someone had told us what we were experiencing at a moment in time were the ‘good ole’ days.’”

It’s a tough pill to swallow to realize that those days are gone. In the period after SILYAYD was released, the band rose to the brim of Tooth & Nail’s burgeoning roster. But after a quick breakup announcement and then retraction, the group moved away from the sound that made Son what it was.

With Come Now Sleep, As Cities Burn shifted the vocal duties from lead singer/screamer TJ Bonnette to his brother, Cody, who was the back-up vocalist on Son. Throughout Come Now Sleep, Cody’s register is decidedly less screamy, calling on vocalists like Yoni Wolf and Aaron Weiss for that speak-singing at times. It’s not melodious or pretty – but it works. It retains some semblance of the post-hardcore madness that moved to the group to the forefront of “Best Tooth & Nail bands” conversations the world over.

As I was telling John, this record is one that’s personally very moving, because it calls into question the existence and purpose of God in our lives: who “He” is, and what “He” means or does.

When it was released, I was – and, to a certain extent, still am – questioning my own faith or lack thereof, and what some kind of supernatural entity did for me, or I for it.

That line of thinking is perfectly captured on a song like “Clouds,” which samples what seem to be random human being in the streets or, perhaps, friends of the band, or maybe somewhere in between. It’s an eye-opening and, at times, gratifying way to hear what other people perceive “God” to be. It still resonates with me, some 6 years later, in the same way it did when I got the CD.

More importantly though is the final track: the extraordinary “Timothy.” A tribute song written for Tim Jordan, a friend of As Cities Burn, and one who played keyboards and other instruments for The All-American Rejects, as well as Tooth & Nail/Solid State alums Jonezetta and Number One Fan, amongst others. He committed suicide some 5 months after the release of SILYAYD.

It’s one of the best songs to come out of the whole of the T&N/SS catalogue. Seriously. Out of all the 300+ albums and thousands of songs from the label since the 1990’s, “Timothy” is wholly unlike the rest of the band’s discography, clocking in at 12+ minutes long, with a massive instrumental nestled within the context of a song.

A heartbreaking tune, it’s one of the most striking songs I can think of regarding suicide. Worth your ears.

And though their final release Hell or High Water didn’t pull me in like this record and their debut, the legacy of As Cities Burn, for me, is a positive one. Their contributions to T&N/SS cannot be understated.

From Come Now Sleep, this is “Timothy” –

Standout tracks: “Contact,” “This Is It, This Is It,” “Clouds,” “Tides,” and “Timothy”
Weakest track: “Our World is Grey”

RIYL: Timothy Jordan II.



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