Let’s get something straight early on – the Texas-based Lion of Judah knows what they’re about from an ideological standpoint. They are a Christian hardcore band, and it’s not just because of their name, as their lyrics are almost solely based on the Christian life.
But knowing your own beliefs doesn’t automatically translate into beautiful, memorable art. Although their lyrics are very sincere, they lack a poetic flare that many other metal and hardcore bands have, and it ends up coming across as cliché.
There are several interesting examples, however, which include allusions to Biblical parables (“Free me from this barren land I’m planted among, take me from this dying valley plant me in the fertile soil,” from “Catacombs”) and complex theological thoughts (“Not all who cry ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom; I never knew you,” from “Reclamation”).
More frustrating than any qualms with lyrics is the music. They define themselves as hardcore, and while that is certainly the case in some of their songs (especially “Catacombs” and “Messiah”), in the end, they often slip into a generic metalcore sound, with all the chugging, bass drops and heavy distortion.
Their first four songs (out of five) feature heavy vocals over plenty of distorted, basic riffs. While there isn’t anything unprofessional or cheap about it, there isn’t anything memorable.
The fifth song, “Messiah,” starts off promising with soft guitar picking and slow, hardcore vocals, but it’s laced with an unnatural echo (similar to Hundredth’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”). It takes away the natural hardcore essence. There are other examples of overediting (or overthinking), with electronic, unnatural staccato riffs, an obnoxious fad in metalcore (something The Devil Wears Prada, Issues and For Today have helped popularize).
This isn’t a poor album, and the guys of Lion of Judah certainly put a lot of heart into their music and put out a professional-sounding product. Metalcore and hardcore have been around for a while now, and originality is the key for metalcore’s future, and that is often where Lion of Judah falls short with their latest EP.