screamtheprayertour

Scream The Prayer is the tour every kid waits for each year. It’s the perfect tour that gives those who missed Cornerstone just a taste of how awesome that week just is. Scream The Prayer is now on its fourth leg, and this year’s line up is debatably the best ever! The bands that played this year were Sovereign Strength, As Hell Retreats, Texas In July, The Great Commission, I The Breather, Close Your Eyes, War of Ages, The Chariot, Sleeping Giant, and Norma Jean.

We [Nick and Matthew of This Moment in Hardcore] spent the day in Charlotte, NC at Amos Southend. Doors opened at 2 PM and the show started at 2:45 PM. There wasn’t a lot of people there at the opening of the show. We estimated about 250-300 people, but that didn’t matter to the bands or the fans already there. The energy was already high and the kids were ready to rock out! The anticipation of the show was well worth the wait.

The first band to take the stage was Sovereign Strength. This band is fairly new to the scene, so many people were unfamiliar with their music. Lead vocalist Jordan King entered the stage pumped and ready to rock! It took the band a few songs to get the crowd into them, but their effort paid off. Their passion was felt and by the end of the set there was a decent pit filled with kids kicking and punching the air. As fans of the genre we particularly didn’t enjoy their sent. We found their music very repetitive and lacking of any really memorable moments in the songs. Maybe it was because we were unfamiliar with their music, but when their set ended we did not feel like we needed to rush to their merch table and buy their album. Although it didn’t make an impression on us, it did on the rest of the kids. By the time the next band was on stage we spotted several “Go Hard In Da Pit- Sovereign Strength” shirts.

The second band to make their way on stage was Ain’t No Grave Records, As Hell Retreats. We were already unenthusiastic about this band. We were familiar with their two albums, Revival and Volition. We did not like either album. However, their live performance is much better then their studio. The band’s set was very tight and caused the crowd to get pumped for this young band. The audience seemed to enjoy them very much. We hope to see where they are in a few short years.

The next band to take the stage was supposed to be The Great Commission, but for whatever reason it changed to I, The Breather. We were both super excited to see them play. This was the first time Matthew had seen them, but Nick caught their act last year at Cornerstone Festival 20Ten. So anticipation was high for Matthew because of the high praise Nick already had for them. And he wasn’t lying! I, The Breather took the stage and made it their own! A pit opened as soon as the first note rang through the air. The crowd was ready to mosh. It was great to see the two guitarist Chase Kozlowski and Justin Huffman shred live. It was evident that these two guys knew how to rock their guitar. But just as fast as the band got onto stage, so it was the same when they left. Their set seemed really short, and we were very sad when it ended. We cannot wait to see them on another tour.

By this point at a show, almost all the bands would have already played, but not at Scream The Prayer. We are not even half way done! The next band was our good friends, The Great Commission. This band has just finished recording their second album, Heavy Worship, with Ain’t No Grave Records, which is an amazing album for those who love super heavy music. The band made a grand entrance by having the stage lights off and Justin Singh screaming, “Open this place up!” However, the band did not get the reaction it wanted because like Sovereign Strength, they are fairly new to the scene and lots of people don’t know them yet. Regardless of how the crowd responded to their opening song, Every Knee Shall Bow, by their third song the crowd was into them. Justin and Angela pulled off amazing gang vocals in several of their songs, and rocked everyones face off from their sometimes unpredictable breakdowns. The pit was huge by the end of their set, and it included yours truly. The Great Commission’s last song was going to be When it Rains, it Pours, but several people requested their cover song Came to My Rescue by worship band Hillsong United. The song truly brought the presence of the Holy Ghost into the venue. Almost everyone was singing the song and even after the band stopped played everyone continued to worship by singing a cappella. It was truly moving.

The fifth band to play was Texas in July from Lancaster, PA; home of August Burns Red. This band seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in popularity, but we cannot understand why. This band had to be the biggest snooze fest of all the bands that played. Each song sounded the same, was very predictable, had way too many breakdowns, and their stage presence seemed amateurish. Also, lead vocalist Alex Good only said about two things to the crowd. While their set seemed to last forever, they actually only played four songs and then exited stage left to never be seen again. We could be wrong, but we didn’t see them at their merch table to greet their fans, which seemed very odd to us.

After Texas in July played their set we noticed the audience had grown a little bit. We were excited to have more people come in to help us rock out with the bands. Close Your Eyes was next and they were probably the band with the biggest name recognition because they have been on several big name tours including Van’s Warped Tour. This band also was a little change in style. They are more on the lines of pop-punk/hardcore, while the other bands are more metalcore. The energy from the crowd was very high. When the band finally took stage everyone cheered. The band performed a tight set proving their musicianship. The bands poppy sound sprinkled with screams and breakdowns made us smile. It was very fun to hear them play songs like Song for the Broken and Digging Graves. Shane Raymond and Brett Callawa’s singing and vocals were just as good live as they are on album. Let’s also not forget their awesome drummer Tim Friesen! After their set we chatted with the band and they gave us a little inside knowledge and told us they are back in the studio working on a third album and headlining a tour in the spring in support of the album.

Next, one of the most popular bands in the hardcore scene today, The Chariot, took stage. Every time The Chariot plays you can expect something new and exciting. Their energy on stage was incredible. Josh Scogin stood on drummer David Kennedy’s set and screamed. During the song Daggers, bassist Wolf jumped off stage and rocked his way up the second floor and continued to play till the song was done! Once their amazing set was over Wolf was still high energy and told the audience, “This is nothing! This is nothing!” We think he meant this show here means nothing compared to the price Christ paid for us on the cross.

While we waited for War of Ages to start their show we took time to walk around and check out all the merchandise the bands were selling. All the bands shirts were awesome. We were especially big fans of War of Ages’ new design that featured the beast from Lord of the Rings called Balrog. We always love their designs because they are so metal! It was just a shame we didn’t have enough money to buy everything.

War of Ages is one of our favorite bands to see live. Each time we see them perform it’s a blast. You can tell these dudes are having so much fun shredding it up on stage. Lead vocalist Leroy Hemp always has a big smile on his face. It was great to hear all their classics and some new favorites off their latest album, Eternal. After their show we chatted with Leroy about future stuff and was told that he has a new album in the works. Of course, he wasn’t sure if he was going to have any big name special guests like he had on his last album. I guess we all will just have to wait and see!

Everyone seemed to be there for Sleeping Giant because once they had finished their set up and took stage the place erupted into a loud cheer. Much louder than the other bands had received thus far. Before they played lead vocalist Tom Green dedicated their set the the Lord and prayed for the people there. Each song they played, new and old, was a full throttle heavy worship for God. It makes you think, “Gee, why can’t my church worship be like this?” After about three powerful songs where played the band stopped played and Tom again prayed, but this time he had all the believers raise their hands high and pray for those were there and not believers, and he felt a evil spirit in the room and prayed that it would be bound in the name of Jesus Christ. He then told us about a ministry he and his wife head up called Revolution Reality. [Check it out at revolutionreality.com] The ministry is a great way to reach out to those who are left outside of the church. After Sleeping Giant finished their show the crowd chanted for one more song. So Tom came out and instead of playing one more song witnessed to the audience. It’s bands like Sleeping Giant that make me proud to be apart of this scene. They are changing it in amazing ways with the power of the Gospel! We had the chance to talk to him after their set and ask how we could help their ministry thrive. He responded, “Prayer. We’re out of Salt Lake City which is a pretty sketchy place to be. We obviously need money to build the ministry so buy some merch!”

After a long day of dancing and getting our faces rocked off by all the other bands, Norma Jean finally took stage. Their set up and sound check seemed to take forever. We knew it was going to be an amazing show because of all their set pieces they had like a giant screen behind the drums, strobe lights, and a smoke machine. The lights shut off and everyone’s eyes were drawn to the screen behind them that were painted with images of bugs, burning typewriters, nurses with syringes, and shattering TV’s. The images seemed to be a collection of scenes used from their music videos. If you have seen a Norma Jean music video then you probably can imagine how creepy this video was. On stage left there was a box that read NORMA and stage right that read JEAN.  Once the intro video was complete the screen went blank and the Norma Jean boxes lit up and the band walked on stage and grabbed their instruments. Boy, was the wait worth it. Matthew has followed Norma Jean for the past ten years, since their first album Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child, and has seen them multiple times. He says this was probably the best show he has seen them play in many years. The band played about 45 minutes and picked songs from each of their albums. Norma Jean even played a song they said has never been played live until this tour. They played the song Disconnecktie off their second album O’ God, The Aftermath. Lead vocalist Cory Brandon even played guitar for this song and explained how this is an emotional song for him and means a lot to his relationship with Jesus Christ. The band ended with their song Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste. Unfortunately, after they played, just like The Chariot, they split really quickly and was headed to the next show, which was their home town of Duglasville, GA. So we were unable to talk with the band.

This was the most fun we had at a Scream The prayer show yet! We had lots of fun meeting new bands, and seeing old friends in others. Also, it was good to see the North Carolina curse for Scream The Prayer had been lifted! Each year something bad or negative seems to befall on a random band here in North Carolina. With Impending Doom being beaten up and sent to the hospital, The Chariot’s trailer braking down, or Andy from A Plea For Purging not being able to show up; this year it did not happen. In fact we are sure it was God blessing us and the bands! We want to thank all the bands for their hard work and continued message of hope of salvation through Jesus Christ that they preach. We love you all and cannot wait to see you again on another tour!