When the time comes for a new year to begin its cycle, I always find myself reflecting on the previous one in order to decide my favorite musical albums that were released. Good music is a deeply moving experience for me and a lot of my favorite memories in life have their own soundtrack in my head because I relate them to a new album that I bought during that time or a show that I saw or anything else along those lines. Certain musical compilations bring out very different emotions in me when I listen to them because of the time in which I listened to them. So I love looking back and defining my year in terms of music and I thought I would post my favorite albums of this past year on the blog. Now I am not claiming that these are in any way the best overall albums, but simply my favorites. They spoke to a special place in my heart and helped me to keep my focus on the Purpose of this life in ways that few songs/albums have in the past. I will give my top three and then a few honorable mentions. Here we go:
1) RED – Innocence and Instinct
RED claims the top spot for my favorite albums of 2009. They have put together what I consider the ideal mix of music with melodically driven songs that march to heavy guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and just enough screaming to keep you awake and aware at all times. If I could choose any band to be in at this point in time, RED would be the one. The best way to describe this album is through its opening track, Fight Inside. The concept of the song (and the album) is to speak to the battle that is being fought within ourselves. For believers in Christ, this takes on a very profound meaning. Within each and every one of us there exists an instinctual lust for this world and what we can get out of it, but there is also a path of innocence which God has planned. The fight inside is simply the struggle between these two ways of existing and the song is a journey through that battle of recognizing our instinct, admitting that it is real and destructive, and taking steps away from it. The album ends with a song called “Forever” which is basically a praise to God thanking Him for being patient with our shortcomings and drawing us closer and closer to Him until we finally decided to give in to His will. I love this album so very much and cherish the Truths that exist within it. This life is a fight, but there is hope and that is what I find in Innocence and Instinct.
2) Oh, Sleeper – Son of the Morning
I have already written about this album once in detail here so I will not go into too much detail as it will be repetitive, but I would like to simply say that this album has some of the most incredible lyrics I have ever heard on any album – period. From beginning to end, Son of the Morning takes you through the challenges that face those who choose faith in Christ. Those challenges stem from the “Son of the Morning,” Satan himself. It is filled with confession and brokenness while also combatting both of those with hope and encouragement and ends with God claiming victory over the world. He will sing to the world Satan’s song is capturing. We will sing to a world reborn. We will sing as He cuts off the horns of evil.
3) Flyleaf – Memento Mori
“Memento Mori” is a Latin phrase meaning “remember you will die.” The idea for this album came from the historical stories about ancient emporers and kings who, after claiming victory in a military battle or conquering another nation, would have a servant with them at all times whispering this phrase in their ear to remind them that they are less than the gods and still mortal and very capable of death. At first glance, it seems like a depressing concept to an album, but on a deeper level it is a Truth that we have to learn to embrace if we are ever going to truly come alive in Christ. In short, Memento Mori is an album that spends its time reminding us of our mortality while encouraging the short time that we have on this earth to be spent in service to God’s purpose. The highlight of the album for me is the final track – Arise. It is an anthem of hope in response to the failure that we find in pursuing our purpose for our own sake. It talks about how there is still something worth fighting for in this world and there is something worth believing while we are here because we are not dead yet. God has given us a deep purpose that is to be pursued for His sake and in that we find true joy. The song finishes with a hauntingly beautiful line that I think describes the call God gives to His believers and the passions He has placed within us: “Arise and be all that you dreamed.”
30 Seconds to Mars – This is War
I will not claim that this albums offer much Truth. I have been listening to it for about a month now and it seems only to speak to the idea of self-empowerment and doing things on your own. There is a lot of faithlessness throughout the album that, though articulated well, does not work well in building up the heart. Musically however, the album is really pleasing. It has a crazy twist of techno with alternative rock and the frontman, Jared Leto, has an amazing voice. This album is worth the listen.
Project 86 – Picket Fence Cartel
Project 86’s vocalist, Andrews Schwab, has been a hero of mine for a long time. I always enjoy reading the lyrics he writes and I love what he put into this album. The opening track, Destroyer, is a great melody of victory to the evil of Satan and sets forth a great line of Truth to him and his wickedness: “Let go because in the end all you were was a pawn in the show.” This album is probably the most forthcoming and honest of the whole Project repertorie.
And these are two albums that I have found to be really enjoyable in 2009.
Mutemath – Armistice
Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey and the GrooGux King
Musically, 2009 was one of the best years I have had in a long time. The first three I mentioned had a profound impact on my life throughout the year and I am deeply thankful for their purpose. I do believe that God uses music to speak to people in very different ways and I know that my genre interests are not going to be agreeable with everyone else, but regardless of what you listen to you can appreciate the Truth behind these albums. Christ is the center of all things. He is the beginning and the end. In Him, there is no loss. Only victory. Bravo 2009 for your musical efforts. I cannot wait to see what is yet to come.
Happy New Year everyone!!