Fearless and Unapologetic.
Bold and confrontational.
Completely hopeful against a backdrop of desperate hopelessness.
These are just a few of the phrases that apply to Advent's Naked and Cold, the band's sophomore release on Solid State Records. But perhaps the most accurate phrase for this new release is double-edged.
Because this record will cut you deep:
... I stand against blind allegiance to a nation that kills its children. To a nation that profits in death.
... We are the voice of a broken generation. Kicked out and beaten down. Religions all have failed us now. Retaliating against the old with this bitter taste in our mouths. Left alone, Naked and Cold.
"The story behind the album title isn't much of a story at all. It's more of a feeling," explains bassist Johnny Smrdel. "I think as we've gotten older we've become more aware and affected by this world we live in. We're in a time where death, hopelessness, disease, and hate are what's normal. I think Naked and Cold sums up the feeling we all have on this world that rejects truth, love, and hope."
The first thing you notice when you hear the opening track, "Nothing", is the absolute rawness of both the sound and the emotion. It's not only heavy, but it is unsettling. And the most disturbing element of the sonics may just be that they are also (gasp!) real. Ditto for the rage in the voice behind the words. All you know is that you hearing hardcore as it was meant to sound - with honesty seeping from every pore of every facet of the music.
"We really wanted to capture a "live" sound with this record," Smrdel comments. "We kind of feel like the norm is to have fake drums and everything pitched perfected so you can get on the radio or MTV. We wanted a sound that was us - dirty, angry, and in your face. To us the sound needed to match the feel of what Joe is saying lyrically."
The choke-hold that is Naked and Cold does not relent throughout its thirteen tracks. But this is not just blast beats and breakdowns. As the record traverses through varied tempo and structure, from the speedy track "Overcome" to the stompy title track to the sludgy "Fatherless." This is a hardcore record that shines among its peers, as it has something that the others don't - dynamics.
"We aren't trying to be down-tuned and heavy just to be cool. We definitely believe in writing good songs and being able to play our instruments, unlike the fashion today. We want people to be intrigued by the music to look into the lyrics and the message, not hit people over the head with our beliefs first."
But once they hook you, the Advent boys set their barbs deep as you squirm to be released. As promised, front-man Joe Musten is not one to mince words, as he speaks in no unclear terms. On "Out of Line," he confronts our nation and its leaders: The American way. I pray to God, this lie will have nothing to do with me. The American way. The lie of the century. And on "With Anger," Musten rebukes the endless parade of trendy heavy bands today: State your values. State your case. State your purpose. We just want to hear you say you're fake. We scream with anger but not from hate. We scream with passion but not for fame. We scream resistance to see a change. But amidst all of this confrontation, the band is, at its core, spirit-filled. On focal tracks like, "Overcome", hope prevails, even amidst this naked and cold world:
I am not ashamed
To live is Christ, to die is surely gain
Overcome this worthless sense of grief
Stare death in the face
I am not afraid...
We will stare death in the face
The band has shared the stage with everyone from UnderÃ¸ath to Living Sacrifice to Shai Halud to The Carrier, and anyone who has had a brush with the band knows they are true to what they stand for to the core. Live, they are not just a whirlwind of sloppy sounds, spin-kicks, and trite choreography; they are a real band who communicates something genuine through only their own instruments.
In the shallow, predictable world that is heavy music today it is more than refreshing when a band comes along that is doing everything for the right reasons. Advent is that band. Naked and Cold is that record. Bring your mosh shorts and prepare to leave changed, your mind opened, your heart at peace with your creator.
"We aren't ashamed of our faith or trying to weasel around anything to downplay it. Love someone with all your heart and you don't have to be the loudest person on your soap box, screaming. Sometimes it's all about just doing simple things to love another person, like pulling over to the side of the road to help someone who has a flat tire. In a similar way, we want the music to speak for us first and foremost, because if you music doesn't demand respect, then no one will care one bit about what you have to say."