Disciple is a Dove award winning five piece band from Knoxville, Tennessee. I would compare them to bands such as Thousand Foot Krutch and Breaking Benjamin, using a heavy rock and southern metal sound. This Christian outfit has been around a lot longer than one would think, having formed way back in 1992. Hard to believe that was almost twenty years ago isn’t it? I was born in 1992…and now you all feel old! Anyway, having been around that long, Disciple has released quite a few albums in their time. I gave some of their older work a few listens, and it is obvious Disciple has developed their sound quite a lot over the years, and the change shows in their latest album Horseshoes & Handgrenades. Now… whether it’s for better or for worse is difficult to decide, and will be up to the listener’s opinion.
There is no doubt that Horseshoes & Handgrenades is a fun listen. I remember sitting around with my friends and listening to their album Scars Remain, bobbing our heads to the catchy riffs and sing-along style lyrics. Horseshoes & Handgrenades doesn’t disappoint in that area, just about every track contains sweet guitar riffs, impressive drum work, and catchy choruses. Opening the album is the first single, “Dear X, You Don’t Own Me”, a passionately written song to pain, shame, hate and anger. This song is obviously written to make the radio, with a “raise your hands and shout your lungs out” type chorus, and an inspiring melody. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and its purposeful radio friendliness is all too apparent. And I felt that way about several of the songs on Horseshoes & Handgrenades.
Following “Dear X”, is the heavier “Watch It Burn”, which sounds like it could be straight from a Thousand Foot Krutch album. Even though I enjoyed it the song itself, the blatant similarity was distracting. The fourth song on the album, “The Ballad of St. A”, is the heaviest song on the album, and my personal favorite. It starts with war-like drums, and then cuts to a shattering breakdown, with pounding double kick, and chugging guitars. It lifts you up midway, and throws you back down with a final, and extremely impressive breakdown. An obvious crowd motivator. Other songs like “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” and “Battle Lines” also provide metalheads, like myself, a heavier, headbanging sound.
The biggest problem I had with this album is inconsistency; it starts off radio friendly with the first track, then goes into heavier sound. Only to once again go back to radio friendly “Invisible”. When I wanted it to stay heavy, it would soften up, and vice-versa. Only a few songs stuck out to me as reminiscent of their albums Scars Remain and Back Again. Some were painfully generic, such as “Remedy”, which sounds similar to Skillet. They use an “orchestra” to give it “epicness”, which is largely overused in my opinion. Songs tended to blend together in the middle of the album and only had a handful of standout tracks. Possibly the best ballad on the album is “Worth the Pain”, the album closer. The piano behind Kevin Young singing “It’s worth the pain” is beautiful, and the arrangement of this song is just awesome.
Though Horseshoes & Handgrenades doesn’t provide anything revolutionary to the genre, there’s no doubt Disciple are talented musicians. Kevin Young’s lyrics have matured significantly, and Trent Reiff’s drum work is impressive. Andrew Welch and Micah Sannan certainly know their way around their guitars. Disciple isn’t the heavy rock/southern metal sound they were in previous albums, and occasionally come across as generic in Horseshoes & Handgrenades. Nevertheless, the album is still fun to listen to with its uplifting lyrics and sound that pleases the ears. It won’t disappoint diehard fans, and it will certainly attract new ones.