For Today – “Wake”


wake_for today In a recent interview Mattie Montgomery stated that his earlier lyrics were written from a point of insecurity and trying too hard to prove how much of a Christian he was. So the move away from blatantly Christian themes was not about losing his faith, but more about becoming attuned to the needs of For Today’s fan-base. This has not been a trouble-free transition with Mike Reynolds leaving the band following his ill-advised “No such thing as a gay Christian” tweet in January 2013. Mattie had to do some swift firefighting which saw him post his own phone number in a YouTube video as part of an apology from the band. He got about 6,000 calls and texts within the first 48 hours and managed to salvage the situation. But if he thought this was going to be the end of it, he was in for another blow. Like a bitter ex-employee, Mike Reynolds was to come back to haunt Mattie in March 2015 when Reynolds posted a blog entitled “Is Mattie Montgomery in a Cult?”

When The Moshville Times asked Mattie about the latest album, ‘Wake’, he stated “So I wrote this album, less to prove that I’m spiritual or whatever and more thinking “how can I help people?”. I want to help people. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. This album was built around giving the words to express being in a difficult place to our fans, so hopefully as they sing these songs they find the courage to face some of the things that are going on in their hearts. Maybe they’ll find some hope, some peace through that.”

Mattie went on to say “This album is by far the most intense, darkest and aggressive album we’ve done. Both lyrically and musically, it’s very different from anything we’ve ever done before. I feel with the last couple of albums we had a formula or a system that we would stick to, perhaps a little too much, but for this album we intentionally went in with the thought to just throw that out the window. Forget the expectations about what we’re supposed to do, let’s just write what’s in our hearts. This album turned out a lot different.”

Having been on Facedown and Razor & Tie, this is their first album with Nuclear Blast. The other main change is that rhythm guitarist Sam Penner has left too and they recorded ‘Wake’ with only four band members.

They open with atmospheric guitar tones and Mattie’s guttural growling in ‘No Truth, No Sacrifice’ and move into a leaden stomp, before bursting forth. “No truth, no sacrifice / This world has grown content with compromise / Know truth, know sacrifice / This world has grown content with compromise”. There is a section of Ryan Leitru’s clean singing to offset the melodic deathcore. ‘Broken Lens’ takes it back to up-tempo posturing “Inside out. Tear me open / Tear me open from the inside out / Fix this broken lens / Tear me open from the inside out / Fix this broken lens”. Then the anger and frustration of ‘Forced Into Fire’ overspills with “The heavens cry / Tears of blood / For the fallen world”.

‘Deserter’ is the outpouring of emotion raging against the battering that the band has been subjected to. “Deserter, your truth is left unsaid / Deserter, there’s a war, there’s a war inside your head / Deserter, I remember you; There was a dream in your heart, I could see from the start, and it never came true / Deserter, I remember you; I see the pain in your eyes and the fear that you hide from the brothers you once knew”. This is contrasted by the melodic ‘Bitter Roots’ with its heartfelt yearnings to tear out the pain that could easily overwhelm and consume your life.

They use ‘Wasteland’ as a darker lead back into the second half of the album, with ‘Hopeless Ambition’ declaring “Watch me as I self destruct / Under the weight of everything I wanted / Watch me as I self destruct / I gained the world, but it was not enough” and another relentless refrain of “All our heroes will fail us”. Then ‘Determination’ finally gives a glimmer of hope, which carries over into ‘Flooded Earth’ with its gentle piano intro, chugging middle section and the passionate final parting, making it one of my favourite tracks. ‘Time and Tide’ seems more out of place after all the brutality as it reeks of sheer exuberance.

The deluxe edition comes with two additional tracks, with ‘Two Brothers’ giving a nod towards the parable of the prodigal son and ‘Without You’ leaving you facing more bitter memories. “You took the easy way out / And you left me to pick up the pieces / I keep saying I don’t hold it against you / But I’m not sure if I really believe it”.

So if you are looking for the ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ passionately Christian lyrical content, then you will find this album sadly lacking. Whilst on the other hand, if you were hoping for a more connectivity with the wider metalcore scene, then this will be for you. That’s as far as I want to dig into this and I will leave it up to you to discuss the merits for each side of the debate.

Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby

Rating: 7/10

1. No Truth, No Sacrifice
2. Broken Lens
3. Forced into Fire
4. Deserter
5. Bitter Roots
6. Wasteland
7. Hopeless Ambition
8. Determination
9. Flooded Earth
10. Time and Tide
11. Two Brothers
12. Without You

Band members:
Mattie Montgomery – lead vocals
Ryan Leitru – lead guitar, clean vocals
Brandon Leitru – bass
David Puckett – drums, Percussion

Additional Piano arrangements (on tracks: 5, 9) by Randy Leboeuf

“Your moment, Your Life,Your time” [ep] (2006)
“Ekklesia” (2008)
“Portraits” (2009)
“Breaker” (2010)
“Immortal” (2012)
“Prevailer” [ep] (2013)
“Fight the Silence” (2014)
“Wake” [2015]

Record Label: Nuclear Blast, Oct. 2015

Weblinks: Facebook / Myspace / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video below: ‘Bitter Roots’


Video below: “Wake” (Teaser)

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