Seventh Day Slumber likes its rock hard. However, the band turned to one of its less-aggressive tracks for its initial single from the new CD “Once Upon a Shattered Life.”

The move appears to have worked because the rock ballad “Caroline” is climbing R&R’s Christian Rock radio chart. The song portrays God forgiving someone you might call the “prodigal daughter.” It describes how “yesterday is gone and everything that made you cry has fallen to the ground. I’m here to bring you home.”

It’s one of many songs that draws on the experience of the band members, notably frontman Joseph Rojas, who once had a $400 a day cocaine habit.

The disc is packed with powerful portraits of a brokenness that leads to redemption and hope. “Broken Me” is about failed dreams but looks ahead to a different future. “Shattered” asks, “Will you rescue me and take me from this shattered life?” One of the most powerful songs on the disc is “Back in Time,” a prayer for a relationship with God that states, “I want to breathe hope instead of choking. I want to feel the fire deep inside.”

Other songs are more praise-oriented, such as “Believe,” a deep and meaningful statement of faith, and “Oceans from the Rain,” which conveys amazement at God’s power, consistency and love.

Seventh Day Slumber’s first release on the BEC label is rock solid.

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Another band that went mellow for an initial release is the Afters, a pop/rock band that will spend the spring opening for MercyMe and Jeremy Camp.

The first single from “I Wish We All Could Win” is “You,” a praise ballad that’s planted at No. 11 on R&R’s Christian airplay chart.

These four guys from Texas offer everything a good pop/rock band should, catchy riffs, good hooks and heart-felt lyrics. What sets their disc apart from recent releases by similar bands is the creativity they display as they explore their themes.

For example, “You” uses simple and effective terms to convey the nature of a relationship with God. “The Way You Are” covers similar ground but with power chords and in-your-face metaphors — “It’s like atomic bombs in reverse. As if a glass could contain the sea, that’s the way you are in me.” And “Someday,” which gives the disc its title, opens as an acoustic ballad before exploding with energy as it expresses the wish that everyone could find the right path.

The Afters got their big break when they caught the attention of Bart Millard, frontman for MercyMe, and became the first band to sign with his new Simple Records label. From all appearances, they deserved their shot and are making the most of it.

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Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears on the Religion page.

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