Americans in Europe got the rare opportunity to rock with some of Christian music’s hottest artists and most promising newcomers last month.

Fans at Christmas Rock Night in Germany and Winter Wonder Rock Festival in the Netherlands were able to catch performances by Pillar, the O.C. Supertones, Project 86, Barlow Girl, Sanctus Real and the hard-rocking new group Day of Fire.

While such festivals are common stateside, few make their way to secularized Europe. But that doesn’t mean they’re less welcome.

“I think they were really more receptive,” said Joshua Brown, frontman for Day of Fire.

“They really want to rock, they really want to thrash around, but they’re really hungry for the Spirit of God.”

Although the cultures are different, people are the same, Brown said. “It’s the same needs. People are looking for the same things overseas as they are in America. People are looking for acceptance and people are looking for love.”

Among those singing, dancing and praising at the Dutch and German festivals were members of the U.S. military community. “They seemed really excited to have American rock music over there,” he said.

Brown said he enjoys reaching out to U.S. troops because his wife grew up in a military family.

“I am so thankful for our troops,” he said. “Any time I see someone in a uniform, I like to give them a CD.”

For Day of Fire, whose “Cornerstone” spent much of December at No.3 on the Christian radio rock chart, the festivals were just one part of European concert tour.

“The crowds were a little smaller in Europe than they are in the States, but they were way more intense. … They came to rock,” Brown said.

Just a few years ago, a Christian concert tour would have seemed unimaginable to Brown. He was lead singer for a successful group known as Full Devil Jacket, which spent a year and a half touring with Nickelback, Fuel and Creed. During that time, Brown lived the stereotypical rocker lifestyle.

“Five years ago, I was on drugs and I was looking for another high. I never thought I could kick it or that I would want to kick it,” Brown said.

That changed after a heroin overdose and a stint in rehab.

“God came into my life when I was almost dead,” he said. “He’s an aggressive God.”

Brown turned away from Full Devil Jacket and the music business after he realized the old band and his new life didn’t mesh. However, Brown eventually met Gregg Hionis and the two formed Day of Fire.

Brown’s personal experience makes Day of Fire’s self-titled debut album hard-edged and genuine. Most of the disc’s songs feature guitar-driven rock and Brown’s throaty vocals. It opens with “Through the Fire,” an assertive account of God promising to see a believer through trials. The hit “Cornerstone” is a bit slower but no less intense as it describes relying on God’s strength. Other excellent tracks are the hard-hitting “I Am the Door,” which examines the need to turn away from sin, and the slower “Rain Song.”

The songs are packed with images touching on Brown’s struggles, as well as his new life.

“I like music for the person that I used to be,” he said. “Because God came into my life and healed me of drug addiction and completely changed my heart and my mind, I want other people to know who he is. … My mission is just to introduce people to the Jesus that I know. He’s not a book of rules or a church service, he’s the living God.”

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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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