A SONIC HEAVEN FOR THE PRAYERFUL
2015 / 10 Tracks / 53 minutes
“Second To None”, the first full-length from Tennessee worship band Augustus, is a diverse indie rock album that centers around the Gospel of Jesus and all the emotions that lie therein. Augustus is Andrew Michael Meador – vocalist and songwriter – and is a beacon of light in the jam-packed CCM crowd. Andrew Michael Meador is young, and the maturity he exhibits on ‘Second To None’ is a true testament of his character and faith.
This is radio-friendly indie rock, but it contains several elements – eerie electric chords, subtle classic rock outbursts, synthesizers, cellos, church bells – that would perk up the typical listener’s. Make no mistake: this isn’t a pop record. Consonant highs are mixed equally with dissonant lows, subject matter ranges from glorious praise to heart-wrenching accounts of the crucifixion. ‘Second To None’ covers the emotional spectrum with audacity and grace.
Consider “Son Of Man”. It is the fifth track on ‘Second To None’, after the mood-setting title track opener, the mega-church anthem “Holy Lord”, the the desperately pleading “Open Heart Surgery”, and a rousing rendition of “Seek Ye First”. It’s one of the best Christian songs of the year. It vividly recounts Jesus’ last day on earth, but doesn’t exploit it. Instead, it focuses on Jesus’ selfless love in the midst of suffering, abuse, blood, torture, and nails. There is a line about Jesus sharing the skyline with thieves and murderers. It is bold writing like this that sets Augustus apart from the pack. It is a monolithic song.
“King Of Glory” follows, a seven-minute opus about the reverence of God, that begins with slow, ringing chords and culminates with an oceanic burst of post-rock electricity, with Andrew Michael Meador crooning “He will come to judge the living and the dead for what they’ve done”. Epic stuff.
And then Augustus throws in a surprise. Perhaps a sound of theirs to come, “Sonrise” lightens the mood with a sugary dose of synth-pop and beautiful vocals. Andrew sings, “Flood our lives with Holy light / The glory of the risen Son is shining down on us” and “You will be our light / No more darkness / No more night”. It’s a welcome, stirring sound. It segues into “Terra Sancta”, a neo-classical, almost gothic-sounding number with breathtaking instrumentation.
In many ways it is difficult to review worship records. After all, their purpose is to praise Jesus, and who are we to judge that? And music speaks to us all differently. But, every once in awhile someone comes along and pushes the boundaries of how we define worship musics. Challenges us with their sound, their message, and the mood that they create. Augustus is one such band. Their artistry swells far beyond the fray. “Second To None” is a journey through the life of Christians, at once dark and uplifting, contemplative and exciting. It is a feast for the ears, a sonic trip for the prayerful. A glorious record for Christians to behold.
Review by Jason Ramsey
GET IT ON ITUNES!