A Decade of Hope
The three-CD Seventh Day Slumber compilation A Decade of Hope is simply a repackaging of three previously released SDS albums, Picking Up the Pieces (2003), Once Upon a Shattered Life (2005), and Finally Awake (2007). If that doesn't seem to constitute quite a decade, a bigger question involves the word "hope." It's one the band no doubt would endorse, but the overwhelming lyrical concern of lead singer Joseph Rojas is closer to desperation. To the extent he achieves hope, through Christ, naturally, it is in the face of near-suicidal despair. That despair is described right at the outset of Picking Up the Pieces on the first track, "I Know," which considers suicide. In "My Struggle," Rojas claims to be so far gone that he isn't worth saving. "Must be some mistake," he tells his Savior, "‘cause I'm not worth the price You paid." Rojas' sentiments are expressed on Picking Up the Pieces over fairly straightforward alternative rock in the Creed/Pearl Jam manner, and he himself displays a gruff, earnest voice much in the style of Scott Stapp and Eddie Vedder. This is the "bonus tracks" version of Picking Up the Pieces, including several songs from SDS' debut album, Matthew 25. Shattered Life finds the band moving more toward mainstream heavy metal, with even a few overtones of pop-punk. Meanwhile, Rojas manages some direct expressions of faith (notably in the ballad "I Believe"), while still putting a strong emphasis on the negative side. In "Back in Time," he sings, "I wanna breathe hope instead of choking." Finally Awake finds SDS having dispensed with the trappings of alternative rock in favor of outright heavy metal/hard rock, which ups the energy level. Rojas finds time to sing songs about his family, but even when he is expressing love for his son ("Always"), he is contemplating the despair his offspring may face and planning to discuss with him his own failings. The album closes with one of those Big Questions of faith, how God can allow a loved one to die. Rojas repeats his belief even in the face of another challenge. Thus does hope defeat despair through faith in three key albums by Seventh Day Slumber.