Artist: This Surrender
Single: The Wounded
Release date: 5/30/2022
Reviewed by: John Wesley
In recent years there has been a resurgence of “heavy worship music” coming alive and passionately fighting for a voice to be heard in the Christian music world. One of the key players in this genre is none other than James Franchise from New York City, USA. He is one of the most hard-working and recognizable artists in the divine mission of bridging the gap between love for typical Sunday-morning worship music and love for heavy music. His worship project, This Surrender, released their debut album Rebirth in March of 2021 which was a well-rounded collection of originals and worship covers that many in the Church would recognize and be pleasantly surprised with. With their unique renditions of hit worship songs such as “Great Are You Lord” and “Waymaker” along with a few others, This Surrender became a staple in the alternative worship scene ushering in a breath of fresh air in the midst of the oftentimes perceived stale and uninspired “soccer-mom” Christian radio. With many single releases and collaborations with other artists sprinkled in since then, This Surrender announced a while back they are working tirelessly on a new EP hoping to release sometime in 2022. Today I will focus on the latest single release called The Wounded which hit the streaming giants on May 30th, 2022. James did all the instrumental tracking and lead vocals along with featured guest vocalists Adri Rose and The Living Levite. This single was mixed and mastered by Ben S. Dixon.
This Surrender sports a blend of styles from pop-punk to metalcore all wrapped into a unique listening experience. The Wounded is the absolute best impression of the band you can get to truly understand the stylistic goals that stem from James, the visionary and primary songwriter behind the project. No time is wasted as the track bursts forth with syncopated heavy guitar chords and James’ signature harsh vocals plowing through the airwaves. His vocals have a very distinguished timbre which can be best described as a blend of a deep growl and an authoritative yell. Once the beat kicks in supporting the guitar riff, we are welcomed by this captivating hook provided by guest vocalist Adri Rose. She also takes the lead on the first part of verse 1 and 2. Her voice is squeaky clean yet very impactful as her melody resounds over a supporting chugging riff beneath. The beat kicks up a notch with a classic “snare on 1 and 3” pummeling rhythm as James comes in with his harsh vocals driving the energy seamlessly into the chorus.
Speaking of the chorus, this is where the track levels up big time. What a fantastic section of the song! The Living Levite, our next featured vocalist, jumps in on the melody and provides a wonderful contrast to Adri’s vocals. She has a deeper and more soulful timbre making the chorus incredibly memorable. James does some layering near the end of the chorus which gives more strength and conviction with the lyric “Breath life into me!” We are brought back to the intro riff with Adri’s beautiful, soaring vocals. I seriously cannot get enough of this main guitar riff. Verse 2 is similar to verse 1 with the notable difference being the intensity of the drums. The pop-punk influence comes in strong here and gives enough variation to avoid a “copy/paste” of verse 1. As James concludes verse 2 with a ferocious “We’re the wounded but our worship is our weaponry,” we are brought back to the magnificent chorus with more development and impact.
Arriving at the bridge, the song briefly lets up on the intensity and floats in the soundscape for a bit with atmospheric vocalizing from Adri. James unveils his clean vocals for a bit as the drums and bass chop up the rhythm and give a nice groove which will lead up to one of the most gorgeous breakdowns in all of worship metal. The Living Levite hops back in on lead vocals as she takes this section by the horns with undeniable authority. The bridge repeats one more time with all 3 vocal talents layering and harmonizing each other. The lyrics here are also very anthemic: “We will never blend in / We will never fade away / We are forgotten / But you will remember the Name.” This is by far the best moment of the song. After this we willingly and thankfully get thrown back into the chorus and to the ending which is essentially a rendition of the bridge with James taking the lead.
Concerning the single artwork, James comments: “[this] depicts a robot with its chest shot out to symbolize how we, the outcasts, are wounded. This song is dedicated to the Christians who don’t fit the mold or the status quo like us heavy rockers and worshippers.” Despite some controversy regarding the contents of the artwork, James is a man of conviction whose priority is and always will be bringing the Gospel to areas where mainstream Christian radio simply cannot.
The only thing I will note about the production is the guitars could be more full and the mastering lacks some punch the song demands but these critiques are not enough to taint how high I esteem this track. I am not kidding when I say this is one of my favorite songs released this year. From the pacing to the vocal delivery and passion, I really find no fault in this song. The Wounded is catchy, powerful, heavy and commendably purposeful from start to finish. I am in great anticipation for whatever James does next in This Surrender.
James wishes to thank his supporters and patrons. You can find The Wounded by This Surrender streaming on all platforms. Support independent music!
Overall rating 10/10
For fans of A Day to Remember, Killswitch Engage and Chunk, No Captain Chunk