Insomniac Folklore – Everything Will Burn

Insomniac Folklore
Everything Will Burn

Insomniac Folklore unquestionably puts the “art” in Artistic with their unique brand of theatrical compositions. I believe they call it “charming and aggressive theatrical punk.”

Their style of music is by far the most unique style lyrically and sonically that I have ever reviewed. Specifically, their last release was the only CD I have ever reviewed with a “Parental Warning” on the cover. Although this latest release was given to me via download, I can only speculate that it too would have a similar content warning. It’s not for the faint at heart Christian. It is at times dark, vulgar, and shocking, but it speaks the truth like no other with its provocative lyrics and sometimes gloomy soundtrack. It is truly what I love most about the band and (so far) both of their projects that I have had the joy and privilege to review.

Concerning the music; the project is interlaced with musical interludes prefixed as a “Tetrad” which in musical terms is a set of four notes. Not sure the significance, but each one has a distinct part that follows. Including a reference to the Jewish holiday the “Succot” which, according to Wikipedia, commemorates the miraculous protection of God as observed by Jewish tradition. This makes some sense when you think of the overarching Apocalyptic nature of the project. Like I eluded to before, this is a though provoking collection of songs.

My personal favorites are the irrefutable “Everything Will Burn,” the oddly entertaining “Black Widow,” which speaks somewhat of the Pharisees and Sadducee’s of today (preachers and politicians) – “preachers make good salesmen, politicians make good crooks, sometimes you can’t tell which is which…” Then there’s the guitar driven “Dust” which is just awesome sounding, and lastly, “The End.” This aptly titled closing song has a haunting finish like an old-style spiritual. This is also one of the most difficult songs lyrically, it is very honest retelling of a horrifying event in singer Tyler Hentschel’s life.

“The End” contrasts the hedonistic behavior of a overstimulated and oversexed generation with the disturbing account of singer Tyler Hentschel’s own brush with death, robbed at gunpoint in an abandoned house. To the sounds of thunder and soaking rain, this sordid vision gives way to ethereal harmonies in a reprise of the title track that is not at all gloomy, but hopeful, radiant, waiting.

Personally, I have an appreciation for the provocative art and stylistic bravery of being diverse and eclectic. I also feel comfortable enough to be challenged in my way of thinking, particularly when it comes to presenting life as a Christian through music. While Insomniac Folklore is not  as polished as the top-40 we generally gravitate towards, it is truly authentic and praiseworthy.

If you’re interested in the artistic anomalous, check them out at

– Ken W.

November 2014 Review – “A Place Where Runaways Are Not Alone

Steven Malcom – The Second City Part 1

Steven Malcom
The Second City Part 1
Word Records

Malcom’s follow up to his self-titled debut is a short but full EP featuring four new tracks, of which three feature fellow upcoming artist Taylor Hill, Anderson Michael and Zauntee. While it is a small collection I found that it was more than full when it comes to content. “Not to Us” sets the spiritual tone with a lyrical testimony of a personal faith that’s changed his life. This is followed by my favorite, “Watch.” This song is deeply personal, and the lyrical rhymes just seem to flow so naturally. It’s such a cool way to communicate personal struggles and faith in song. The final two tracks, “Rodeo” and “Fadeaway” compliment the EP well with a gospel centered focus and excellent craftsmanship. For more on Steven Malcom check out his official website at

– Ken W.

Biographical Video:

Self-Titled Review:

Imari Tones – Jesus Wind

Imari Tones
Jesus Wind
Kitchen Knife Records

It is no trivial fact that Imari Tones is a Christian Japanese heavy metal band when you consider the deeply rooted traditions of Buddhism in their country. One should not assume either that Christianity cannot thrive in the same vein as other more traditional religions of any region. It is within that tension that Imari Tones approached their latest release, “Jesus Wind,” as a concept album that concentrations on Japanese history from a Christian perspective. Their press release explains it well;

The album consists of 3 parts: Past, Present and Future. This is because the band decided to write not only about the past, but also about the future, in order to convey the message of hope. The Present part gives the listener a feeling of tension and reality, through the songs about the ongoing events like Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident in 2011 and political turmoil in the current world. The future part has almost prophecylike overtone, with spiritual utopian songs like “Revolution” and “New Jerusalem”.

All that aside, I  admire the fact that they are a hard-working band, laser focused on a mission. If you look at their Band Camp page, you’ll see they have close to two-dozen albums available! It’s a good stretch of time, work and effort that shows an incredible amount of commitment and drive.

The greatest appeal of their latest (and former) release for me, is the cutting-edge metal. I love the energy of the guitar riffs and leads that are backed up by a pounding back beat of drums and bass. I love to hear the blistering solos like on “The War” and the three-plus minute solo, “This is How Freedom Dies.” It leads into the fist pumping “Repent” which is one of my favorite songs on the new album. They also come close to the infamous rock ballad with the more subdued “The Peace;” which also has a sweet Satriani style solo too boot.

Imari Tones reminds me of a time when the neighborhood garage band was grinding out great tunes. It’s less radio polished and just pure rock driven. If you’re looking for something unique and eternally significant, I would highly recommend checking them out at the resources listed below.

– Ken W.

Nathan Tasker
“The Hymns Collective”
Luxtone Records.
15 tracks @ 61:32
Grade = A

I love the hymns and there are times when I want the mix to be simple and understated. Thank you Nathan Tasker for releasing such a disk.

“How Firm A Foundation,” “Be Thou My Vision,” (a fave) and “All Creatures of Our God and King” are just a few of the songs here. Sometimes it just Nate and his guitar. Works for me.

I’m glad I picked this one up during Nate’s tour stop with Michael W. Smith. I had Nathan at my church a couple of years ago and did an unplugged music video with him. Great guy.

– Rob S.

Michael W Smith – “Surrounded by a Million Points of Light” World Tour

Michael W Smith
“Surrounded by a Million Points of Light” World Tour
Davenport, IA
March 16, 2018

When was the last time ANY recording artist was out on tour backing the release of two new projects? That’s what Michael W. Smith is doing on his current tour. And this MWS at his best.

You can’t go wrong opening with new standards such as “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” Most were on their feet, singing along.

Michael then performed several tracks from “A Million Lights.” The back story on “Footsteps,” which Michael shared from the stage, made that song even more moving. “Your Love,” “Crashing Waves,” and “Revolution” were all excellent as Michael’s backing band and singers are outstanding. The sonic wall had me out of my seat. Get the disk, then go to the show. You’ll appreciate the new songs that much more.

Michael then took the audience on a back-in-the-day swing through songs from his extensive catalog including “Secret Ambition” and “This Is Your Time,” the latter made even more poignant given receive events in Florida and New Mexico.

Stu Garrard, “Stu G,” former guitarist from the mush-missed delirious? was a surprise opener. Stu played a couple of songs unplugged and talked about his “The Beatitudes Project.” Its great seeing him back on stage, the guy can play.

Nathan Tasker was the other act billed on this tour. Nathan did an unplugged set. The back story on the song “Eternity” made his performance that much more meaningful. Nate did tell the audience that no one from Australia knows what a “bloomin’ onion” is. (HA)

I’ve seen MWS in concert several times, most recently last summer, performing in front of 20,000-plus on a beautiful Wisconsin summer evening at Lifest. I was disappointed at the turnout in Davenport. Many of those in attendance were older than I and I’m an old dude. Michael’s shows are more about worship and community, great for all ages.

– Rob S.