Gungor performs at the Catalyst Conference 2010: (photo: Stephen Hunton)
Music is not my god. It’s certainly easier to say that than to live it, but if I had to, I could live without music. I do love it, though.
You see, music is not my god. It’s my bullhorn. Sometimes, I use it to express the pains of my spirit, the joys of my heart, the deeply rooted emotions words can only fail. Sometimes the bullhorn faces me. It blares truths easily forgotten in ways I can’t easily shake. Music is a reminder. When life is cold and love seems distant, music encourages. And when the only view is the awesome wonder of a mountaintop panoramic, the dynamics of a good song recall the seasons of life. Music is a gift. Cherish it.
The stigma of the “Christian music” label is difficult to shake. I find that phrase treacherous. Music is an art. It’s only Christian by what it glorifies, and that is a definition separate from what normally identifies a band as “Christian.” For a religion whose foundation is the sacrifice of a man who heals even the dead, Christianity has produced some pretty lame music. (See what I did there? Okay, I’ll stop.) As a follower of Christ, I have no problem saying that my church has been responsible for some pretty reprehensible musical crimes.
So it should come as no surprise that when a good Christian band is discovered, Christians react like they have won the lottery. The odds of finding a good “Christian band” among the large number of bands who call themselves that has to be pretty close to the odds of winning the lottery in a major city. (#science) For a lot of young Christians, Gungor is their winning ticket. While their older albums still reveal a penchant for Evanescence-isms, their newest, Ghosts Upon the Earth, is a thing of sophisticated beauty - artful without being pompous, adventurous without being self-indulgent, spiritually deep without being obtusely constructed.
“This Is Not the End” perfectly encapsulates what makes most of the album great. It sounds like a Disney movie feels. All hope, the song swells with every stomp and guitar chug. That the theme and music unite in a beautiful and perfect three minutes is indicative of much of the work on this album. If joy had a sound, this would be it.
Christians tend to jump at the prospect of merely adequate Christian artists to legitimize the concept of “Christian music” as a whole. Thankfully, with their new album, Gungor now occupies a rare space, where a group of Christian artists can challenge listeners to both experience new music and dig deeper into their faith. If you have never heard of the band, give their new album a chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, even if it is “Christian music.”
Caleb Saenz is an elementary school teacher and high school debate coach living in San Antonio, Texas. You can explore more of his interests in music, ministry, and how faith and culture meet at A Young Example.
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