Big Dismal – Believe
Rating: 8.9 out of 10 (Review Ratings Explanation)
When singer/songwriter Eric Durrance was growing up in Tallahassee, FL, he used to spend his summers exploring a geological landmark known as “Big Dismal”. The site is characterized by a massive sinkhole where 100-foot walls plunge straight down to the water below. As an adult, the title of the landmark took on a new meaning for the singer and the band that would adopt this name as their moniker.
"As we began looking at the world and everything around us, we started thinking, 'Man, these are dismal times we're in,’" Durrance says. "This name makes sense, because our music is positive and we're trying to bring a little bit of truth and inspiration into a dismal place."
On Believe, Big Dismal's debut on Wind-up Records, the Tallahassee-based quartet delivers a powerhouse rock album, bolstered by Durrance's acoustic-conjured melodies and lyrics that reflect the group's strong Christian faith. He mentioned, “This first record is a lot about love, heartache and getting through tough times," he says. "The average person is going to relate to these songs."
The young musician was raised a Southern Baptist. His mother was a musician who performed regularly and his father was a semi-truck driver. He recalls, “During my early years, I wound up at my grandma's a lot. She taught me so much about life and religion -- she is such a strong force in my life. The first single, 'Remember (I.O.U.),' is dedicated to her, and the song pretty much explains the whole story of being brought up in part by my grandparents."
As a child of the '80s, Durrance was also exposed to an array of influences the decade had to offer. "I was into all the hair bands," he confesses. "I had Mötley Crüe posted all over my wall, but I also had a little country influence. Coming from the Southern Bible Belt and being raised by my grandmother, country music was always around. I think I learned a lot about how to put words together from country music."
That skill first revealed itself when Durrance performed in a handful of acts amid the burgeoning Tallahassee scene of the late '90s. Eventually, the songwriter decided to go solo and began recording his own demos at a friend's home studio. Armed with a modest EP, these homemade tracks shot to No. 1 several times as most requested tracks by listeners at stations in North Florida.
Soon a band was assembled around Durrance featuring drummer Jeff Chomin, bassist Gary Sobel and guitarist Chuck Shea, who co-wrote some of the material on Big Dismal's debut. The overall message is one the group hopes will resonate with listeners. In closing, Durrance simply offers, “Believe.”
This CD is the first major recording from this band, and is pretty refined for a first offering. The band signed with Wind-up Records which has been introducing some good new Christian bands lately with 12 Stones already assaulting the Christian Rock charts. Big Dismal’s first single Remember has been climbing the R&R Christian Rock charts rapidly and was at #2 after May 23rd after just a short period of releasing the song to radio. I would go out on a line and say that this song will be #1, and how many more songs from this CD that will follow it will be hard to predict. The following words from the song Remember show the band’s solid Christian message:
‘When I was a young child
You watched over me
You kept me safe inside your arms
And then you set me free
So I flew away like a bird
Not knowing which way to go
The light you give me inside
It will always glow
And I want to remember
All the times we shared
And I won’t ever forget your face
You know your hands were always there’
Listen to Remember
The rest of the CD brings similar songs with strong Christian lyrics. This was the band’s first offering under a record label and it should be the first CD of many to come as this band has a lot of potential. The backing of Wind-up Records should help this band get a lot of exposure as they will get to tour with other good bands under this label. I have included some links to sample some of the other songs on the CD as well below.
Listen to Reality
Listen to Just The Same
Listen to Hanging On
Listen to Missing You
Overall, I think this CD has a lot of quality from the first track to the last. This band brings the sound of Matchbox 20, Lifehouse, and Creed to the table, but with an unquestionable Christian testimony. I would recommend this band to anyone who is into rock music, but who also likes the soft side of Christian Rock, as Big Dismal has a few melodic songs to mix in with the regular hard rock songs. The sign of a good Christian Rock band is the ability to rock hard and yet tone it down to produce some quality ballads also. This band displays that talent, and it would not surprise me to see quite a few of their songs on the Christian radio along with some mainstream rock radio stations. Parents should have no problem with getting this for their kids as there is nothing offensive in language or message. I would recommend adding this CD to your Christian Rock collection as this is one of many CD’s to come from this new band.
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