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Third Day to Return To Rock Roots?

2008 is a leap year, and it seems that with another leap year finds Third Day trying to get back to their roots. According to a recent news article, Third Day's upcoming summer release, Revelation, find the band "searching for definition" and working with producer Howard Benson, known for working with rock artists such as Flyleaf, P.O.D., and Hoobastank. The album most assuredly brings back their southern rock flavor, and with guests such as Lacey Mosely from Flyleaf and Robert Randolph & The Family Band, the amps must be turned up a bit.

Mac Powell and the guys of Third Day are by no means strangers to the rock 'n' roll. Conspiracy No. 5 and Time, still my favorite albums of their career, were great southern rock albums full of rock hooks and the occasional worshipful ballad. In 2000, the band released a self-proclaimed "side project" called Offerings: A Worship Album. It was a perfect collection of live versions of some of their most worshipful songs as well as a couple new worship songs and a couple covers. It was great as a side project, but pretty quickly, us fans realized that what was released as a side project would most likely never really be true.

You see, Offerings was way more successful for Third Day than anything before that. And, no matter who you are, sadly, some of that fame and fortune will probably go to your head. Longtime Third Day fans such as myself were devastated when they got their copies of Come Together and found a collection of overproduced pop/rock anthems instead of the raw southern rock we were accustomed to from the band. But sadly, nobody really noticed that their longtime fans were disappointed with Come Together because their new, much larger fanbase thought the new album was great. And now that Third Day had music that played well across Christian radio formats instead of the very small Christian rock market, their fans only increased. This trend continued with Offerings II: All I Have To Give and the band then sold their souls to a major American car company.

Rock fans got excited with the premise of Wire, which was touted as a return to their rock roots. However, after a couple listens, nonsense tracks such as "Rock Star" and "Billy Brown" rocked but lacked engaging lyrical content. The only real successes from Wire were a couple ballads that were Christian radio hits. The next year's release, Wherever You Are sported four collectible album covers of the band in serene pop poses and sported a selection of radio-friendly songs. After a 2006 Christmas release, 2007 contained two separate greatest hits albums, which I dubbed "Vol. 1: The Greater Years" and "Vol. 2: The Lesser Years", but Vol. 1 still was a pop revisionist look and contained little of their rock classics.

It seems that Revelation is poised to be a rock album. Howard Benson is a great rock producer and all the appearances are by rock artists. Even the cover art evokes both the style of Hail to the Theif by Radiohead and the color scheme of Led Zepplin's Mothership. Also, news of a tour with Switchfoot and Robert Randolph supporting shows a renewed rock focus as well. I'll be honest, though, because if I make it to this fall's tour, it'll be for the opening bands, not really for Third Day. I hope Switchfoot gets a large slot too, because many fans will be there to see Switchfoot and not the headlining band.

In the end, I hope Revelation is either a bold new chapter for Third Day or a return to form.  Here's to hoping that Third Day will be audacious enough to buck the Christian mainstream and do something meaningful.  But, sadly, after all the years, I doubt it will happen.