Refractory Obdurate

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Some artists revel in the joy and peace of the glory of the Lord, and then there are folks like David Eugene Edwards. Edwards' music with his group Wovenhand is powerful, fascinating stuff, and his frequent citation of stories from the Bible make it clear the man's beliefs are sincere and solidly founded, but a couple spins of 2014's Refractory Obdurate make it clear he's a bigger fan of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" than "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Refractory Obdurate is an album full of blood and drama, even more musically than lyrically, and between the thundering percussion, the distorted and echoing vocals, the dynamic sway between the electric guitars and acoustic instruments, and the ominous minor-key melodies, Edwards leaves little room to doubt that he's not here to bring us comfort, but to confront us with the will of God. The fire and brimstone passion of Edwards' vocals only reinforce the emphatic roar of this music, and if you wanted to make an album that conjured the sound of a conflagration sweeping across the land, Refractory Obdurate certainly lives up to the bill, and while Edwards is clearly the auteur behind this music, Ordy Garrison's muscular but expressive drumming gives him an invaluable assist, and Chuck French's ferocious guitar work adds to the physical and emotional force of this music. In the rich tradition of a holiness preacher unafraid to confront his audience, Wovenhand have no qualms about delivering a message strong enough to polarize, but in many respects that's what makes Refractory Obdurate so powerful -- there is nothing timid in this music, and Edwards puts no stock in half-measures. This is music ripped from one man's heart and soul, and if it sometimes makes you uncomfortable, that means Wovenhand have done their job well.

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