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Fiefdom of Angels: Side One - EP

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iTunes Review

This Christian singer/songwriter has challenged himself creatively since parting company with his fellow DC Talk partners more than a decade ago. Released with an accompanying graphic novel, Fiefdom of Angels: Side One further extends his limits by radically reworking four cover tunes (and one original) into a soundtrack project with an overarching spiritual theme. Brooding strings and rumbling percussion lift Real Life’s “Send Me an Angel” and Joy Division’s “Shadow Play” out of their ‘80s techno-rock contexts into symphonic realms, while Queen’s “Dragon Attack” loses its funky groove in favor of something more ominous and exalted. Max stretches his vocal talents in these tracks, turning in a particularly strong performance on a Middle Eastern treatment of his song “End of the Beginning.” The EP reaches a crescendo with a bold take on Muse’s “Take a Bow,” transformed into a fiery sermon infused with layered vocals and rippling synths. Fiefdom of Angels: Side One’s imaginative sweep takes you on an exalted and often scary ride, leaving you eager for Side Two.

Customer Reviews

Angelic Chiaroscuro

Fiefdom of Angels: Side One is a atmospheric addendum to Kevin's new creative endevour in sequential art (graphic novel) concerning the angelic realm of power and purpose prior to the creation of mankind...and ultimately, I assume, the Milton-esqe fall of Lucifer. This EP has a very full sound, pushing out any semblence of tight space or truncated hook singles; no, this is a soundtrack album, dark and glorious, taking its time for instrumental introduction or lengths between the listener a sense of eternal architecture being emoted. And of course, the main instrument, Kevin Max's enigmatic vibrato is always the treat, the Pied Piper troubadour that he is.

Max's rendition of Take a Bow rockets us to the vaults of the heavenlies and then releases us to Hades...and probably best suits the mood of the graphic novel...the creation of light/dark. Shadow Play, is a dark cover of a dark song, where Max chooses to keep his voice in his deeper range. And while Send Me an Angel is a unique choice for the opener, Kevin's version is slowed down and meditative, making it work for his theme. Dragon Attack is a quirky and frenetic addition...and it stands out like Get on yer Bike did for Cotes' d Amor and Jumpstart Your Electric Heart did on The Imposter; It is a rock song in orchestral music. Rebellious fun. I got really excited to see End of the Beginning because I first thought it would be a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' The End is the Beginning is the End when I read it on the tracklist, but I ended getting more excited when in fact Max updated this original gem from his own demo archive, which I believe was originally an homage to Frank Herbert's DUNE masterpiece. I am so fine with the small changes in the lyrics to line up with the Fiefdom mythos...and enjoyed the world music flair on it.

Overall, this is not a solid Kevin Max full length album, but an audio conceptual experiment attached to a graphic conceptual experiment...a musical parallel to angelic I can understand if some fans feel a sense of incongruency when compared to Max's body of works, but again, it is a soundtrack. I welcome Max's various artistic pioneerings...and rather enjoy all these songs.

Back to (my preferred) form

Kevin Max does whatever he wants, and it has all been quality. Though I have enjoyed his last couple of offerings, my favorite were his two first albums, Stereotype Be and Between the Fence and the Universe. Both these records, with their mix of rock and progressive elements, just hit the spot for me. This latest offering is awesome. Simply fantastic. It is an album of mostly covers that veer so far from the original material that it might as well be an original composition. Heck, part of the fun of the EP is the juxtaposition of hearing these songs in Kevin Max's symphonic and epic context. This is a great first half to an album.
Like a Coheed and Cambria record, you don't need to know the story to enjoy the music. And my friends, this is great music.

Simply Fabulous

I have been waiting sooo long for Kevin Max to debut his new material and he DOES NOT disappoint! The album is just flawless to the point where the covers sound like original material!! What Kevin can do with his voice and musical arrangements gives me goosebumps. Send Me An Angel and Take A Bow are especially my favorites, though I feel guilty for choosing! Everything I hoped for and more!


Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '00s

Often perceived as the eccentric, attention-seeking member of the CCM trio DC Talk, Kevin Max grew up outside of Grand Rapids, MI. Formerly known as Kevin Smith, music played a vital part in his formative years. Max started singing at the age of four and remembers "being carted around to schools, churches, and radio programs." He attended college at Virginia's Liberty University, where he met fellow DC Talk members Toby McKeehan and Michael Tait. The three formed the band in 1987, merging the styles...
Full Bio
Fiefdom of Angels: Side One - EP, Kevin Max
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Customer Ratings