Written by: Abby Baracskai (August 16, 2018)
Let me begin by saying I was a pretty big fan of ILIA and was bummed when they disbanded. Listening to Suzie’s music as Zahna reminds me about everything I loved about ILIA and more. Red for War is a deeply emotional album filled with stunning vocal range and good ol’ grunge. I am friends with Suzie on Facebook and I have followed her journey to producing Red for War. I have read her posts about writing lyrics, recording the music (with her soon to be hubby!!) and basically her entire journey with this new project. I am honored to be able to see what the ups and downs in her life have produced in Red for War.
The album begins completely blowing the gate right off the fence with the track “Unshaken.” Guitars are shredding, drums are banging and screams are blaring through your speakers. It is fantastically hardcore. The song talks about how as Christians we can lean on God during trials and in life and ask for His help. In spite of how “everything is trying to kill you,” we are able to keep ourselves steady with the help of God and His love for us, along with the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The song is a great rock anthem to rally people to lift their eyes above their circumstances and remember who is in control.
Okay, I have to take a moment to gush over the track “With You.” If you have listened to ILIA or have read some of Suzie’s posts, you would know she has dealt with a lot of difficult things in her life, like not feeling worthy of love. Recently, her and Patrick Madsen (drummer of Random Hero) got engaged. To hear her sing of being in love and seeing her so happy with someone who treats her right fills my heart with so much joy. The song also is lighter hearted and allows her unique and beautiful vocal range to really shine. It’s a wonderful love song and I feel it’s uber special to her too because of her long and painful journey with self doubt and feelings of worthlessness. But I digress.
The rock continues to hit in “Was I Bad.” There are slight electronic tunes that mix with the guitars and low growls to create a really interesting sound. The message, to me, sounds like a push and pull of godly thoughts and the lies the devil tries to tell us. She talks about how her past is filled with so many broken pieces and mess-ups and mistakes so how could anyone fix it or love her? These thoughts and feelings come from the devil to try and distract us from the love, forgiveness and mercy we find by accepting Jesus. In the end, we know that Jesus “can win” over the devil and we are washed clean by His forgiveness.
“Edge of the Earth” is a beautiful ballad that acts like the icing on the cake for Red for War. Remember that love song I was talking about earlier? Well this track is like a love song for God. The piano adds a level of intense emotion to remind us just how deep Christ loves us. He “carries [our] sins to the edge of the earth” so we can live in relationship with Him. We may be weak, broken, bruised, exhausted, or whatever else, but God is right there with us, walking next to us, holding our hand, or even carrying us when we can’t take one more step. Wrapping up the album with such a powerful and emotional message was a fantastic choice because the message of God’s love and hope is what sticks in your mind.
Red for War is another shining star for the Christian rock industry that most certainly proves Christian rock is not dead. There are screams, growls, shredding guitars, hard-hitting drums and just nasty rock vibes throughout. Of course, there are softer vocals and music sprinkled in to offer another side of Zahna.