The Knights Of The New Crusade A Challenge To The Cowards Of Christendom

[Alternative Tentacles; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Christian garage rock
Others: Danielson, The Bellrays, Mower, Mink Lungs, The Makers

"Christendom: those who use Christ's Name in vain for the furtherance of their worldly aims of power and profit, such as hypocritical politicians and supposedly 'Christian' record labels and bands who are afraid to promote the Word of God" — from CD label

Creed, these guys ain't. In fact, they spend a good deal of time rocking and ranting against such bands that abuse the overwhelming, apparently often misled Christian market to generate sales. As you should be able to tell from the album's title, The Knights Of The New Crusade are not pandering to the cowards of Christendom or anyone else. This Challenge is actually somewhat challenging to listen to, at least for me. I don't really subscribe to any one belief system. I love the man I believe Jesus was as much as the Dalai Lama, but I follow neither. For me, the ideal is total personal freedom. I strongly oppose any sacrifice of civil liberties, and especially so when it's to conform to one particular religious code. That pretty much cuts me off from most hardcore followers of any faith, including the Knights. I can't subscribe to the idea that "'E' Is Still Evil," or any other chemical or object that is not human and therefore not capable of such a thing; nor that we should ban divorce, adultery, and porn. I don't think that anyone "wants" to go to hell, just because they don't read the same bible as you; nor that every time you have a beer, Gawd kills a kitten, but that's pretty much the message put forth here.

There is a lot to respect about this album, though. The Knights see themselves living out the story of Jesus tossing the money changers out and acting accordingly. Not only is that deeply relevant to the state of organized religion today, but it's JC at his most righteous. As well as bashing the faux Christian rockers (many of whom don't much care for the Knights either), the new crusade is against clergy skimming donations, church sanctioned gambling ("Father Bingo"), and selective bible reading. "What Part Of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' Don't You Understand" is one of the fieriest anti-war songs released in years. They say they're just here to help spread the word of God and that they don't need the temptation of a major label contract. I can get behind that.

A Challenge To The Cowards Of Christendom is also worthy of respect for it being released by Jello Biafra's personal label. Alternative Tentacles is usually host to far more anti-establishment punk bands and biting political commentary. While many of Jello's releases are as radical as the Knights, none are even remotely as religious. I know Biafra also doesn't agree with everything they say. It's easy to see why putting his name behind the new crusade would make him unsure, but it's even easier to hear why he did. They preach a blunt, honest, and ultimately well-intentioned doctrine, and, more importantly, they fucking rock when they do it. It would be a lot easier to throw this CD away like, oh, so many copies of The Watchtower if it wasn't packed with 26 minutes of balls out, hook-laden garage rock fuzz the likes of which is beyond Danko Jones. If I'd heard this when I was young, I might very well be Christian today. In the end, as long as you're not hurting anyone, who gives a shit?

1. Cowards Of Christendom
2. Got Some Gospel For You
3. Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Christendom
4. When Knights Are Low
5. Father Bingo
6. Temptation Of A Hipster
7. Lipstick Lesbian
8. The Big Man
9. The Son Of God Goes Forth To War
10. What Part Of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' Don't You Understand?
11. 'E' Is Still Evil
12. Why Do You Want To Go To Hell?
13. Knight Beat: Speaking In The Holy Spirit

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