Woven Hand, Refractory Obdurate (2014)

Woe to the broken planet
If David Eugene Edwards was a fictional character instead of a musician, he’d appear in a story by Flannery O’Connor or Cormac McCarthy, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. His is an insistent voice, called not primarily to entertain (though many of us love his music) but to speak truth to a generation that doubts truth is possible.
Master say on

Good teacher, yes
We have heard it said
A certain man, a certain ruler
If there is no law there is no bread
New gods we have chosen
War is to the gate
In it’s turning it …tremble
Woe to Earth
Heaven has dropped its gates

[“Field of Hedon”]

“It’s primal and powerful music,” Grayson Haver Currin says in a review of Refractory Obdurate in Pitchfork, “loaded and loud enough to demand that you—Christian or no—at least consider his case.” Well, yes. That is true, but it is also more. It is also a warning, issued with concern so warmly authentic as to be convicting, that the questions Edwards is exploring matter not just now, but world without end.

Up from His high place
He looks
But there is no man
Casting down imaginations

[“Obdurate Obscura”]

Producing music first as 16 Horsepower and now as Woven Hand, Edward’s latest offering is Refractory Obdurate (2014). It’s an album designed to prove that heavy, driving rock might just be the perfect genre to express the heart of a people who discover that, as citizens of the kingdom of God they are “sojourners and exiles” in the land where they live out their lives (1 Peter 2:11). Having sworn allegiance to a different, higher king, and worshipping a different, higher God, they hold a worldview that is always out of step with the ideologies that move and mold the minds, hearts, and imaginations of their neighbors. “Refractory Obdurate is Edwards’ ‘heavy record,’” Currin notes, “with tumescent electric guitars and unforgiving drums, howled lines and massive codas.” Edwards’ music has always been intense, but this album ratchets up the level of insistence.

The music is brooding not because it is dark, but because Edwards is aware of the darkness at a time when many imagine that gazing into the abyss is a form of courage. He also believes the darkness is not out merely there, but that it runs like a wound through the human heart, including his own.

A standing fire ever doth intercede
Rip the roof off and lower me down
Forever in my time of need

[“The Refractory”]

If you are looking for quiet music as a balm for your soul during hard times, this may not be the album you need. If you are looking for music that demonstrates what it is like to be a believer in an age of disbelief, you’ll find it in Refractory Obdurate. It captures the sound not of someone who is lost but who knows himself found yet left a wanderer until his rightful king returns.

Refractory Obdurate (2014) by Woven Hand.