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A Challenge To The Cowards of Christendom
virus352 (2006) CD - $12.00 | LP - $12.00
iTunes emusic
Meet the most controversial garage band to storm the music scene in years! Combining a furious garage punk assault with an uncompromising and literal devotion to the Holy Bible, the Knights of the New Crusade are without a doubt the most divisive band in both the Christian music and punk rock circles.

It's quite understandable that you may feel dismayed, betrayed even, that we'd get mixed up with a band who delivers such an in-your-face spiritual message. But listen, dear friend, after much soul-searching- and flying objects around the office- we at Alternative Tentacles decided shunning the Knights would be reverse discrimination which would deny us, and you, the pleasure of the rockin' tuneage on this new record, their second full-length and AT debut! After all, the Knights of the New Crusade's stated objective is to take Christianity back from the powerful hypocrites who have hijacked it and to make Christian rock that actually rocks! Besides, we at Alternative Tentacles thrive on controversy, especially when it's as double-edged as the sword they wield on stage.

While the Christian scene debates their tactics (you should see the angry e-mails!), the secular underground dukes it out: are they... or aren't they? Their music is good enough that members of just about every Bay Area punk and garage band have been rumored to be among these self-styled musical and Spiritual warriors. Has Jello's taste for the extreme finally gone off the deep end? Or is this the most diabolical concept band since......a certain tall fellow's last concept bands? Either way, 'A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom' is Good News, however you choose to interpret it! We also have their debut cd too, and check out their Knight-Gnosis website. Don't miss their epic 3rd record, 2010's Knight Vision.

"This record kicks off with the garage rock equivalent of the Geto Boys 'We Can't Be Stopped,' giving a big shout out to the New Testament and telling modern day Christians where the kingdom the Knights are coming from... Crusades-era Christian lyrics sung over garage rock performed by a bunch of dudes in chain mail. The music is top notch 60's garage combined with reverb-drenched surf rock... You know this is going to be fun live, especially if they actually play Christian venues. If so, will someone try to book them a show at Shadow Mountain Community Church out in East County?"
- Genetic Disorder

"Readers of this magazine's messageboards may want to set aside any apprehension about The Knights Of The New Crusade. However outlandish the medieval battle rainment they sport and the political questionability of their name, these hombres rock hard and unashamedly for their Lord. And lest you count a handful of US and UK bands to antecede the late 60's flowering of Jesus hippies, godly rock'n'roll has not seen the Knights' manner of primitivist garage rock... ever? They match the raw greasiness (some would say amateurishness) of the leanest 'n' meanest of the acts collected on the Pebbles box sets and use that bravado for an upfront message that's sure to chafe some of their kin in Christ. Wait, it already has! And if their stances on some issues force a theological quibble or three, you can't say the Knights aren't expressing their opinion with no room for gray. And if an avowedly ministry band who can cram 13 tracks in under 27 minutes with production values that make The Mummies sound like Boston are able to pique Jello Biafra's interest enough to sign them and repair the broken cross in his label's logo mascot's grasp, might the Knights be doing something right after all? Believe it."
- HM: The Hard Music Magazine

"When I first received this album, I wasn't sure what to think; the truth is, I'm still not 100 percent sure. Christian punk bands are nothing new. Some, like Relient K and MxPx, are actually quite popular. Still, quite often their message is understated, and they simply focus on music with a positive message. The Knights of the New Crusade are not like that.
First, the band is on Alternative Tentacles, Jello Biafra's (Dead Kennedys) record label. Jello Biafra is well-known for being critical of politics and religion. The press release attached to the album claimed that not distributing the band would have been reverse discrimination, and while one may have a hard time following that argument coming from this notoriously tongue-in-cheek label, after researching the band a bit, I am inclined to believe these guys are for real.
The album is packaged to look like a Jack Chick religious tract, but I don't even think this is intended to be a joke. Granted, there's always the possibility the band is an inside joke or a bit of satire taken a bit too far, but I'm more inclined to think they are serious, and signing them is just another way Alternative Tentacles is pushing the envelope.
Musically, this album is great! These guys play some great garage punk, blended with a bit of hardcore. "Got Some Gospel For You" is a great driving garage punk tune, and "When Knights Are Low" is a slow groove that mixes in elements of smooth surf guitar and a bit of rockabilly, almost like classic Cramps.
"What part of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' Don't You Understand" is fast punk antiwar song, and it rocks, but the album's high point is the Knights' bluesy cover of the Gospel classic "The Big Man". It's a fast, rockabilly-tinted tune; catchy and infectious. This is pretty typical of the music on the album. It's excellent garage punk - but the music is only half of the Knight's package.
To say the Knights of the New Crusade have a message would be an understatement - they preach. And they are not at all ashamed to admit it. Their message is extremely Evangelical, and they even mention in their songs that they are under attack from Christian punk bands for coming on too strong. They also say they feel it's the only way to go. They seem to take it a bit too far, though; talking about their rejection of fame and fortune while somewhat glorifying themselves at the same time.
A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom is musically an excellent album, but the message and lyrics are extreme enough that they will probably alienate a lot of people, and even make them angry. If you agree with their message, you'll love them. If you don't, you'll feel alienated by it. There's no middle ground. It hampers the band's ability to attract fans; the end result will either leave the Knights of the New Crusade preaching to the converted, or keeping it an inside joke with their friends about their concept act taken a bit too far."

"One way to express discontent with the Christian Right's endless attempts to install fundamentalist values as public policy is to burn an upside-down cross into your forehead and release new music on 6/6/06. That approach certainly has its charm, as those Christ-hating folks in Deicide have proven over the years.
But while knee-jerk recoiling beats passive complacency, it's hard to imagine a dialog resulting from a song like "Kill the Christian." Hence the value of the Knights of the New Crusade: they're fun on a purely musical level, with blaring garage rock as raw as anything on Nuggets and they've got big aspirations. As their mission statement declares, the Knights' objective is to "take Christianity back from the powerful hypocrites who have hijacked it and to make Christian rock that actually rocks." It's hard to suppress an "amen" to that.
A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom is just that. "Too Christian! Too strong!" declares opening track "Cowards of Christendom," and it brings not just the noise, but the message too: when the Philistines have co-opted the Word and perverted its ideas until the image of Jesus is misused to drum up support for a wall to keep out struggling immigrants, anti-gay bigotry, the death penalty, war, and pro-corporate Republican policies, an intervention is necessary. These Knights, in full medieval crusader garb including helmets, armor, and sword, nominate themselves for the task. Alternating between bouts of rock and didactic skits, they combatively remind us that the actual Jesus embraced peace, brotherhood, an equitable redistribution of wealth, and the defense of sexual outcasts like Mary Magdalene. No right wing shill for the profoundly anti-human policies of the Bush administration, the real Jesus was at least as heroic and inspiring as Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, or Oscar Romero, and the Knights' crusade is to reclaim him as a progressive.
It's a tall order, but the fact that they tap into a 1960s garage ethos so militantly that Mark Arm must be seething with jealousy helps. A Challenge sounds like something recorded on one mic (needle pushed very much into the red) in 1966 and left to fester in a dank basement until someone transferred the acetate to CD without any cleanup. I mean that as praise—when the band shouts, "I got news, got news for you" on "Got Some Gospel for You," the only way to distinguish it from the Sonics is that the opiate of choice is religion rather than Strychnine. "Father Bingo" launches a jeremiad against a priest who "fleeces his flock just to pay for his honey and milk," while some roadhouse blues seep through the cracks of the gospel traditional "The Big Man." Each song gets biblical footnotes, proving that the Knights know their good book, as well as how to subvert contemporary dogma. "Lipstick Lesbian," for instance, may sound palatable to evangelical ears, but track down its reference to Matt 5:32 and you'll find that "whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Cheering homophobes might recall something about the first stone.
The between-song skits skewer the modern corruption of Christianity, as greedy executives on the sharply-titled "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Christendom" remind one another, "We have to assure that the actual teachings of Christ are not evident in any of our products. They might offend some people, just as they did when he was alive." Another complains of the Knights, "They want to throw the money changers and the vendors out of the temple again. Wasn't once enough?" As on many rap albums, the skits hinder the flow of repeat listens, but they're clever, pointed, and short (the whole album clocks its thirteen tracks in at twenty six minutes), and they might even inspire questioning among real-world conservative Christians (who surely peruse the Alternative Tentacles catalog often), coming as they do from the ranks of the saved.
Of course, one could harbor suspicion about the true beliefs of the Knights; to be sure, their shtick isn't too far removed from garage devotees like the Mummies, in both sound and image. But they apparently play actual Christian venues, they indisputably know their Bible, and they have a better understanding of Jesus than George Bush or Pat Robertson. Time will tell whether they manage to reclaim Christianity from such hypocrites, but in the meantime they certainly succeed in their secondary goal of making Christian rock rock!"
- Stylus Magazine

"The trouble with most Christian rock is that while it may do a fine job of encouraging folks to get right with Jesus, it usually falls short on the rock side of the equation -- there just aren't many bands on the spiritual tip who can rock out with the fire and abandon of, say, the Stones, the Ramones, or Motörhead on a good night. Whatever anyone has to say about the Knights of the New Crusade, they're one Christian band that's not afraid to make with the rock hard, strong, and frantic; sounding more like the Mummies or Thee Headcoats than any of the usual Christian rock suspects, the Knights crank out sloppy but hot-wired garage rock that should satisfy anyone looking for some high-test bash and crash. At the same time, the Knights wear their spiritual beliefs on their sleeves... as rock & roll, this stuff is potent enough that you wish they'd talk less and crank out more than 26 minutes of music -- the Knights of the New Crusade generate enough heat to merit a listen regardless of your (or their) religious beliefs. Onward Christian soldiers!"
- All Music Guide



1. "Cowards Of Christendom" (2:17)
2. "Got Some Gospel For You" (1:56)
3. "Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Christendom" (1:08)
4. "When Knights Are Low" (2:11)
5. "Father Bingo" (2:29)
6. "Temptation Of A Hipster" (0:32)
7. "Lipstick Lesbian" (2:10)
8. "The Big Man" (2:25)
9. "The Son Of God Goes Forth To War" (1:51)
10. "What Part Of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' Don't You Understand?" (2:20)
11. "'E' Is Still Evil" (0:50)
12. "Why Do You Want To Go To Hell?" (2:31)
13. "Knight Beat: Speaking In The Holy Spirit" (3:34)

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