Sufjan Stevens- "In the Devil's Territory"

Sufjan Stevens

Seven Swans

Sounds Familyre; 2004

Sufjan Stevens has undergone extreme stylistic changes throughout his career. As Sufjan fans know, he is a talented, experienced, song writer and composer. As many think, he is a presumptuous, over-rated, religious douche. Decide for yourself. I have recently reviewed his acclaimed experimental/electronica album, The Age of Adzbut the material off of Seven Swans is the polar opposite. On "In the Devil's Territory", Sufjan uses banjo and bass the way it should be used. The creative syncopation along with Sufjan's trademark vocals doesn't evoke anything but peace. What makes the track (and Seven Swans in general) so amazing is the extremely religious concepts used. People like to call them undertones, but these aren't under tones. These are bold and blatant references to the Bible. What separates Sufjan from virtually any other Christian influenced writer is that he is not preaching. He doesn't convey his Lord as being right. He doesn't call for all his brothers and sisters from each corner of the world to join hands and accept his faith. What Sufjan does is more clever than those ridiculous religious rock bands. He presents the fearful aspects of God. He fears God, but loves him all the more. On "In the Devil's Territory", Sufjan refers to the end of world as written by the Book of Revelations. It is terrifying. "The beast will arrive in time", Sufjan warns so calmly. But his faith in God and anticipation for heaven yields him accepting of his fate, and "not afraid to die". It's religious yes, but its sure as hell better than "my God is an awesome God." Sufjan is filled with the spirit, but luckily for us his beliefs are candid and real, not Creed-like exploitation.