Stephen – Crossfire

“Heaven if you sent us down, so we could build a playground, for the sinners, to play as saints, you’d be so proud of what we made.”

If you close your eyes at the exact moment you press play, the beginning of a dramatic, epic movie trailer will unfold before you. At least, that’s what I saw. Especially once the chill-step dubs come wobbling in, followed by the sound of someone sobbing, and then distant gunshots growing louder, closer, as jets fly above.

Stephen Swartz, going simply by Stephen, makes life for a reviewer tough with this category-defying song. It blends genres, sound-effects (is that glass breaking? Chains?) electronic drums, and guitars all into one amazing mosaic of a tune. Blast this with a subwoofer and it’ll rattle every bone in your body. The first “drop,” especially, will catch you off-guard—it comes in with what sounds like violins straight out of the movie The Fifth Element.

And in the end, with that reversed guitar solo swirling into power chords, driving home the final chorus—is that a hint of Frusciante-era Red Hot Chili Peppers? Or is this Exile of Main St.-style Rolling Stones, with those wonderful female vocals.

Singing about the tragedies of the world that plague us today, Stephen doesn’t dwell; and it isn’t exactly a call to arms, either—no soap box anthem, here. Stephen simply croons soulfully, evoking his and this generation’s agony and frustration, with lines like “Society’s anxiety, deprives of all that we’re blessed with, we just can’t get enough.” There’s so much energy in this song. It rumbles and shakes with calculated ferocity, playing like a massive opening number to a post-apocalyptic musical.