Rarely does an album move me to tears. This is one of those albums. The final album from Cool Hand Luke, Of Man, recounts the last days of Jesus Christ, often times in stunning detail. It’s told from a different perspective on each song, from Jesus Himself, the Disciples, Mary, and the Guards. From that fact alone, this is an album unlike any other.
The album begins with Hoshana (Greek for Hosanna) and is an instrumental that pictures Jesus coming in Jerusalem on the donkey. Good-bye for now and the Last Supper are both sung from Jesus’ perspective, and both brought me to tears. When the Last Supper came on, my eyes were running, and when it came to the amazing end of that song, I broke down, and it was only the fourth song through.
The musical camera then pans to Judas and goes through his thoughts, then in the sixth song, to Jesus’ perspective again in the Garden of Gethsemane.
His Eyes is told from John’s perspective as he watches Jesus get beaten and crucified, and is the most intense of the record.
The Confusion is told from Peter’s point of view, and the remaining songs go from Mary, to the Guards, and then to Jesus getting ready to leave earth. It’s definitely a unique way to tell the story, and it’s done flawlessly.
Now I want to talk about the music itself. Like I said before, this is an album unlike any other. It’s meant to be played as a whole. It’s a musical film, similar in intensity to the Passion of the Christ. And it’s just as difficult to listen to. For the most part the album has a dark, somber atmosphere, with only a piano and soft guitar in most of the songs. This depressing style might turn some off. If you’re one who likes their music jumpy and joyful, this is definitely not the album for you. It’s a far cry from the worship chorus sung in church, yet it’s just as powerful, if not even more.
The album gets darker until it reaches its climax with His Eyes. As I said before, it’s told from John’s perspective as he watches Christ being crucified. It begins soft and somber, slowly building in intensity, describing the events from when they bound Jesus, to the crucifixion, and sometimes it can get graphic. “They struck His face, no, that’s too poetic, they punched Him until their fringes were covered in blood.” The song continues to build until it reaches an almost heavy metal climax, with pain filled screaming as the nails are driven through. It’s effective and shocking as you never expect it. If you can make it to the end of this song, well done. If you can make it without tearing up, I don’t know what to say. It then moves into the Burial, a soft instrumental to serve as a relief from the emotional barrage of the previous track.
From here on the album slowly becomes more hopeful, while still wallowing in doubt from Peter (the Confusion of Simon Peter) to Mary mourning her son’s death (I Remember) to the shock of the guards when the stone was rolled away (Two Versions), and then ends on the extremely hopeful note (Not the End, Not the End). Each song is a beautiful masterpiece that gets better each time. The only thing I could point out was that there could have been a bit more diversity, since each song is a slow piano ballad. But that’s not a complaint. For those who like faster, harder music, this record could become tedious to listen to, and might bore others. It’s not a record to put on in the background or just for casual listening, this is an album to meditate on and dig into.
Overall, I haven’t encountered an album so complete and moving in a long time. From everything, even to the cover, is perfect and done well. Each song compliments the scene perfectly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With all of this, I give this album a five out of five. It’s a must listen for any Christian, even if you only do it once. You won’t regret it.
And if all that wasn’t good enough, it’s available for free from the amazing website, Noisetrade. Here’s the link: Noisetrade: Cool Hand Luke, Of Man, Free Download.