Country Gospel, 2018
When the World Falls is one of the soundtracks from the video game Far Cry 5. “The Hope County Choir” is a fictitious musical act; the game is set in the place of the same name, somewhere in Montana.
On first listen, there are really beautiful songs of devotion here that could have come from any evangelist tent in places in America that are sneered at by people living in cities who think they are better than everyone else. Build a Castle is a rousing, inspirational call for the flock to gather around and build a beautiful house of worship together, while Now He’s Our Father could have been any uplifting hymn to God. Help Me Faith is both a plea and surrender to the Almighty. The songs here are just the kind that can be sung at any Christian house of worship, and why not?
To the folks who have played Far Cry 5, though, there is a deliciously wicked twist to the whole thing here. The songs are performed by cult members who believe that an apocalypse is incoming, and these folks are xenophobic, homicidal, drug-addled types who are shepherded by a quartet of equally sadistic individuals: the amoral John Seed, his violent brother Jacob, their adopted sister Faith, and their leader, the charismatic, overzealous Joseph Seed.
Hence, Keep Your Rifle By Your Side isn’t just a song about NRA types getting ready to deal with encroaching vermin from Florida – it’s practically a call for arms against the protagonist of the game. You see, the game is about this new and inexperienced deputy sheriff who finds themselves in a one-versus-all survival ordeal as they try to rescue their allies from the cult. Faith’s anthem Oh the Bliss is gorgeous, lush… and sacrilegious in that the Bliss in question is the drug produced by the cult. Rather than a song of worshiping a deity, it’s a song about willingly succumbing to addiction. Oh John is the best marching tune ever… and John Seed is a sadistic man who utilizes violence to brainwash and torture those who refuse to submit to his religion.
If anything, these songs prove that there is a very thin line dividing zealous worship and violent xenophobia, all the while taking me to church and making me wave my hands and sing along with fervor.
And why not? More than anything, these songs are a subversive display of how music makes some of the best propaganda. Of course, it doesn’t help that Joseph Seed is one of the hottest psychopaths I’ve come across in a video game – I could make some crude statement involving his last name, but I’m too tasteful for that – and songs like Oh John and Oh the Bliss only make me want to willingly get on my knees and be baptized by Father Seed. Oh, the Bliss will set me free and make me see… oh.
Uh, what? Oh yes. When the World Falls will probably warrant three oogies to any casual listener, but to someone like me, who is in on the dark joke and is so grateful that Joseph Seed isn’t real, this one is my church and I’m in heaven.