Wednesday, 21 November 2012

'Flyleaf - New Horizons' album review


It brings upon a relative uneasiness and a little shake of the head when you look at how rock music, or at least popular rock music has changed hands in the last 10 or so years. Admittedly the rash and “you either love it or loath it” (mostly the latter) nu metal scene was thriving but sprinkled around the wastelands were bands of considerable talent. Not that many went on to have successful careers, but they were there. 2012 sees the dominance of the radio friendly, guitar by numbers ensemble of a million and one pop punk bands, trying their damn hardest to sound like each other. Especially annoying is the factor that by having a female singer, the band becomes remarkably popular, despite not been all that good (see also Paramore, Evanescence) Girls want to be them, guys want to be in them and it's a little unfair on the rest of the field.
Bands like Flyleaf have been known to have been almost pigeon-holed into this category, or at least did in their early days. Musical sceptics frowned upon them, describing them as a band with more image than substance. An unfair description admittedly, however Flyleaf suffered a slow start to their career. Formed in 2000, their self-titled debut LP didn't see the light of day until 2005. The album subsequently went platinum, selling over a million copies and putting the doubters firmly in their place. Second effort Memento Mori (Latin for "be mindful of death" or "remember you will die.") was as good as the first, pushing Flyleaf further into the mainstream and leading to the band conquering both the mainstream rock charts as well as the Christian rock charts. 2012 sees the release of 3rd album New Horizons, as well as the departure of founding member and vocalist Lacey Sturm, although she was kind enough to record this album first.
New Horizons is brilliant. Just utterly brilliant. Opening duo '
Fire Fire' and 'New Horizons' start calmly, but proceed to build up and knock you for six with searing guitar riffs and a catchy chorus to boot. 'Call You Out' is a stomping, crashing behemoth which promises to be a firm crowd favourite. The next two tracks 'Cage On The Ground' and 'Great Love' are simpler more elegant beasts and Lacey has never sounded better. She has already proven to have an excellent voice yet she belts these choruses out like it's what she was born to do. Backed by a excellent cast of musicians in the likes of Sameer Bhattacharya, Jared Hartmann, James Culpepper, Pat Seals.
'Freedom' is a throwback to earlier success and sound, which adds a welcome extra dimension to an already fabulous album. The penultimate track, the bruising 'Green Heart' finds Flyleaf at their absolute heaviest. I foresee quite a few broken bones if this track ever gets played live. The album is not without a quiet side though, proven with the trio 'Saving Grace', 'Stand' and 'Broken Wings.' Stand is ironically the stand-out track of the three, while Broken Wings is a touching ballad and a fitting way to end such a great album.
9.5/10

Words by David Dring