|Sampling Styles | Posted August 26, 2013
I didn't really know what to expect going into Party At The End of the World by Hardie Avenue. It turns out the band's been around for a few albums already, but this was my first look into what they had to offer.
The opening electronic beats to the title track sounded exactly like what I'd expect from an album with such a title. The danceable rap number would seem to set the stage for an album perhaps comparable to Group 1 Crew. While the rap influence returns for several tracks such as "City of Rain" and "Help Us" and the electronic sound is present to some degree in every track, the album is actually considerably more varied than you might expect.
The above mentioned songs both follow a fairly standard rap verse/pop-rock chorus formula utilized by many in the genre, but this helps create a divide I sense on the album: the rap parts and the melodic parts almost feel like different bands. As an admitted non-fan of almost anything rap, I can safely say that these rap parts don't win me over like some other rappers in Christian rock might. Luckily for this listener, the melodic moments seem to dominate for the majority of the album.
When those melodic moments do come, I couldn't help but be a bit reminded of a softer Nickelback or Shinedown in terms of the vocals. But there is considerable more emotion and depth to just about everything about Hardie Avenue. The band's never ashamed of their faith and boldly displays it throughout the entire album, which is refreshing for rock acts today.
"So help me to live like you / help me to love like you / Until the last breath / to have love for all like you" from the emotional lead single "To Love Like You" is a standout lyrical moment on the release. The ballad is a good representative of the softer and more accessible side of this album.
While about half of the album seems to be solely for fans of an electronic rap sound, the other half is filled with some of the more powerful and memorable ballads released this year. "I Will Die By Your Side" is another fine example of such songs. The vulnerable declaration of love in the chorus is another fine standout lyrical moment: "I will die by your side / you are my beautiful one / we will walk through this life / like two roses in the garden of love." Admittedly, these exact same words could have been cringe-worthy in another song, but lead vocalist Yuriy Mayba completely sells the message as heartfelt and powerful.
This tends to be a fairly common trait of many of the album's ballads. The lyrics are solid, no doubt, but could have come off a lot triter if it weren't for the excellent delivery. "You Told Me I'm Your Son" and"Now I Say" follow a similar pattern.
"No Fear" is a fairly surprising track featuring Mayba's daughter (taking a page from TobyMac's book here by giving a child their own rap number on the record). The track's message is solid and it's definitely a fine delivery, although it does risk becoming a "novelty track" of sorts.
The band is not short on relevant Christian themes from outright praise, trusting in Christ, and the fight for unity over division. The electronically-driven music always keeps things at a solid pace and never lets the album veer off into boring territory. At just over half an hour and at a mere 10 tracks, the album comes off a bit minimalist in length. But there's still more than enough here to merit a listen for fans of either of the band's musical styles.
I liked my introduction to Hardie Avenue. I think the album's stronger moments are by far the more melodic ones over the rap ones, but that may be personal preference. While there is definitely a chance of different tracks resonating with different audiences, which could impede the accessibility of the album as a whole, this is still definitely one of the fall's solid releases.
Song to Download Now:
"To Love Like You" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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