|Burning Up | Posted September 30, 2013
Righteous Vendetta's career path embodies some of the rebel heart of hard rock. After a few releases on well-established hardcore label Red Cord Records, they decided to take to the independent road, armed with songs they love and a rare boldness to sing honestly about things that matter deeply to them. This path has garnered them consistent high chart positions for "This Pain," a song that has brought them the attention of Christian hard rock fans nationwide. The success of that single serves as the launching pad for their latest full length effort, The Fire Inside.
Opening track "Defiance" largely sets the tone for the album as a whole, featuring an attitude of aggression summed up by the bold declaration, "I will spit in the face of defeat." Single "This Pain" follows. Its success is instantly validated by its hook-heavy organization and deeply poetic and raw lyrics crying for pain to be taken away.
"What You've Done" is one of the strongest offerings on the album, featuring an infectiously singable chorus and brilliantly employing some dual guitar riffs. "With Love" takes a softer approach which highlights the sorrowful vocals voicing the plea: "how can we live with the silence? / Can you feel it on your hands? / We have the power to change the world with our love."
Suitably, the title track "The Fire Inside" serves as a kind of thesis statement for the band and this particular album, channeling the signature aggression of hard rock into a drive to fight for light—a drive fueled by the Holy Spirit burning internally. "So Long" capitalizes on the harsher elements of Righteous Vendetta's style, growling through its defiance of anything that threatens to hinder the spiritual stand the song takes.
"Inside My Eyes" introduces an almost worshipful mood, backed by the crunch of Justin Olmstead and Carl Heiman's guitars. This song is also a standout instance of the band's ability to combine elements of a harder style with surprisingly pop-driven chorus structures, a style that creates the potential for their tunes to be accessible to more than just the hard rock audience. "Fight Back" stylistically references more classic epic metal elements.
"Far Away" and "Back to Life" could be two parts of a story, with "Far Away" expressing a sense of isolation and "Back to Life" expressing what happens when our lives collide with God. "Back to Life" in particular has a soaring quality in its musical progression and frontman Ryan Hayes's vocals that subtly lifts the listener's heart along with the theme of the song.
Featuring guitars tuned low and constructively channeled aggression, "Losing Control" takes the common rock theme of losing control of yourself but turns it towards exploring what happens when the loss of control is due to giving yourself over to God's will instead of giving yourself over to worldly desires and pursuits. "For the Skeptic" is one of the tracks that seems most in line with current Christian hardcore movements with its heavy scripture focus in the lyrics, clean cut guitars, and clear chorus.
"John the Revelator" is even more focused on scriptural imagery, particularly in terms of apocalyptic themes, as is implied by the title. "Reason" makes space for a strong breakdown, giving bass player Zach Goggins a chance to shine. This song speaks against the arrogance inherent in putting your own reason in the place of absolute truth. "You talk so proud, now watch as I tear your kingdom down," the song warns.
Overall, this album doesn't break much ground, but it does show another important step in the band's progress towards establishing their own musical voice. Their willingness to blend their hardcore roots with some surprisingly melodic, pop-style choruses shows an ability to evolve that will serve the band well as they tread the challenging independent act path.
Although some of the songs seem a little lacking in the area of musical coherence, there are stand-out moments throughout the album that show the band has got what it takes to keep crafting powerful hard rock pieces. Each of the songs is infused with spiritual urgency, calling hearts to awareness and shattering apathy. This is a good album to empower Christians to move through the heartaches threatening to entangle them and deeper into the powerful light of the kingdom of God.
Song to Download Now:
"This Pain" (Get it on iTunes here
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