￼Love Prevails. It's more than a motto fueling Abandon's Justin Engler, Stevan Vela and Ben Vela, it's the soundtrack of a triumph, the heralding of a new season. Amidst an amalgamation of sweeping electro flourishes, anthemic guitar hooks and soaring melodies, Love Prevails-- the band's third studio recording--resounds with hard-won Hope and determination. It also represents the passing of the baton between the brothers Engler, a natural progression.
Together, Justin and Josh Engler saw the San Antonio-based Abandon-- originally formed as a quintet--earn a GMA Dove Award nomination and high- profile touring slots with such acts as Fireflight, Building 429, Remedy Drive, and Teen Mania's "Acquire The Fire," among other milestones. Following the success of their Top 5 CHR breakout single and signature anthem, "Hero," the group's "Live It Out" was featured on ESPN's 2011 ESPY Awards as well as The Food Network's popular "Food Network Challenge," while "Feel It In Your Heart" went Top 5 CHR and "Providence" was a Top 10 Rock hit. With two ForeFront full- length studio recordings under their belt, Searchlights (2009) and Control (2011), Abandon earned a well-respected rank among the top rock acts in Christian musiic.
After three years, Love Prevails reveals a new Abandon with a refreshing response to a season of evolution. Justin takes centerstage on lead vocals, while Josh--who recently exited the group to join Audio Adrenaline as frontman-- leaves his songwriting influence on several tracks. In keeping with the family theme, Stevan's brother Ben steps into the band as drummer. Together, the trio guides Abandon into a new era and a highly-anticipated recording handily funded by the group's fanbase.
"I think the Kickstarter campaign was our fleece to God," says Justin. "It was almost as if we needed a tangible sign that we should continue." Abandon's community of fans spoke in unison, with donations surpassing the band's initial recording goal of $25,000.
"Everything was turned upside down," Justin reflects of the group's changes, both visibly and behind the scenes. "Everything we were comfortable with was shaken out. It was a real testing time for us; we had to ask the question, 'Is this season of our lives over? Has God closed the door?'"
"We couldn't escape the statement of Control as we wrote for the new album," Stevan says. "We had to come at this project focusing everything we had on God--was He really still in control? Were we going to let Love win, or were we going to hold on to the bitterness, the anger, the disappointment? At the end of the day, what defines us as believers is our trust in Love's ability to transcend these things."
Songs like stadium-ready anthem "Warrior" represent the band's new outlook; a David-and-Goliath battle for what's important, with Justin declaring "faith comes from more than my eyes." Lead single "It Was Love," co-written with acclaimed Nashville songwriters Phillip LaRue and Allen Salmon, sees the band revisit Christ's ultimate act of devotion. "We wanted to paint a different picture of Jesus on the cross, holding back the heavens because of His love for us," says Justin. "It wasn't the nails that held Him to the cross, it was love."
Beyond the studio, Abandon continues to tour with The Emerge Experience, a program taking them into high schools across the country, offering the Life-giving Gospel in the guise of a rock show. It's from this stage the band is determined to share a message as important as it is universal.
"We want to present this Love to the masses, to anybody who will listen," enthuses Stevan. "We go into schools and have kids come up to us and tell us that they were going to commit suicide that day--the letters were written, the decision made. We're given a chance to let people know they have a purpose, that God hasn't given up on them, that He loves them and will work all things for good. That's a message we can share from experience."
History proves the best laid plans are almost always disrupted when the message of the Gospel is at stake--something Justin, Stevan and Ben have experienced firsthand. After a season of change and uncertainty, the members of Abandon are standing strong together, letting go, and in the process, seeing just how Love Prevails.