A Welcomed Change of Pace
Posted July 24, 2014
By MarcusHathcock_NRT, Staff Reviewer
When you think "Irish worship band," people tend to think about the chart-topping, Jingling Johnny-wielding Northern Irishmen in Rend Collective Experiment.
But plenty is happening in the Church in Ireland, and another expression and outpouring of that is found in exciting, artful newcomers The Remission Flow. Hailing from the rural border town of Monaghan, the band has been together since 2010 and is exploding on the international scene with Rhythms of Grace, an album that can simultaneously serve as the soundtrack for your morning coffee and bring you to the heavenly throne room.
Fans of bands such as Citizens, NEEDTOBREATHE and yes, Rend Collective all will find things to love about The Remission Flow. Lead singer Darren Mulligan has a raspy baritone voice that is a nice change of pace from the lyric tenor-heavy sounds that dominate Christian music and corporate worship music.
I think "change of pace" is the best way to describe this album. People expecting the same old, same old will be surprised not only to find differentiating vocals from the band, but also generally reflective and meditative song structures and instrumentations. The songs, which dance between being non-corporate art and very singable new hymns, definitely lean towards the folk end of things but still have enough of a piano and electric guitar foundation that they don't sound like the prevailing folk-style worship bands of today.
Highlight tracks on the album include "Before the Dawn," which shifts gears from sounding hymnlike in the verses to an almost 1990s-style rock-and-roll chorus. The opening line, "I know that it is darkest just before the dawn / I'll be holding on to You until it comes," immediately caught my attention with its powerfully simplistic message.
The piano-and-vocals opening of "Vast as Oceans" has that NEEDTOBREATHE, Mumford and Sons grit and passionate expression that immediately demands attention. The song's opening refrain contains the album's title: "I wanna live my life in the rhythms of your grace / I wanna feel your touch and a warm embrace / I wanna drink from the well that can never run dry / I wanna feel your heartbeat next to mine." It's probably the most singable song on the album, corporately, as it's catchy and easy to pick up lyrically. There's a big, cinematic bridge that's probably the most memorable moment on the album: "This love is making me whole / Your love is rest for my soul / You have rescued my soul!"
"Trust and Obey" is probably the most energetic song, sonically, and is the album highlight. It's a prayer to God for Him to "take my life, and do with it as You please." Mulligan hits his highest notes here, and gang vocals add an extra dimension to the song. The driving beat and interesting rhythms and chord progressions make this declaration of surrender a victory chant.
Deploying the piano-and-voice arrangement again, closer "It Is Well" presents a creative modern hymn that doesn't sound like the original "It Is Well with My Soul," but certainly was inspired by it. "More Like You" has a smooth female vocal augmenting Mulligan's soaring prayer for God to make him "more like You." An aggressive bass line, atmospheric synths and tribal drums make this song pop out from the pack. "Lay Down," for whatever reason, has a melody line that sounds itchingly familiar.
Rhythms of Grace by The Remission Flow is a fantastic international debut by this promising collective of musicians. Being far removed from the Christian music "industry" has allowed this band to draw from regional influences and experiences from the local church movement, and the music is better for it. People looking for three-minute radio singles aren't going to find that here, but given today's folk-worship tastes, people probably won't (and shouldn't) mind.
If you're looking for the passionate marriage of hymnlike choruses and artful arrangements, this is your band. And given the great production quality of this debut, it's pretty exciting to think where they could go from here.
Song to Download Now:
"Trust and Obey" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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