Setting Souls Free
Posted October 01, 2014
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Although Remedy Drive is anything but new to the business of rock and roll, the new mission the band has adopted over the past years gives them a transformative vigor and intensity that brings a new edge to their music.
In the gap between last project Resuscitate and new release Commodity, lead singer and founding member David Zach began investing some of his time in the counter-trafficking efforts of The Exodus Road. Zach was quickly gripped by the compelling reality of slavery, of the struggle of light against dark occurring all over the world (often without the western church's knowledge or acknowledgement). Eventually, Zach himself spent time overseas working undercover with The Exodus Road, lending a hand as they moved towards freeing those enslaved.
Commodity was funded via kickstarter, and breathed into being as the band's new mission statement. With experiences so vitally important to the story of the human race serving as the backdrop, it's not surprising that for these songs the band would give their all, imbuing every note with fresh perspective on what really matters. Philip Zach, one of the three Zach brothers who formerly composed Remedy Drive with David, also returned to aid in the creative process for the first time since 2008's Daylight is Coming.
This is a collection of songs with a bite, full of urgency and musical grit. Title track "Commodity" is a good example of this, capturing the album's thesis with the phrase "I'm a soul inside a body, I'm not a commodity." This song declares the humanity of the marginalized, the incalculable value of those so frequently cast away.
"Under the Starlight" is an activist's anthem, exploring how small we can frequently feel in the face of big problems with a Muse-esque musical chemistry created by piano blended with buzzing electronics and a chorus utilizing the high end of Zach's range. "Love Is Our Weapon" displays similar grimy guitar laid down by Dave Mohr and flawless falsetto in its stirring bridge.
Although there's definitely a lot of musical edge here (see "The Wings of the Dawn," with verses spit in a pseudo-rap over a chilling blend of piano and a children's choir), there are softer textures here as well. "Cool of the Day" imagines a world pre-fall, pre-loss of innocence, with atmospheric instrumentation feeding the searching words "what was it like before this paradise was drowned in sand dunes?"
"When A Soul's Set Free" is another gentler track, built from a slow and sweet string section, describing the heavenly celebration when a soul is set free (a message that is quite literal in the case of Remedy Drive's current work, but that connects conceptually to any who are needing freedom). The song is given an edge by new drummer Tim Buell's rock solid beat.
Lyrically, David Zach has always been inclined towards the poetic and parabolic. His style is at its best yet here, employing imagery and analogies that draw the listener deep into the concepts expressed. "Throne" exemplifies this with the soul drawing lyrics "prisoners of hope, return to your strongholds / the king is still / the king is still on the throne."
Commodity is a concept album, and should be heard as such. It sets out on a mission to embody the concepts of freedom for the victimized and oppressed, the urgency born of recognizing the reality of a need for redemption. It is overwhelmingly to the band's credit that they manage to capture these concepts without ever seeming emotionally manipulative or false. By the end of the album, it's near impossible to ignore the cry of the captives.
The moody, musical grit blended beautifully with Remedy Drive's signature piano helps lend emotional weight to the mission. There is an undercurrent, something slightly foreign in the musical tone, that proves that the streets of Thailand left their mark on David Zach musically as well. All of this proves to form what is, in my opinion, the best album of Remedy Drive's career, in every area.
The music is only the beginning of the conversation. To learn more about human trafficking and how you can help, please visit theexodusroad.com.
Song to Download Now:
"Under the Starlight" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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