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The Sound of New Life
Posted April 30, 2015
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer


If you were to sum up the status of one of CCM's most beloved groups in social media terminology, it would probably sound a lot like "it's complicated."

Audio Adrenaline founder and former frontman Mark Stuart brought the band out of retirement back in 2012 with dc Talk alumnus Kevin Max at the wheel and an all-star cast of fellow bandmates to back his soaring vibrato chops, including Superchick's Dave Ghazarian, Bleach's Jared Byers and longtime bassist Will McGinniss returning as the only original member. Allowing fans a brief period to overcome the initial shock, the group released 2013's 5 star smash Kings & Queens. Thus, AA 2.0 was born.

However, it wasn't meant to last.

It happened steadily: one by one, members of the reconstructed group began to come and go with various faces taking their places as time went on. The most devastating blow came in early 2014 when Max announced his departure as lead vocalist after just 16 months. You could appropriately say that their heart was caving in. 

Fast forward 10 months: It's 2015. After a brief stint as the worship band on the Acquire The Fire circuit (with former Abandon lead singer Josh Engler temporarily taking on vocal duties), it was announced that the group has reformed for the third time, introducing us to yet another new cast with no remaining members of the original band in sight. Needless to say, some fans grew frustrated. 

That doubt didn't last very long though. Spirits began to change with the release of the born again Audio A's first single "Love Is Stronger." Hopes steadily grew as those opposed to yet another change started to realize that this new formation could somehow still work. 

Now composed of former Stellar Kart frontman Adam Agee, Wavorly's Dave Stovall and fresh faces Brandon Bagby and Jack Campbell, Audio Adrenaline 3.0 is out to prove that there is still life left in this group with 2015's Sound Of The Saints.

What Works:
With Agee at bat, I initially feared a Stellar Kart copycat where one of the most beloved bands in CCM would be morphed into a punk act (there's nothing wrong with that sound, but it's not Audio Adrenaline). Those nerves subsided as I dove into this album and began to realize that though the edge is definitely there, there is more this four piece than meets the eye. 

"Move" and "Out Of The Fire" are blazing anthems that echo the unique spirit the group set forth all those years ago. Both will be incendiary tracks when performed live and are sure to set off the spark in listeners both old and new. 

Meanwhile, the title track "Sound Of The Saints" turns the tables and proves that this group can also get raw and worshipful: "From the lips of those You've saved, a redemption song will rise / With a sound so full it cracks the skies."

What Doesn't: 
While the first half of the album is full of strong moments both lyrically and melodically, it begins to flatline with some filler tracks as time goes on. There's nothing particularly memorable about the second half of the project, and while it has its moments, if you're like me you'll find yourself going back to repeat the first several tracks again to keep yourself interested.

Closing Thoughts:
I have mixed feelings regarding Sound Of The Saints. While I fully believe in the mission Audio Adrenaline 3.0 is out to tackle, I don't feel confident in this being the strongest material they could have put forth. I feel as if more time spent as a group could have better established their developing sound rather than releasing immediately to maintain momentum. 

Still, there are several bright spots on this project, and each one speaks volumes to what may be to come from this talented group of underdogs.

Song To Download Now:
"Move" (Get it on iTunes here.)

View All Music And Book Reviews By SarahFine_NRT | View SarahFine_NRT's Profile

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