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Screaming Against the Shadows
Posted February 12, 2016
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

There are occasional key voices who are seemingly divinely placed in the right corner of culture at the right time to speak desperately needed truths. Lacey Sturm is one such voice.

The hard rock vocalist worked tirelessly in her role with Flyleaf to carry messages of life to the most desperate hearts through her powerful screams and even more powerful testimony. Although it's been over three years since Lacey stepped down from Flyleaf and her vocals were last heard, she hasn't been silent in the time intervening. Her first book, The Reason: How I Discovered A Life Worth Living, told her story and spoke to a generation in a whole new way.

Lacey's debut solo album Life Screams could in many ways be the soundtrack to the story told in that book. The songs walk through the place of soul-searing emptiness that comes from tasting all the beautiful vices the world has to offer and coming up empty, leading towards an encounter with a God who satisfies every empty place in our spirit with His unbreakable love. Lead single "Impossible" encapsulates this message, ecstatic screams declaring that even the breath in our lungs is a sign and a wonder from God, proof of His grace.

One of the first questions of longtime listeners is likely to be whether or not Lacey carried the heavy sound in early Flyleaf projects to this new venture. The first few tracks immediately answer that question with rich, grungy guitar riffs and otherworldly screams. Songs like "I'm Not Laughing" (with its cleverly grating, half-mocking guitar riff) and the haunting "Rot" (complete with a chilling conversational intro found in "Vanity") explore the empty places of this world with a raw honesty that cuts to the core. "Feels Like Forever" captures the collision of those dark places with the blinding light of God's holiness and redemptive love.

Heartfelt "Not Alone" is another album highlight, expressing through a soaring melody the truth that although human hearts will never be enough to save each other, we can point each other towards the eternal Love that can. "Life Screams" and "Faith" take a softer tone both musically and thematically as they display the joy of walking in divine light.

The fact that the album is largely structured to move from the dark, heavy tracks into songs of restoration and life creates an internal narrative that draws the listener in from beginning to end-- a rare feat for an album in a world increasingly fixed on singles. The only moment that feels like it deviates slightly from this story is a poignant live cover of The Police's "Roxanne," reimagined with redemptive lyrics.

The Bottom Line: With Lacey Sturm's Life Screams, the first major rock release of the year may also be the best. Deeply satisfying gritty guitar, chilling vocals and lyrics that speak hope into places of absolute desperation make Life Screams a vital addition to the rock genre, and to a world desperately needing to hear there is Life screaming in even the darkest places.

Song to Download Now:
"Impossible" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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