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Reborn and Radiant
Posted March 31, 2016
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

It's been a slow build towards recognition for Ilia, but initial sparks of success are increasingly coalescing into a bonfire of passionate, purpose-driven rock and roll. After seven years of earning their stripes through live shows and initial recordings, the Arkansas-based band went through a rebirth with a new lineup in 2014. The resulting EP was suitably titled Reborn, kicking off a new era for the band.

From opening track "As Winter Stays," it's clear that this incarnation of Ilia has captured a musical chemistry that promises to withstand the test of time. In a world increasingly fixated on electronic sonicscapes, it's refreshing to hear an EP so unapologetically guitar-driven from the opening track on (courtesy of guitarists Justin Patterson and Ben Flora). "Loving Led" shows off a slightly more pop melody, but with a strong guitar presence that reminds of the pop rock of the early to mid-2000s-- a sound Ilia pulls off while still sounding fresh.

Thematically, Ilia operates from a core of hope centered on the redemption of Jesus Christ. "God Disguised" passionately declares "hope, I'll be yours always / I'll be yours always starting today. / Love, I'll be yours always / I'll be yours always, starting today." Poignant "My Allegiance" carries similar statements of dedication and surrender to perfect love, carried by Suzy Martinez's vocals which range from smooth and expressive to fiery screams.

There's also an unusual lyrical complexity found in their lyrics, as standout track "Young Diaries" exemplifies. The confessional song is a desperate cry for God to redeem a wandering heart, backed by a searing melody and hefty guitar hooks: "Oh God, so carelessly I have been drawn from your arms / Carry me to your graceful place that vengeance just can't replace."

The Bottom Line: Ilia perfectly blends guitar-driven rock and roll with just a hint of melodic pop to create a refreshing, hope-filled EP. Reborn proves that Ilia has found their footing, and the future is nothing but bright for this band.

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

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