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Raw and Honest Christian Rock
Posted October 30, 2017
By jaysmusikblog, Staff Reviewer

In 2011, Christian rock group Ashes Remain burst into the broader music scene with their album What I've Become. The solid album boasted a handful of chart-topping singles, which were a mix between grunge rock and heart-felt worship. A long six years later, the band has finally released their sophomore album, titled Let the Light In, with BEC Recordings. It seems evident that Ashes Remain has been through many trials in their intermission. This has shaped their latest album, themed with honest songs about struggles and addiction, as well as the answer to them all: Jesus. 

Opening track "Rise," sure to appease fans of their previous album, steadily builds with grunge guitars and pounding drums. Catchy lead guitar solos also season the track. Its message is no less powerful: no matter how cold the world around us grows, the fire of God can burn brighter in us, causing us to rise out of the ashes. Along the same thematic line with the surprising addition of saxophone follows "On Fire," which speaks of leaving the past behind and running forward in freedom.

The strong but more worshipful "All of Me" (similar to "Without You") passionately declares how our all-sufficient God wants all of us, including our struggles. The single boasts of lead singer Josh Smith's full vocals, as well as the band's excellent songwriting: "you are my faith, you are my doubt / the things I don't wanna talk about / all that's broken, healed, and somewhere in between." Following solemnly is my personal favorite track "Always Faithful," which again crosses the rock/worship barrier. Mixed in with all of Ashes Remain's honest lyrics about addictions and struggles, this highlight on the album focuses straight on the heart of Jesus, who will always be the answer.

Blaring guitars and vocal screams return with "Six Feet Down," a battle cry lyrically based on the history of the Alamo. "Greater Things" again finds the band on an earnest note, exploring how we can change the world through the smallest acts of love: "One spark can start a fire / One drop begins a flood / As small as they seem, these are the greater things."  

Tackling addiction, "Captain" states "I've been down to the bottom, drowning in a bottle." The song not only features awesome lead guitar work, but also features a rare appearance of rhythm guitarist Ryan Nalepa on supporting vocals. "Criminal" explores how Jesus, though an innocent man, died like a criminal, and how we are all called to follow Him ("to follow You must be criminal"). 

Closing Let the Light In are two mellow tracks: the string-infested "Follow" beautifully describes complete surrender to God, and the romantic "All I Need" explores the depth of commitment in marriage and how that love sustains through the darkest times of life. 

The Bottom Line: Ashes Remain has delivered a sophomore project that lives up to the expectation of their fans. The heavy rock blends impressively with touching worship, but the band's highlight is their honesty. While they openly admit their struggles and doubts, they also turn the listener's attention to the answer to everything: Jesus Christ. 

For Fans Of: Decyfer Down, RED, Kutless

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

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