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Until We Have Faces
Artist: Red
Label: Essential Records
Time: 11 Tracks / 46 minutes
Compared with some Christian releases that sing of huge eternal themes, but do so with less passion than if ringing through a pizza order, this project oozes energy and (sometimes literally) screams urgency.

Huge production makes the most of a strong song like “Feed the Machine.” One of their hardest to date, singer Michael Barnes growls, sings and screams through it, but it ends with choral voices and strings. At other times, organ, strings or bells lift the sound to something more widescreen.

But it’s not just studio frills. These songs can inhabit your brain and welcome you back when the disc comes round to a repeat play.

Nu metal is not the most innovative genre and some tracks feel like others you have already heard, but one track stands out as lacking the integrity of the rest. “Not Alone” has the feel of a metal ballad with formulaic structure, big strings, digital drums, a glottal-gasp vocal and God-is-a-big-pillow lyrics (aimed squarely at Christian radio by chance?).

As the title suggests, the album is inspired by C. S. Lewis’s book of a similar name and it explores the idea that we can’t fully embrace what God offers until we know who we really are.

The key track “Faceless,” (“We are the hopeless until we have faces”) asks the listener to recognise the hollow person that the world tries to mould us into and deal with that situation, while the aching, conversational “Let it Burn” is about breaking down these false ideas about identity. It sums up the early tracks that deal with brokenness.

“Buried Beneath” is the turning point that leads to a sense of building up: “My eyes have adjusted to dark and so has my heart / The weight of the world has covered me… Can anyone hear me calling out? / I'm finally breaking / So where are you now? / It's been such a long time that I've tried to live without... So reach down and pull me out before I am buried beneath.”

As the album reaches its conclusion, we get songs like “Who We Are,” a stirring, inspiring celebration of identity, and the anthem “Best is Yet to Come.”

Until We Have Faces is a powerful and purposeful collection that offers intellectual meat, gut-level guitar, impassioned vocals and tunes that live on after the player stops.

Download: Feed the Machine, Who We Are, Best is Yet to Come.

Derek Walker


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