If you are considering the bands that pioneered the Christian rock genre, then chances are Petra will be one of the bands that first come to mind. And why shouldn't they? There are so many classic songs by them that have defined this genre to be what it is today. The band has a lot of great albums under their belt. Unseen Power is one that shouldn't be overlooked because, despite its flaws, there are a lot of gems on this album that deserve praise.
"Destiny" is right up there with any classic Petra song, including some powerful scripture based lyrics, "When you gonna see you're meant to be / You're chosen out of history / No one else can take your place / The one and only in the human race." Those lyrics are inspiring and powerful to God's truth. This track also has an awesome driving rock feel. John Schlitt's vocals and Bob Hartman's guitar work are as powerful as ever. "Who's On the Lord's Side" and "Ready, Willing, and Able" are both great rock songs in their own right, with the former having a catchy rock/gospel feel, and the latter being a more intense track for this band. "I Need To Hear From You" is a sincere ballad where John is asking God to answer his prayers; you can feel the emotion coming from him. Easily the best track of the album comes in "Sight Unseen," which has a memorable guitar riff, as well as clever lyricism to discuss how believing is actually seeing, "Was always a crutch on which others must lean / Thinking if I could see I would believe / Then somebody said believe and you will see." Other tracks that deserve mention is the Petra classic "Dance," which is a pure fun pump-up anthem, and the emotive "Hey World," which gives compelling and inspiring stories about people who choose life over death.
This album is definitely not without its problems, as it is not one of Petra's strongest albums out there. "Secret Weapon" feels like a cheesy youth group anthem, with the message of prayer not being particularly subtle. It feels way too in your face, unlike most other Petra songs. "Hand on My Heart," to me, is musically the weakest song Petra has made. John utilizes some falsettos in the song, and it just doesn't sound good. The song feels too long because I couldn't get past how annoyed I was by his singing style. "In The Likeness of You" is a ballad that meanders on way too long. The lyrics are sincere enough (John desires to be as much like God as he can be), but every time I hear the song, the message is lost in the midst the forgettable musicianship. John sounds unenthusiastic in the way he's singing, and the drumming and guitar work are cliched.
Unseen Power definitely isn't without its flaws, but I do feel like this album is severely underrated. Songs like "Destiny" and "Sight Unseen" feel like they are right up there with any other classic Petra song. I also appreciate this album for having a bit more of an intense rock vibe than some of their other albums. This album deserves at least one listen, and if this is the first time you're hearing Petra, then you need to go and check out their other records as well!
Review date: 1/28/17, written by James Southworth for Jesusfreakhideout.com