In 2007, Tooth & Nail Records displayed a side of the label that we really hadn't seen before, with the signing of the worship group The Glorious Unseen. Their mellow, ambient debut, Tonight The Stars Speak, was a breath of fresh air to listeners who had been overexposed to the typical worship fare, offering a style and sound unique to the group. They followed it up last year with a seven-song EP, offering five acoustic renditions of songs from their debut as well as two b-sides. With the aim of reaching those in the hardcore and emo scenes (though not just exclusively those), and the recent release of their sampler, the How He Loves EP, The Glorious Unseen is releasing their sophomore project - this time through BEC Recordings - entitled The Hope That Lies In You.
Like the How He Loves EP, "All Around" is the first track for the album, starting it off on strong note. And it really shows no signs of weakness (except for Ben Crist's shaky vocals, which aren't terrible, but are a little rough), with the other two How He Loves tracks within the first five songs, and beautiful songs like "Take What's Left of Me," where vocalist Crist offers all of himself to God ("Will You be my eyes when I cannot see? Will You be my voice when I cannot speak? Will You be my hands when I cannot reach? Father take what's left of me"). Also featured is "We Can Be Renewed," a lovely song that gives the listener a glimpse of hope that renewal is always possible through our Redeemer. "Falling Into You" sings of our imperfection in the midst of our relationship with God ("You call me as Your friend as I break Your heart again, I'm falling into You"). It's a great reminder of God's amazing love for us even as we sit around self-loathing.
A beautiful and melodic instrumental starts the second half of The Hope That Lies In You. It features some great musicianship, including expertly-played drums and a fantastic string section. It's followed by "Sustain," which has an upbeat chorus and starts out by questioning God ("Why do You let evil have its way? How could You let orphans die in vain? When will You give answers for the pain? Is there a place where hope can still sustain?"). The song ends up with Crist recognizing that God is still there though, and that He's still in charge and willing to take our burdens. The song's upbeat ending leads into the slow and somber "Breathe Life Into Me," where Crist displays his desperation and need for God. It's getting harder and harder lately to find a band that can keep a slow song like this one from being boring, but The Glorious Unseen really has no problem at all taking care of that, having the song progress musically as it goes (something that is important in lengthy songs like this album's "Falling Into You" and "Sustain"). "Awakening" reverently asks God if gets tired or fed up with us when we just fail all the time, and then solemnly asks Him to come and take away our pain and fear. A little more than halfway in, the song borrows the "Hallelujah, hallelujah" lines from "Your Promises Still Remain," featured on The Cries of the Broken. Of course, "hallelujah" is a common word in worship songs, but the way Crist sings it (the vocal pattern when he sings it in this song) is the same way he sings it in "Your Promises Still Remain." The title track follows, another upbeat song, with a faster pace on the snare drum than the majority of the rest of the album. It also has an angelic choir harmonizing at the end with the sound of bells chiming as well. The album ends with "Sweet, Sweet Sound," with Crist hoping that his life would be just that - a sweet, sweet sound to God.
The Glorious Unseen is a worship group that I'm hoping will usher in a new breed of worship groups. They've already been accepted by those who were under the assumption that all worship bands sounded the same, and have helped people warm up to the idea that you can incorporate worship into different styles of music and still keep it legit. It's also brought to light other worship groups who are trying to do the same thing, like The Ember Days (a group that we will hopefully hear more from in the near future). The Hope That Lies In You continues toward that growth that is badly longed for and needed in modern worship. Highly recommended for some time of authentic worship with well-written music as its backing.- Review date: 8/22/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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