In 1989, a moderately successful rock band called White Heart, already on their third lead singer, teamed up with producer Brown Bannister to create the band's sixth record, called Freedom. It is now often recognized among Christian rock fans as one of the greatest Christian rock records of all time.
The album opens with a synthesized sound like the path of a bullet tearing through the speakers. The sound grows and then the guitars, drums, and bass take over. Already the album is crunchier and heavier than anything White Heart had ever attempted before. And it rarely lets up until the final song--a lovely, heart-wrenching acoustic guitar number called "I'll Meet You There." Rick Florian's clear, soaring voice (and occasional scream) is one of the standout features throughout the project, as well as Chris McHugh's big drums and Tommy Sims' grooving bass lines. Loud, creative guitar leads (courtesy Gordon Kennedy and Billy Smiley) keep things exciting throughout the record, and the occasional harmony vocal from keyboardist and songwriter Mark Gershmehl adds almost an ethereal loveliness to songs like "Over Me," "The River Will Flow," and "I'll Meet You There."
In addition to the musicianship and production, the songwriting also took a significant step up from their previous records. The band delves into the theme of freedom ("Sing Your Freedom," "Let It Go," "Set The Bridge On Fire"), but it also discusses resting in God's peace ("The River Will Flow"), surrendering our own desires to God's will ("Let The Kingdom Come"), and the struggle of realizing God really loves us ("Eighth Wonder").
There's really not much to criticize on this album (other than its very limited availability today). One could argue that "Power Tools" is a bit over-the-top in its execution, and "The River Will Flow" could definitely be about three minutes shorter. And there will always be those people who think anything with a synthesizer anywhere within a three-mile radius is "dated," but all-in-all, this is arguably the best record created by one of the best pioneering rock outfits in Christian music history.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 2/21/17, written by Sarah Issler for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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