In the early 2000's, Gabriel Martinez and his band released two albums in the independent music realm before signing a deal with Centricity Records. Martinez then stopped going by his name and changed the band name to Circleslide, and went on to release four albums (only one full-length studio album, though). Nearly a decade since Martinez's Through These Thorns comes Circleslide's next full-length pop rock album, Echoes of the Light.
The term "echoes of the light" is a reference to all of humanity, as Jesus is the light and we are created in His image. It's a fairly interesting way to look at things. Unfortunately, the title and a sweet guitar solo in the song "Samson" are the only really interesting things about the album. While Circleslide is comprised of talented musicians, their new tunes are boring and just overdone. They explore several different styles from start to finish (ie, "The Litany" sounds vaguely like U2 and a lot like Fono; "Gone" resembles bands like The Afters and The Fray; and "The Turning" is a dead ringer for a Hillsong worship anthem). They do pretty well in the music's construction, but it's the fact that it's unoriginal and that the lyrics feel like they came out of some "how to write a Christian pop song" manual that makes Echoes of the Light what it is: standard. It's hard to deny that the songs have meaning, but it's also one of many cases where meaning gets lost in redundancy. More and more bands giving listeners the same thing over and over again gets old real quick. So when "The Turning" starts with a driving bass drum, anthemic guitar and chanting, then hits the chorus singing "Across the land, sorrow becomes a dance, brothers are reconciled, do you feel your heart revived, oh this is the turning" (and uses Christianese phrases like "the Spirit is in motion" and "the year of retribution"), it gets old real quick. Not all of Echoes of the Light is Hillsong-like in nature, but all of it has been done before, and much better.
Sadly, Echoes of the Light plays out more like what Christian music fans have come to expect from modern contemporary Christian artists instead of what fans are longing for (or what the fans need). It's more of the same standard pop rock with blase lyrics that aim for the safe zone instead of branching out and trying something at least halfway experimental. Yes, we will always need bands that minister to the Church, and Circleslide is definitely shooting for that position, but the Church can't keep surviving on milk (or typical music with no depth or challenge to it). We need meat, and frankly, this is something that Circleslide is not offering. I think they have it in them, though, so maybe by the next album they can step it up substantially.- Review date: 9/23/10, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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