Listen to the new album from Elias Dummer!
Listen to the new album from Elias Dummer!

JFH Staff Review




The Listening
The Rock N Roll Worship Circus Becomes The Listening



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 2 Discs, 14 tracks
Street Date: November 15, 2005 / February 14, 2006


In 2003, the Rock N Roll Worship Circus experienced a season of change when a few member shuffles lead to a shift in style and focus for the modern worship act. Last Summer, the classic rock quartet released the impressive The Listening EP, already displaying a major change in musical and lyrical songwriting. The music took a more emotional turn and explored a darker side, all the while stretching the band's artistic boundaries. 2005 marks the next step in the band's evolution, as a name change and further stylistic shift occurs with their latest release.

Aptly titled, The Rock N Roll Worship Circus Becomes The Listening picks up where The Listening EP left off, but solidifies the shift from a more worship-focused writing style to a more meditative approach. "The Listening" proves to be an ideal choice for a new moniker, as the songs' more subdued and atmospheric style strays a great distance from the inviting, interactive worship stylings of the former band's music. The album opens with "Glory Of The Feared," one of the few worshipfully-written tracks included. The band's stylistic changes are noticeable immediately and are likely to surprise some longtime fans. But it's after repeated listens that these songs really start to come alive. "Triple Fascination" is a song the band has performed live for a year and a half now, serving as one of the album's many highlights as the writer revels in the wonder of the Trinity. "Be In Your Eyes" is a love song from the Father to one of His children who wants to be a part of their life once again. The almost melancholic feel of the album's songs fuses the messages with a greater sense of urgency or, in this song's case, heartache. Gabriel Wilson's soft vocals play off as sort of a still small voice as the Lord laments, "I want to be in your eyes again / wanna be in your eyes and then / press my lips upon your skin / breathe the air you're breathing..."

"Hosea In CMinor" is a six-minute musical tour de force that features some of the album's strongest moments. The instrumental "Prelude" drifts into "Hosea," an emotionally moving song that, much like "Be In Your Eyes," is told from our Heavenly Father's perspective. "Are We Listening?" and "(Untitled)" are pulled from last year's independently release EP, finding a new home amongst its first national release. The song is a nice inclusion but feels strikingly more upbeat than the rest of the new material. "The Factory" is one of the darkest songs on the record, utilizing a standout drum beat and Wilson's haunting vocals to aid in the painting of a metaphorical picture about evangelism. The album ends on a mellow note, first with the sorrowful "Lovely Red Lights," written for the people of Amsterdam, and closing with the beautiful meditation on love, "Everything Is Nothing."

One thing that stands out about The Listening's sound when comparing it to the previous works of The Rock N Roll Worship Circus, is that the joy found in those songs is absent from the new recordings. But there's something special and unique about this batch of songs. The Listening takes a new approach seldom seen in Christian music and covers topics seldom discussed in a very impacting. If anything, the songs are more convicting than ever before.

The only thing The Rock N Roll Worship Circus Becomes... may suffer from is a sense of sameness from track to track. The Listening EP was rather diverse as it took the listener through its short but tight six-song composition. This record starts off on a melodic and melancholic tone that continues to the end, only being slightly interrupted by "{Untitled)" from the previous record. At first listen, it seemed to pose a serious problem, but after some time, the songs began to separate and speak greater volumes on their own.

The Listening is arguably a bold and somewhat risky move for the boys from Washington State. Their new name and sound should take the band in directions they previously couldn't venture in. But as these guys continue to push the envelope of the artistry of Christians making music, it's a project like this that only makes me all that more excited about what we're apart of. So to answer a question proposed by the band on this and their previous effort, Yes! I'm listening... and you should too.

- Review date: 11/13/05, written by John DiBiase

 


. Artist Info: Discography
. Record Label: (independent)
. Album length: 2 Discs, 14 tracks
. Street Date: November 15, 2005 (independently) / February 14, 2006 (nationally)
. Buy It: Amazon.com


  1. Glory Of The Feared
  2. Triple Fascination
  3. Be in Your Eyes
  4. When the Idol Dies
  5. Prelude in C Minor
  6. Hosea in C Minor
  7. Are we Listening?
  8. (Untitled)
  9. The Factory
  10. Lovely Red Lights
  11. Everything is Nothing
Bonus Disc
  1. Isaiah
  2. The Undiscovered (2005)
  3. If You Don't Know Where it is You've Gone
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