Pillar is finally ready to release their long expected crowd-funded project boasting the classic lineup of Rob, Noah, Lester, and Kalel. Not only is the band back with full force, but they have presented us with one of their best efforts to date: One Love Revolution. This album feels like a natural progression from For the Love of the Game (the last time we heard from this particular lineup), with several nods back to the glory days, most noticeably the Fireproof-style rapping on the title-track and "Paratrooper."
Every member of the band executes their respective parts almost flawlessly. Lead singer Rob Beckley is at the top of the game here, at times sounding better than ever. From the throat shredding screams on the bridge of "We Ride" to the quiet confidence of the ballad "Unafraid," Beckley's voice exuberates with passion and purpose. Lester Estelle has a commanding control of his drum kit, making every kick and drum fill very intentional and powerful. Noah Henson's guitars are just as evocative as the drums with heavy riffs abounding, and versatile airy guitars complementing these meaty riffs on songs like "Paratrooper" and "Disconnect." Rounding out the lineup, Michael "Kalel" Wittig delivers seismic baselines, but the best groove is the more audibly dirty one on album highlight "Embrace The Chaos."
As one might expect, the themes of this album revolve around uniting under the banner of Jesus' love and anthems for spiritual warfare. Their ability to continually create songs with similar messages without ever sounding like a carbon copy of previous songs is alone a testament to the time and thought that went into constructing this album. There are also a few songs that deviate from these themes, such as hearing God's voice on "Disconnect" and dying to self on "Nails." There is little that is thought-provoking here, but the simplicity and directness of the songwriting is refreshing.
While the majority of the album is rock solid, there are a couple weaker moments on One Love Revolution. "Ember of Hope" doesn't compare to some of Pillar's other interludes like "Elysian" or the one at the end of "One Thing." It doesn't break up the album's pacing, but it seems a little disjointed in a few spots. Another criticism is the black sheep "More Alive," which is a good CHR tune, but it fits on this album about as well as "Smiling Down" did on For The Love of the Game.
There are two bonus tracks on this album, but they are each exclusive to the physical and digital versions. The physical CD, which is only being released through Lifeway, has the bonus track "Fall The Foe," while the digital version (iTunes, Amazon) has the bonus track "A Season." Both are exceptional cuts that fit sonically and thematically with the rest of the album, so if you can't get enough of the band's in-your-face rock tunes, then you will want to get your hands on both. The easiest solution would be to buy the physical edition through Lifeway and buy the individual mp3 for "A Season" (if it is not "album only").
When listening to One Love Revolution, it's hard not to think about how missed these guys have been in the Christian rock scene. Though this album is not quite as defining as their magnum opus Where Do We Go From Here, it has a certain timeless quality about it. Pillar fans and fans of the genre can't go wrong picking up the latest release from one of Christian rocks biggest staples.- Full review: 8/16/15; Preview Review date: 8/5/15, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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