For their fifth studio recording, World on Fire, By The Tree returns with a much different lineup than their previous album. Lead singer and guitarist Chuck Dennie mysteriously bowed out of the band, forcing drummer Aaron Blanton to move up to guitar and vocals, and therefore creating nearly a new band… in theory.
While some of the band's original charm is indeed lost with the member switch, oddly enough, the sound seems to be incredibly similar. In comparison, Blanton's voice is remarkably like By The Tree's previous singer. Stylewise, the band maintains its spiritually fueled rock sound, and the combination ends up sounding something like Matchbox Twenty or Jimmy Eat World.
World On Fire begins with the upbeat "All Around You" and "I Will Follow You," both of which sound quite alike and really aren't anything special, though remain good listens. However, the title track shows a newer side of By The Tree, which was showcased in their previous worship album- a more worshipful, acoustic side. This sound is fresh and clean, and is just what the album needs to mix up the style a bit.
The album picks up with "Perfect," which is a tastefully performed power rock song, then slows back down on the worship ballad "You Are My Desire." Again, the acoustic worship element to By The Tree's style seem to be their best point. Other songs of note include a cover of Delirious's "Rain Down," "Still Believe" (whose lyrics are from the viewpoint of Peter the disciple), and "That's Why We Say," another one fine worship song.
Throughout the album, elements of both rock and worship permeate the mix. Although it's debatable, By The Tree's best side resounds through their acoustic ballads. Sure, songs like "Shine" rock the album, but the edgier tracks tend to run together. However, when you hear the acoustic guitar on this disc, you know that song is going to be a good one.
Great songwriting and special melodies have always been a part of By The Tree's reputation as a band, and World On Fire is no different.- Review date: 11/10/07, written by Garrett DeRossett
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