If worship is our adoration of God expressed through our personalities and life, Rend Collective certainly knows how to interweave their cultural heritage and their Godly passion with their unique brand of worship. While many of their peers are quick to camouflage their ethnic aestheticism in an effort to blend in, Rend Collective have always chartered on their uniqueness viz a viz their Irish roots. And can you be more Irish than to release your new album "The Art of Celebration" on St. Patrick's Day? Just like their previous efforts, they have brought out their "arsenal of weird, wonderful and whimsical" instruments to add texture and color to these set of 11 newly written songs. Thus, what you will hear on this collection is a polymorphic sound of raw, acoustic, Irish slanted party rompers as well as the plodding synth-driven grooves of today's contemporary worship.
Despite truncating their name from "Rend Collective Experiment" to the more economical "Rend Collective," they have never curtailed the lyrical impact of the songs. Huddled around the theme of "making a joyful noise to the Lord," album opener "Joy" starts off the proceedings. "Joy" is a sonic canvas where the colors of Rend Collective's influences converge. The silhouettes of distant Celtic rhythms and the splattering of ukulele-sounding instruments prodding in the foreground remind us of Psalm 150 where the Psalmist would bring out instruments of all kinds to worship God. If you are a worship leader looking for a bright anthemic song to begin your worship segment with, look no further than "Burn Like Stars." Here Rend Collective certainly flexes ther mettle to take a simple concept like how God believes in each of us and turning it into an epic drama. Pay carefully attention especially to the chorus where all the backing ceased. And all we hear are the raw and haunting vocals of Gareth Gilkeson worshipping; here you know you have entered God's Holy presence.
Anyone who is at the throes of drowning in our oceans of trials knows that sometimes it's even a challenge to stay afloat. Yet, with "My Lighthouse," Rend Experiment reminds us that not only will we not drown but we can have the strength to shine in our troubled sea by relying on God's grace. Fans who have got cozy with the campfire warmth of their last record, will quickly warm up with the acoustic guitar driven 70s sounding 'Finally Free." "Create in Me" really time warps back to the 1970s where Rend Experiment re-tools Keith Green's "Create in Me a Clean Heart" with an extended melody and lyrical constructions. "Immeasurably More," albeit disappointingly, finds the team reverting to synth-driven worship balladry. Though "Immeasurably More" is passable, it somehow strips the team of their unique sound.
"Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration)" is an appropriate ballad to close off the record. While many of the songs speak of the need to celebrate even in times when our lives are not working the ways we hope, "Boldly I Approach" unlocks the key as to how we can still make a "joyful noise" to God. With the simplicity of the guitar, Rend Experiment reminds us that even in our sufferings we have a Savior who intercedes for us. Merciful are his ways and graciousness mark his administrations. One cannot think of a better way to end a record than this.