Prime Cuts: Free as a Bird, Every Giant Will Fall, Never Walk Alone
One of the greatest compliment any critic could ever pay is when he or she is lost for vocabulary to describe the artist's sound. This is the case for Rend Collective. Ever since their Integrity Music released "Homemade Worship by Handmade People," this Northern Irish worship team has carved out a patented niche as far as worship music is concerned. Interweaving their Celtic roots with elements of nu-folk that recalls Mumford and Sons, there's a tinge of sepia tone of nostalgic warmth that they have varnished with their sound that truly puts them in a class of their own. After a slew of albums with Integrity Music, for album #5, Rend Collective has partnered with Capitol Christian Distribution for what is their most anticipated release after 2013's "The Art of Celebration."
Despite its titular "As Family We Go," which suggests a warm and a more intimate sound, this is their least folk-leaning album. Though they have not entirely abandoned their nu-folk template, the sounds of shuddering rock guitars and heavy-set percussions are also heightened to a new peak. This is pretty unfortunate as such a sonic evolution will only turn them into a Xerox copy of the countless worship bands out there. Nevertheless, there are still some redeeming moments. "Free as a Bird" still abides to their patented sound with a flush of adrenaline that recalls "Burn Like a Star" from their previous album. Recalling Matt Redman's "Never Once," "Never Walk Alone," likewise, is a stripped down affair where God's abiding presence in our troubled times is given a touching and glowing makeover.
Using Scripture as the lyrical template of worship songs is nothing new. But few are the songs that use the narrative passages of Scripture to such a great impact as Rend Collective's "Every Giant Will Fall." The story of David and Goliath has never had such a reforming effect on our faith as this paean. "The Artist," an ode to the creative works of God, relaxes all protocols revealing an endearing side of the team. "One and Only," on the other, meanders along without having much of a hook. While tracks like "Celebrate," "Joy of the Lord," and "Your Royal Blood" fall more into the glossy and slick pop-rock worship fare without giving us much to shout about.
"As Family We Go" does suffer a tad from kowtowing to the latest rock-worship driven trend that somehow tapers down their unique sound. But there are still enough songs here that bear the Rend Collective indescribable nu-folk imprint we have all come to love.