After forming in 2006, Birmingham, Alabama based group Nine Lashes has seen success in the realm of both mainstream and Christian rock. Riding off the hits of their last album "From Water to War," the group is back with "Ascend." While altering their edgy rock sound, Nine Lashes doesn’t divert from why they sing, nor do their musical capabilities fall entirely into the hole that many other bands fall into when experimenting with their sound.
Lyrically, while catchy at times, the lyrics use a lot of the catchphrases that many CCM artists overuse. Examples can be found on tracks “Deeper” (Take me deeper/Take me deeper than I’ve ever been before); “Eyes on You” (Every moment we set our eyes on You...We will set our eyes on You...We’ll keep our hands held high/You’ve opened up our eyes/So light up the sky); and “Brand New Life.”
The album does show some diversion from previous projects, in that the rock edge is layered more into the background, while the pop-synth and strings are more in the front. Despite that, the vocals of frontman, Jeremy Dunn, retain most of the edge it did on previous projects.
Rhythmically, "Ascend" is tidal, as it roars in with strong electronic beats and flows out with softer melodies, which helps keep the attention of the listener. The hooks are memorable, though repetitive at times, but don’t hold the capacity to grow old too quickly either. While there are those positive aspects, "Ascend" feels like there was a little too much experimentation with genres. While this isn’t necessarily detrimental, it can make the album feel like it’s wandering around a bit. It runs through a contemporary worship sound, while gravitating to a synth-pop sound, then to a slightly edgier sound.
As the band branches out into new territory, and with spring break and summer fast approaching, "Ascend" is released at a good time to make it into vacationers' car radios and headphones. The album holds truths to take in, while infusing fun into the mixes. And while the experimentation of the new sound isn’t terrible, it could have been crafted better. Especially in light of knowing the band’s talent. Overall, "Ascend" is a good release, but feels like a modge podge of different mixes thrown together.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Label: Bec Recordings
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Buy it: Amazon
Eyes on You
Brand New Life
Love Still Shines
Christ in Me