Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we delve into ‘Genesis,’ a new biblical concept album from The Revived, an outfit hailing from Baltimore. Essentially, the extensive collection of songs is a biblical retelling of the main stories in the book of Genesis. Even though the content of the pieces is nonsecular, the band isn’t attempting to convert their listeners. “Whether you’re religious or not, these stories are interesting and can be taken either as fact or a good bit of fiction,” the band explains.
Right off of the bat, I have immense respect for the way The Revived is tackling this endeavor. It isn’t preachy; they aren’t on a mission from God to convert their audience, and they want to connect people from all walks of life with good stories, regardless of whether or not they are religiously invested in them. This approach to religion in entertainment has been utilized to varying degrees of success in recent years with film directors such as Ridley Scott turning to the books of the bible for content. As the band mentions... you don’t have to be a believer to know these stories are well told, and at the very least, compelling.
Onto the music. ‘Genesis’ is a fifteen track record, which is a bold statement on top of a bold statement. The version I received from the band still needs to be tweaked a little; not everything was fully mastered. That said, I found the experience intriguing nonetheless and in honesty, their production is already miles better than the vast majority of the independent scene. Hiccups throughout the album were rare, and I found the tracklist coherent and well organized.
‘This Is A Story’ introduces the band’s sound and the story they’re telling. Vocally and lyrically, I’d align them with a good deal of contemporary Christian music. (Turn on K-Love for a bit if you’re not familiar - This style certainly isn’t anything new. It’s in abundance over there.) Musically, their sound is quite a lot more rock and roll than contemp Christian tunes, though. Songs like the driving ‘Breathe’ and the atmospheric ‘The Fall Before The Fall’ make sure of that.
The beginning of the album starts out the way you’d expect it to. God’s love created the heavens and the earth, the animals and the land, etc. Once you get past that, there’s more depth to the conversation The Revived is having. The beautiful ‘Still Alive,’ for example, provides a soft acoustic flair to the first half of ‘Genesis.’ This is around the point that the music seems to transcend a nonsecular idea.
One of the defining highlights of the first half of the album is ‘Enmity.’ Not only is the lyricism excellent, but musically, this song rocks. It’s also remarkably brief, not even two minutes in length. There’s something about the explosion of passion on this song that breathes new life into first half of ‘Genesis.’
I’m not a particularly religious guy. I grew up in the church, just like these guys, but it has been well over a decade since I dug into these stories. The completely fascinating ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights’ caused me to break out the bible on my shelf. (Probably for the first time since I put it there.) It wasn’t because I was feeling religious, it’s because I wanted to find the story ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights’ was telling. The fact that I was invested enough in this record to actually do that is a complete complement to The Revived, a triumph of their album.
The next story on ‘Genesis’ to really take me by surprise was ‘The Liar, the Hunter, the Blessing.’ Musically, this may be the resolute high point of the album. My goodness, those choruses are so intense. Again, I’m not a religious man, so these stories don’t hold much weight for me. Musically, though, I appreciate The Revived interpretations of them.
In the final few songs of the album, ‘Change My Name’ struck me as a poignant number. The droning piano instrumentation matched elegantly with rising and falling guitars is quite good. It’s a darn long song, but it keeps you fairly enthralled throughout. The positive nature of ‘The Dreamer’ is an excellent ending to the collection as well.
Right, so I’ve blabbed on about how good ‘Genesis’ is. It is a pretty good effort. It isn’t perfect, though. It’s too long and doesn’t take enough creative liberty with its sound. In the two hours I spent with this album, I had trouble differentiating one track from the next. They all sound fairly similar; the vocal style, musical tropes, etc... all sound very similar. To be blunt, it does sound a whole lot like most other contemporary Christian music, and I’ve yet to see a critic accuse many artists in the genre of being overly original. This isn’t a harsh critique - ‘Genesis’ can stand on its own two feet strongly. It is an issue, though, because the album blends into one blur, failing to distinctly showcase an ability to remain interesting throughout.
Aside from that quip, ‘Genesis’ is worth checking out. The stories are decently interesting, certainly enough for someone like myself to enjoy them. If you’re a religious music goer, the album will obviously be much more up your alley. Check it out; it’s worth a look. (It'll also be free upon release, so you don't have much to lose.)