Rend Collective are back with a new album, their fourth ‘studio’ album and they are showing no signs of running out of ideas or passion. The title As Family We Go (released 21/8/15) reflects the fact that since Rend Collective started there have been several band weddings and babies and also the fact that they see themselves not as a band in the spotlight on the stage but as part of the family of worshipers that we are all called to be part of. Reassuringly, despite often being compared to a Christian Mumford and Sons there has been now move to electric guitars here and the familiar folk-rock revival worship style Christian hipsters have come to love is here to be enjoyed again.
It starts off with the high energy worship-song-on-Red-Bull Celebrate which is a call to celebrate in praise God in all times and all situations, a call to “sing it out loud, sing it out strong” and really sets the tone for the album. Rend have always been a band with an emphasis on celebrating, and there is a very evident joy that comes through all the songs on this album. Another thing Rend are known for is the creative, imaginative poetry of their lyrics, which not only are full of depth and passion but also free of clichés often found in worship music. Free as a bird is a great example of this, celebrating the fact that God’s ‘lion heart’ is alive in us, freeing us ‘to dance upon our chains’ and also reminds us we were made for more, we were made for God’s kingdom.
You will never run away has a great contagious chorus that reminds us that God never runs away and is forever by our side and while full of energy is remixed as a bonus track at the end of the album with added beats.
The pace slows slightly with the start of Every Giant Will Fall but it soon builds back as the song provides a powerful reminder that God has broken every “chain of the past” and that “nothing is impossible” with Him, and is an anthemic song that has the potential to become a worship regular at churches across the land. Things do get slower and more reflective during the song One and Only which is a brilliant heartfelt prayerful song of praise to Jesus and a pledge of dedication of our lives to Him and Him alone.
Two themes that run through this album are that God has broken the chains of sin and that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and another anthemic song Joy of the Lord celebrates who because of the joy we have in the Lord we can dance in the darkness and sing in the shadows of life and in is a powerful reminder that when sorrow comes our way Jesus is the one who calls our name.
Your Royal Blood is a reworking of Nothing but the Blood with some updated lyrics, a new chorus section about how Jesus’ blood will never lose its power and is a departure from the usual style of the album, with more of a blues feel, and while it sticks out amongst the rest of the album it works well.
Just a Glimpse picks the pace up again with the reminder that we can’t do this without Jesus and is another personal song, reminding the soul how much we need Jesus and pleading for more of Him in our life. Coming Home has a real foot tapping folk feel with an excited anticipation to coming home to God in heaven for He is where we belong.
The album ends with another high energy poetic song The Artist which reminds us that we are a canvas that Jesus uses to make His masterpiece, taking all our brokenness and making it shine, and has a great simple chorus that just begs to be sang along to loudly and is one of my favourite songs on the album.
This is an album full of theological depth, with songs that have meaningful lyrics and aren’t afraid to acknowledge there will be hard times in life. It is an album that is full of passion and sincere contagious joy, and is a definite contender for album of the year, and a highly recommended purchase. Musically it is up there with the best of the mainstream releases, yet sadly because of the boldly Jesus centred lyrics Rend will likely remain barred from BBC Radio One regardless of how well sales go.
As seems to be the trend these days there is a deluxe edition with a couple of remixes, a ukulele version of Every Giant will fall and a couple of extra new songs, of which special mention should go to Ireland’s Call which is the Irish rugby anthem and has been given a thunderous Rend rendition with full Celtic folk rock passion and which may just bring them a host of new rugby supporting fans when the World Cup kicks off in September, and I would advise getting the deluxe edition if you can.
NB disclaimer: I was provided with a free pre-release copy for review purposes, I did not have to do a positive review. All opinions my own.