There are at least two criteria you need to appreciate before you’ll enjoy the Remission Flow’s debut album.
Firstly, time. The Light That Floods is a grower. It gets better with every listen.
Secondly, you need to understand their vision. The Remission Flow are made of up of seven ordinary, every-day working people from Ireland. Their aim is not to be the next Delirious or Rend Collective Experiment. They just want to be faithful with the gifts they’ve been given. Where that takes them will be anyone’s guess.
Judging the album on its own terms, this is a very promising release. Think an Irish version of The City Harmonic and you won’t be far off from the sound that’s been captured.
It’s bold, top-of-your-voice, declarative rock music…at its best. Far from being (like so many others) a polished, over produced and tame collection of songs, this album is full of raw energy.
Recorded in a makeshift Irish studio known as The Upper Room, it’s like listening to your favourite band’s early material, just before they made it big. On the other hand, the attention to detail in layering up the music with all kinds of brilliant keyboard sounds, drum fills and vocals parts is comparable to top quality albums such as Mezzamorphis and The Everglow.
But any talk of ‘making it big’ and experiencing the dizzy heights that other Christian bands have been fortunate enough to reach is abhorrent to the band. When I met them, they were reluctant to even talk about touring, let alone financial success. The ‘thanks’ section in the CD inlay says the band “owe everything to Jesus Christ and His Grace” while the following page lays out the band’s vision – “we need to see our churches on fire again!”
The band’s sole focus and rugged determination to live for an audience of one can be heard throughout the recording. And their sound is often as intense as their mission and personalities. That’s not to say the band members don’t have fun, just that when it comes to their music, they take it seriously.
But what of the songs? It’s difficult to pick any out for special praise. All the songs are best heard alongside the others. Having said that, first single and album opener Walls is an excellent start. The catchy but simple guitar parts compliment each other before the band sing ‘woah’ and the introduction gives way to Darren Mulligan’s confident voice ‘This life, this heart / I know it’s true / Only finds hope in you”.
Psalm 121 has the same energy and intensity as some of Hillsong United’s material while Sleeper contrasts dreamy lyrics and music - “awake me from this sleep Lord” with a powerful ending of “arise and shine my burdened soul / new live you give / I’ve been made whole”.
Handing the album to me, Darren was almost apologetic. “Sorry if it’s a bit repetitive”, he said. There was little need to be embarrassed about this fact as although many of the lyrics are sung over and over, the vast majority are lifted directly from scripture.
It’s difficult to imagine church congregations picking up these songs to use on a Sunday morning. Some are a little too heavy for most audiences but the main issue comes down to structure. Those wanting a simple verse, chorus, bridge, chorus structure will be disappointed. Those craving something that goes against this traditional style will be overjoyed.
The songs on the album ebb and flow, drifting over the listener resulting in a seamless feel. My surprise at the last track fading away was not because the album is short- far from it (it clocks in at a healthy 53 minutes) but because the song felt like it had the potential to go on forever!
The album will appeal to those desperate for bands to fill the gap left by Delirious, YFriday, Steve and other great British worship bands who have called it a day in recent years. It will also be snapped up by those wanting a recording that aids personal times of worship and reflection, while still packing a musical punch and a bit of a bite in the necessary guitar driven sections.
Although excellent, The Light That Floods isn’t the best debut album of the year. Chaos Curb’s release pushed more musical boundaries than The Remission Flow’s. But this is without doubt second best – and a very close one at that.
It’s difficult to slot the band into a neat category. They don’t fit the mould. But that’s the biggest reason why The Light That Floods deserves to be heard across denominations and across nations. Think of the album as a picture of the Church: Diverse in every way, yet united for one purpose. The Remission Flow’s vision is the clearest one you’re likely to find. How will it will be outworked in the future? Who knows? This is where the adventure begins. The light is beginning to shine.
Rating: 9 out of 10
October 15th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes