Review Summary: Accordingly to the title New Horizons should be a step forward for the band, but rather just presents another step deeper into mediocrity.
It came as a big surprise that just weeks before the release of a new album Lacey Sturm, the front-woman and easily the most recognizable part of the group, was parting ways with the band. Whatever the reasons, the quality of the soon to be released album was sure to be questioned. Flyleaf was never a very critically acclaimed band, but their previous release Memento Mori was surprisingly good. Progressive and theatrical elements were added to invigorate their sound and a fair share of catchy singles prevented the album from becoming redundant, when their technical abilities were questioned. So it would be unfair to count Flyleaf out just yet.
The title track and the first single to be released from the album saw the band moving in what could potentially be the right direction. It was a more mature take on their sound while still maintaining the innocence and charm that made them popular among the Christian rock crowd. Bassist Pat Seals described the track as being about "a feeling of looking toward the unknown future with hope." Indeed, the track is successful in conveying this feeling, so that it is so much more painful when all of the hope is rapidly taken away from you and spat upon only moments later.
After the first two solid and satisfyingly catchy tracks all of the hints at something new and exciting disappear at once, as if they used up all of the inspiration and simply just gave up. This is especially inconvenient for a band whose primary lyrical subjects are hope and faith. There is not one track, nor is there a single moment after the title track, when the band would show any incentive of making a worthwhile enjoyable song, let alone doing anything even vaguely ambitious.
Lacey, possessing a distinct voice was always in danger of potentially turning away the listeners, and she makes sure to use her voice to the full extent here to sound as annoying as possible. The rest of the band, who by now should rightfully try to step out of Lacey’s shadow, seem to be as determined as ever to hide in the background and provide a nice insight into post-grunge’s most generic riffs and drum patterns. The band shy further away from their alternative metal roots; appearing in its place is more cheesy pop. There are a few heavier tracks present as well, but they come across as particularly bland, without any anger carrying the words; gone are the days of Lacey screaming her lungs out in I’m So Sick. Half way through the album you end up wishing something would happen. A Breakdown, some wubs, I’ll take just about anything. But it never does. The only new ability the band has acquired is to stretch time, making three-minute songs feel like an eternity.
Accordingly to the title New Horizons should be a step forward for the band, but rather just presents another step deeper into mediocrity. All in all it’s a spiritual journey, that will have you rethink your life, question your beliefs, but most of all test your patience. A journey I do not intend on repeating any time soon or yet better never. And although at the end of the day my beliefs remain pretty much intact, I sure have lost faith in Flyleaf and apparently so have they.