I only watch two television channels these days. Comedy Central, for obviously I am 17, and FUSE, for obviously I am 17. But for some odd reason, despite how cliché and 90’s they are, I love music videos to this day. However, most of the time I don’t really bother paying attention to the music or use the videos as a way of finding new bands I may like. One little day, though, a video with some rather diminutive woman screeching came on, and I was enthralled.
That song was of course, I’m So Sick
, by the band whose only full-length self-titled album, Flyleaf
, you are currently looking at. The immediate thing you’ll notice is the female vocalist, Lacey Mosley. While I may have at first believe I was listening to a Claudio Sanchez side project (har), Lacey is actually quite the singer. While she really doesn’t have many different levels to her voice (it’s pretty much screechy-high throughout the entire album), she manipulates it to the best of her ability. Tracks such as Cassie
(far and away the best song on the album) are driven by her passionate voice, and she somehow manages to croon, scream, growl, wail, and yelp without making any of it seem forced.
The next thing any attentive listener will notice is, surprisingly, that Flyleaf is a Christian rock band. This may not surprise you as much if you accessed them by some other means than the music video (it’s rather…dark), but upon looking up the lyrics after the realization, you should be pleasantly surprised this time ‘round. They aren’t poetry in the least, and they aren’t groundbreaking, but they luckily avoid all those Christian rock clichés, instead of preaching on about how great Jesus is, they instead opt for more of a “this is why I believe in God" approach, which is far more accessible to me. Of course, it can still get a bit cheesy (see All Around Me
), but when you have a song as lyrically powerful as Cassie
, small faults can be overlooked for the greater good.
In general, the musicianship is also solid. Not great, mind you, but solid. Their greatest weakness is also their greatest strength, in particular regards to the two guitarists, Jared Hartmann and Sameer Bhattacharya (those are some names). Flyleaf does have a rather unique instrumental sound, while they do fall under the whole nu metal/mainstream/hard rock umbrella, they experiment enough that they distinguish themselves. However, Hartmann and Sameer overdo it many a time, and some of the interesting stuff they do put out sounds contrived, and while it doesn’t necessarily sound
bad, it makes you wonder “Ok…when are we gonna get to hard rockin’ again?
" Drummer James Culpepper and bassist Pat Seals also attempt to do some neat things with their respective instruments, but it either A) Doesn’t fit, or B) comes off as forced, something you just don’t want to hear. At least in my experience.
When Flyleaf does hit the mark though, they hit the mark hard. I’m So Sick
opens the album strong, with those drop-d guitars chugging along and Lacey screaming her little heart out. Flyleaf isn’t afraid to take slight risks in song structure, and while they’re no Tool of course, it’s refreshing to hear a song as strangely dark and in general out there as I’m So Sick
on the radio. Cassie
, previously mentioned, is an outstanding rock song, with Pat giving a crazy bass line and Lacey delivering the most powerful lyrics on the album. The song immediately following, Sorrow
, is also a rather kicking tune, being one of the few moments where Flyleaf gets a slow song completely right. At the risk of being redundant, Lacey is the centerpiece, and how can you not smirk at lines such as “I’ll take this piece of you and hold for all eternity
The latter half of the album, however, is a slight disappointment. To emphasize my main point, I won’t mention the name of one song. Flyleaf, for all their uniqueness, crafted a second half that Is just far too repetitive. It’s not bland, exactly, but nothing ends up standing out. Its here that most of their weaknesses become exposed, as Lacey not having a large range finally catches up with her somewhat, and the rest of the band begins to fall back on previous tricks to get their job done. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, since the first half was so promising…perhaps so promising they decided it would be better to recycle slightly then to push their sound further.
Regardless, though, the album ends up being an extremely rewarding listen. It’s extremely catchy, but has a slight edge that is far from being equal to that of, oh lets say Underoath
, but Flyleaf doesn’t really need a gimmick (well, beyond Lacey’s voice at least) to succeed. All in all, while it gets to drag on a bit (which is a slight problem, especially when your album is only 33 minutes long), Flyleaf
is a very strong debut, and gives this reviewer hope that maybe one day, he too can make Christian nu-metal. Do you believe in Iluvatar? It was written on the bullet, you know…