by Malen USER (41 Reviews)
May 12th, 2024 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fallenmania, Part 7

If we want to understand how we went from “Fallen” to “Hanging on by a Thread”, it’s time to review the missing link between the two, so to speak. Here’s an album that has some superficial similarities to “Fallen” and arguably owes a lot of its success to it, but is also different from it in interesting way. An album I’ve somewhat outgrown, but still enjoy going back to. Yes, the time has come to review Flyleaf’s self-titled debut.

Flyleaf plays some fairly straightforward angsty alternative metal. They’re a Christian band, not a band of Christians that occasionally uses religious imagery like Evanescence, but their music feels way more raw than you’d expect. I don’t know if they actually invented the tropes of modern Christian rock, but they definitely introduced me to them. They’ve mastered the lyrics about faith, soft verse, soaring chorus and bridge formula, like for example in “All Around Me”, a power ballad with a faster chorus and even more energetic bridge. Or on the heavy and melancholic “Red Sam”, with its sad, soft verses, soaring chorus and powerful “And I worship!” climax.

Rage and melancholy are the dominating moods of this album, and Lacey Sturm’s vocals expresses them amazingly well. She sings like a harder edged Avril Lavigne, and she can occasionally let out a deep and raspy growl, although she doesn’t use it for more than one sentence. That’s an odd combination, but it actually works. Just listen to her frantic speak-singing, regular singing and sudden scream on “Breathe Today”, the album’s “Bring Me To life”. “I’m so Sick” is the first song, and a great intro to the album, thanks to its distorted bass line and angsty lyrics, but also to Lacey’s tormented singing and loud screams. “Sorrow” has a great heavy riff contrasted with its soft, melancholic singing, but her screaming “Joy will come!” as the last line always gets to me. Even on her softer performances, she can express a lot of emotion, like the self-loathing on “Perfect” or when she’s being wistful about her first love on the final ballad “So I Thought”.

“Cassie” is where my problems with the album begin. Musically, it’s one of Flyleaf’s best songs. It’s their first song I heard, and I was immediately hooked by its fast, frantic riff and loud screaming on the bridge (“I…will…say… YES!). My only problem is the lyrics, and there’s no way this isn’t going to be controversial, so I’ll just say it. The song is about the Columbine school shooting, more precisely, the disproven but enduring urban legend about how the shooters asked one of their victims, Cassie Bernall, if she believed in God, implying they would kill her if she said yes. Supposedly, she bravely answered yes, and became a martyr for the modern day. Not only did this not happen at all, but even if it did, why turn that poor girl into a martyr, and frame the killers as evil anti-Christians, while forgetting about all the other victims? Only a Christian band would think this is an acceptable subject for a song. This is the kind of thing that bothers me about that genre and why I can only take it in small doses.

Don’t worry, I have no other moral issue with the album. I feel like I have outgrown it, while I haven’t tired of “Fallen” or “Breakaway”, because musically, it’s a little flat and dull. They tend to use similar riffs and vocal lines, the lyrics are always about the same safe religious stuff, with only “Cassie” making any kind of controversial statement. “There for You” is just a boring ballad with nothing going on besides its soaring chorus. I like “Fully Alive”, it’s a pretty good rock song, but I can’t say anything about it that I haven’t said about other songs. Basically, it’s an album that I listen to because of the emotions it makes me feel, but not because it’s musically impressive in any way.

So why review it, in fact, why review Christian rock when I’m clearly not the target audience? Well, I like to get out of my comfort zone. If I can be objective about that stuff, I can be objective about anything. Objectively, you can’t write a series about Evanescence’s influence, or understand where Eowyn and The Letter Black got their sound, without mentioning Flyleaf. Really, if you must listen to only one fallemaniac Christian band, it should be Flyleaf. If you’re into that kind of sound, this album has a lot to offer. Their music feels a lot more authentic, and makes much more of an emotional impact than most of their imitators. Despite its flaws, I still enjoy it very much, it has become a sort of comfort listen for me. As a fallenmaniac album, it feels different, but enjoyable in its own way. It’s interesting to see how two bands from similar backgrounds evolved so differently while still remaining somewhat similar. Maybe this is what helped Flyleaf have a bigger career and more credibility, which they absolutely deserve.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 12th 2024


Album Rating: 3.5

DAMN. this was a huge album back in 05

May 12th 2024


Album Rating: 4.0

My cousin's ex actually knows the singer from this band lol. Album absolutely ripz and always has.

May 13th 2024


Album Rating: 3.5

My first exposure to this band was through Live Free or Die Hard lol

May 13th 2024


rock band 2

May 13th 2024


Dang I haven't listened to these guys in ages. I remember this album has some heaters.

May 14th 2024


Album Rating: 4.5

Still love this

May 15th 2024


Album Rating: 3.5

Album slaps

May 15th 2024


Album Rating: 3.5

yea this still rules. wouldn’t had been put on them if it wasn’t for my wife a couple decades ago

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