RendOne of the most promising worship bands stutters with a release that loses the considerable ground they have made so far.


Time: 13 tracks / 62 mins.
Label: Kingsway

When Rend Collective Experiment (as they were then known) arrived a few years ago, it was like a fresh coastal breeze blowing through a smoggy city.

I was disappointed by some of the reaction that Rend received in the American Christian press for its first two releases. It was as if the reviewers did not get the band. Yes, they were a little patchy, but it seemed like the reviewers were out of touch with the swell of Mumfordia that Rend happily floated on.

In “Build Your Kingdom Here” the band let loose one of the best congregational worship songs of the last five years. It actually expressed the things that worshippers want to say about longing for God to take the nation by storm and did so in language that we could identify with; it was a clear channel through which a heart could unleash a longing for God to move. Rend had been a genuine voice for the worshipper, eschewing a lot of the vacuous phrases that get overused by CCM and writing from the heart.

When the press kit came out for this collection, saying that Rend were going for a celebration album, it seemed to smack of looking to catch the blander space, where any number of worship bands set out their stalls. Subjectively, it has been very difficult to get past that initial impression. More objectively, the collection is not too bad, although it comes across as re-treading old ground without quite the same authority. Many tracks keep the rootsy, acoustic feel, but seem to be similar tunes to what has gone before (complete with their stompy stick). They still manage to pack a lot of content into their lyrics. “Joy” and “My Lighthouse” both acknowledge the messiness of real life that our faith engages with.

Sometimes the songs are almost pastiches of other songs around, especially “All that I Am,” which seems built on a Hillsong phrase, complete with the obligatory unelaborated references to surrender.

In “Burn Like a Star,” they seem to be trying to recreate “Build Your Kingdom Here,” singing, “Burn like a star, light a fire in our hearts… for your glory/ In this darkness, light a flame in us.” Even so, it’s a highlight.

There are some more progressive pieces. “Immeasurably More” may not be too different from what else is around, but its verses sound a bit different from the other songs here. Its washy keys and “oh-oh-oh”s also help to set it apart from generic Rend material and add some variety to the sound. “Strength of my Heart” also feels both genuine and singable.

Several early tracks employ a sudden burst of volume heading into the chorus and that begins to sound like a production trick, rather than a heart expression. By contrast, many will enjoy the title track and “Simplicity,” which both feel as basic and honest as the latter title suggests.“Create in Me” displays their bouncy personality and “Finally Free” captures their Irish heritage (although it also suffers from their tendency to use badly-scanning lyrics on a few songs from each album).

Overall, although it is not a bad album, sadly, it leaves me unmoved. In so doing, it also devalues the previous material. Until now, I had been very excited by the band for its innovation and integrity. I do not doubt that integrity, but it sounds like the industry has removed the edge of their endearing naivety, and they are retreading old sounds, with little that’s fresh enough to excite.


Derek Walker

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