Sound — 8
Pillar has been one of those rock bands that don't go away. They've provided a steady flow of albums that were always pretty good if not very good. The band still rocks out hard as Fire On The Inside or Shine (Collective Soul cover) can testify, but there is that thing called "maturity" present in the songwriting. The opening track will bring you back to older albums that many celebrate as their best, and that infectious hard rock vibe hasn't been lost. However, there is to my ears more quality in their attempts to be diverse. At times, their attempts at mellowing out from their more riff oriented material seemed too far from the core sound for me to get into. They seem to more smoothly transition from hard riffs to heavy ballad and even throw in some appropriate soft tunes. Maybe not everyone will like the newer sounds they are starting to incorporate into their style, but I encourage freshness and artistic freedom. One criticism is that I notice a bit of more than subtle Redesque riffing and Fireflight chord bashing on a couple songs. I don't think it's wrong for artists to play off of each other, but it's less than tasteful to cop each other's styles so strongly. It's almost like all the Christian hard rock is starting to clone each other. Other than that, I think the sound is pretty strong and a good effort. As far as instrumental quality, the guitar work of Noah is still impressive. He plays some nice riffs and even a couple good solos that show his constant improvement in his abilities. He even has improved his clean parts and come up with more intricate clean riffs. Rob manages to pull the vocals together and has stronger singing than the last album, although his screaming is less abundant to mostly likely save his voice. The new drummer and bassist provide a solid effort although the fast footwork and bombastic fills of Lester are missed. The band manages to put out another solid sounding album, though some may say it sounds too commercial.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are typical lyrics for a Christian rock band. Dealing with issues in life from the from the standpoint of their faith and a call for Christians to get off their collective rears are main topics that the lyrics speak about. The lyrics also speak of faith and being sustained by something more than yourself. I think that these lyrics are positive and fit with the music. They aren't preachy, but they are honest. If you aren't a Christian than you can still find positive themes of endurance and hope in the hard times. As far as the singing skills, Rob seems to be keeping his voice in fairly good shape. He does seem to have a raspier and nasally edge sometimes, but his clean vocals remain fairly good for the most part. The screaming isn't quite as abundant, but he still whips it out from time to time and it has good strength to it.
Overall Impression — 9
Pillar manages to keep their sound intact, but I notice elements of Kutless, Red, and Fireflight in the music. This can be a good or bad thing. New ideas are a good thing, but they should try to balance everything out before they start sound like everyone else. I like all the songs on the album, but the opening track hits you hard in the gut and is a great start to the album. Their cover of Collective Soul will have you singing "Whoaa! Heaven let your let shine down!" at the top of your lungs and Noah will melt your face off with a decent solo later in the song. I only have a slight criticism of the sound being too comparable to other Christian rock, but that's my only complaint. I pre ordered this at Camp Electric, so if anything happened to it I would be sad as it just came out today. Although, I would get over it because I have it imported onto my computer now. Overall, it's decent new album from Pillar. Note that nothing is perfect, so none of my ratings will be.