Album Review :
Glowhouse - RIVAL

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Glowhouse - RIVAL

Label: Independent
Release Date: September 30, 2014


  1. Moon
  2. Aviary
  3. Braincase (ft. Levi the Poet)
  4. Crimson
  5. Arrival

Often times, producers and studio musicians don’t get the recognition they deserve; their contributions are often less visible than the band or artist’s name, left lost in the liner notes.

So, it’s always interesting to see what these invisible creative masterminds come up with when they release their own music.

Alex Sugg was responsible for the music on the latest Levi the Poet release. Even before that, he’s been releasing music under the Glowhouse moniker for years.

This is Sugg’s first “Christian” release, though lyrical themes are not the only thing that have changed. This is by far the most electronic release, whereas earlier releases could be classified as slowcore.

RIVAL begins with ambient synth sounds, electronic drums, and relaxed vocals. Moon is likely the poppiest track on the album. Its electronic clap rhythms nonetheless don’t feel generic or forced, lending themselves nicely to the overall feel of the track. At almost six minutes in length, there’s plenty of time for a strong, dramatic close.

Aviary is a dirtier track, with muffled synth tones and a big focus on the lower end. Add in hip-hop style drums and you get an interesting mix. Vocals are pitch-shifted and it definitely took a few listens to get past the unnatural tonality. However, it ends up being a solid, though odd, track.

Pitch-shifted vocals continue on the start of Braincase, a track featuring the aforementioned Levi the Poet. It’s a very personal song, where Sugg wrestles with his doubt of God and eventually arrives at faith. Levi Macallister’s contribution is pretty characteristic of his pre-Correspondence releases; he recounts a number of shared moments of difficulty that he and Sugg shared over a spacious and eerie drum pattern. Sugg showcases a bit of R&B vocal styling toward the end of the song, singing, “Then I will trust You.”

Crimson nicely follows the declaration of faith at the end of Braincase, with lyrics like, “You were dead. It was all true. Could it be, could we see, the grave is empty?” Vocally, this is one of the standout tracks on the album. Instrumentally, it’s more upbeat than its predecessors and has an even mix of high and low ends. The title references the blood of Christ, and the lyrics assure us that death has been conquered.

The EP closes on the piano-driven Arrival, yet another personal testimonial from Sugg. “In the shadows, I was born. In the darkness, I was home. All the times, all the things, all the walls that I built. I was wrong, I was wrong to push You out.” The song certainly isn’t lacking in percussive elements, either. Again, there’s an array of electronic drums and effects that ultimately complete the atmosphere of the song.

Overall, the EP has its great moments, as well as its struggling points. Moon, Crimson, and Arrival are hard to criticize, but the vocal processing and experimentation on parts of Aviary and Braincase are hard to digest. I appreciate the lyricism and overall creative development Sugg expresses on the EP – it’s evident he has a lot of ability. Although Correspondence was the last major release he was involved with, I’m interested to see what he’ll do next.

For fans of: MGMT, Lorde, Twenty One Pilots, Levi the Poet


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