Album Review :
Justin Kintzel - Death is Overcome

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Artist: Justin Kintzel
Title: Death is Overcome
Label: independent
Release Date: 2/7/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. You Are Always There
  2. Death is Overcome
  3. Chorus of Our Hearts
  4. Slave
  5. You Saved Me
  6. One Who Overcomes
  7. Place We Belong
  8. Only You Can Satisfy
  9. Leave Me Speechless
  10. The One Who Listens

Sounding eerily similar to Starfield lead singer Tim Neufield, Justin Kintzel is the worship pastor at Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the entire world.  Extremely gifted with computers and cameras, Justin’s Kintzel’s passion for music ministry is certainly evident as I listen to his debut album, Death is Overcome, which released digitally in February 2012. Still unsigned, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before this ‘Tim Neufield sound-a-like’ is partnered with one of either Provident; EMI or Word Label Group- I certainly would! With such lyrical richness and heartfelt honesty as Justin shows us his heart behind what he wants the album to accomplish, ‘…the main theme is adoration for God…a thousand words are not enough. Wherever His presence is, death is nothing. We can’t escape His love…’; listeners are able to receive a glimpse into 10 tracks that will certainly feel at home in any iTunes playlist focusing on modern Christian pop-rock. Justin works his creativity throughout these 10 tracks to create melodies of hope and promise as we understand just a drop of the Father’s unending love for His children!

From first listen, Justin’s title track stands out as a certain radio single, as he proclaims with all his might that whenever we are in Christ, death cannot overcome us in regard to our circumstances, that as we delve deeper into God’s Word and His promises, we’ll understand that ‘…death cannot have victory in us…’ Starting the track off with a guitar riff and a reverbing keyboard, we are met with the notion that death is all around us, that ‘…when it wages war, its preys on weary souls, it’s creeping in to take our life away…’ There are three things that are certain for each of us- taxes, changes, and death. Everyone dies, but as this hopeful melody professes, death has been overcome by Christ. A fantastic song that reminds that that we don’t have to fear, as we are redeemed and accepted through Christ, Justin encourages us to stand tall in our faith, that ‘…Your resurrection proves You’re making all things new…’ Well done Justin for one of my favourite songs on the album!

‘Chorus of Our Hearts’, ‘You Save Me’ and ‘One Who Overcomes’ are all highlights on an album that invites listeners from around the world to join in the song we are all singing to the God who has shown His unending love. As ‘Chorus of Our Hearts’ starts off with a guitar solo intro and Justin proclaiming, ‘…all generations over the ages have joined in the song, singing along, ‘you are holy’…’; we are met with the reality that God reigns supreme and all around the world, every Christian is joining in the echoing song, proclaiming to His renown as they continue to fall more in love with their Father in heaven. As Justin invites us to join the ‘…chorus of our hearts…anthem for You God…’; we must stand and make a choice as to whether we will proclaim Christ to everyone that we know, or if we’ll hide our lights within us. ‘One Who Overcomes’, a worship cover from Phil Wickham’s Heaven and Earth: Deluxe, carries on with the theme of praise, adoration and evangelism, as we understand the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Staying true to Phil’s version, Justin sings in passion as we sing along with him, ‘…to the one who overcomes, to the one who saves us from our sin and heals what’s broken…’; giving praise to our Father for giving up His only Son so we can be bridged back to Him. Certain to be a single like how Phil’s original was; Justin is able to carry on his overarching theme of God’s love for His children in the next pop-radio melody, ‘You Save Me’. Singing about how we would be lost without Christ, and how our lives would be a ‘…castle built upon the sand…[or] if I fell to the depths of the sea, with no one there to rescue me…’; Justin gives his heart over to God as he gives thanks for his rescue. With a simple acoustical undertone with light electric guitars, ‘You Save Me’ is as simple musically as it is profound lyrically; that through the simple words of the chorus, ‘…You saved me and from the start, You overwhelmed my heart…’ can evoke such an emotional response, both by Justin, as well as myself. Such a sacrifice shouldn’t be brushed over, and through this melody, listeners are given a chance to ponder about the greatest thing anyone has ever done in human history!

From acknowledging that God is always with us, pursuing and showering His love over us (‘You are Always There’) and giving God everything because we were ‘…bought with a price…[therefore] filled with a desire to give something…’ (‘Slave’), to humanity being lost for words in the presence of a holy God because ‘…a thousand words could never be enough to sing of who You are and Your great love…’ (‘Leave Me Speechless’); Justin has not wavered in his message of hope as he weaves his message of redemption and love throughout each song on the album. Full of electric guitars and lyrical anthems that leave me worshipping with him; Justin has created some heartfelt moments of surrender, particularly in ‘Leave Me Speechless’, where we are able to set aside every distraction, understanding God’s love for us each day as we continue to read the Word and stay in tune to His Spirit. ‘Only You Can Satisfy’ preludes ‘Leave me Speechless’; employing plenty of strings and reverbing keyboard, as Justin speaks about the human search for the one to fill the empty space every human has. Showing listeners that ‘…I’ve seen what the world can offer, nothing can sway me, I have found, only You can satisfy…’, Justin has given us an avenue, declaring that God exists to give us the piece in our hearts that we have been yearning for since the dawn of our lives, that our purpose is only found in Him, ‘…to worship the one who sets me free…’. The album then ends with the ballad-like melody, ‘The One Who Listens’, showcasing the poignant truth that God hears all our prayers and is faithful to those who call upon Him, bringing hope to the fallen, and strength to those who truly need His help. A fitting end to an album of worship, ‘The One Who Listens’ emphasises that God indeed hears our cries when we shout out to Him in certain circumstances, giving us hope and confidence that God uses and works everything that happens to His glory. What a wonderful revelation to end the album, Death is Overcome!

Overall: Justin Kintzel has created an album that has kept me wondering why he has slipped under my radar of artists for that long. With worship his primary focus, Justin has shown us that God satisfies beyond how we can imagine, that the hope we have in Christ can lead us to much joy as we lay down everything that is in the way. Certainly for fans of Starfield, this album is a must for churches, with joyous worship part of Justin’s forte as he leads listeners, corporately and individually, into the presence of God! Well done Justin for such a rewarding worship experience!

RIYL: Starfield, Phil Wickham, Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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