Artist: Least of These
Title: Change Will Come
Label: Come & Live
Release Date: 08/03/2013
Reviewer: Ty DeLong
- The Son, the Kingdom
- Dealing at the Crossroads
- This Is Confidence
- Broken Record
- Exchanging Truth For a Lie
- Bearing In and Out
- When Seeing (Still) Isn’t Believing
- Be Still and Know
- Change Will Come
I was fortunate enough to make it to Cornerstone Festival 2012, “the last one.” It was there that I happened upon an energetic young band called Least of These. After seeing their first set, I made it a point to catch them every chance I could. Best of all, they partnered with Come & Live, so I was able to download their EP, More Than Conquerors, when I got home. Since then, I’ve looked forward to a full-length, and the boys from Denton, Texas did not disappoint.
Change Will Come primarily features alternative rock with some ambience and a bit of edge. Undoubtedly, some will point to Come Now Sleep era As Cities Burn and say that it’s nothing new. While there are similarities to that style, the album takes twists that As Cities Burn never would have, and besides, that torch has been dropped in recent years, in my opinion. Guitar tones run the gamut from clean, delayed picking, to reverb-washed tremolo, to fast, melodic runs with “glassy” distortion. The drumming is powerful and inventive, but not distracting, and the bass holds songs together as the various elements do their own thing. Vocals are an interesting story on this album, as well. Since their last release, the band parted ways with their lead singer and welcomed a new member. Throughout the new songs, I knew I heard at least two distinct voices, but it turns out that all four band members now contribute at the microphone in some form or fashion. I only wish they would have done some more dueling vocal lines throughout, but that’s my classic Emery nostalgia kicking in.
The album begins strong with “The Son, the Kingdom,” an anthem which speaks of a personal journey of faith, ultimately proclaiming that God allows us all to become his children. The song includes a spoken word cameo (which I believe may be Levi the Poet) and forceful gang vocal “whoa”s over melodic guitars before closing with a mostly instrumental outtro. What struck me about the first half of the album is that it is very dynamic, even within the same songs. “Dealing At the Crossroads” is mid-tempo, but weaves in an out of a stripped-down sound and full-force rocking, including a noisy interlude featuring distorted screaming. Conversely, “This Is Confidence” begins heavy before shifting gears and hitting a soft and beautiful bridge, then plunging back into heaviness. “Broken Record” is one of the more unique songs on the record, as it features a repeating guitar riff in an interesting time signature, and “Exchanging Truth For a Lie” laments how often we want to make God into our own image.
The instrumental track “Selah” provides a bit of a break and leads into one of the heaviest and darkest tracks. “Bearing In and Out” paints a lyrical picture of the struggle against sin and condemnation, both from self and others. From this point, the album takes a turn toward the more quiet and introspective. “When Seeing (Still) Isn’t Believing,” is a heartfelt ballad about struggling with doubt. With a similar sentiment, “Be Still and Know” starts quietly but quickly builds to choruses which speak of how easy it is to say the right things without actually living them.
The final track, “Change Will Come,” is my personal favorite, an epic of nearly seven minutes with several different movements. Beginning with highly personal lines and transitioning to more widespread truth, the lyrics describe how life always continues to flow, change comes, and God is the one constant through it all.
Our destination will not always be
What You’ve called our destiny
Change will come consistently
Riding grace and mercy
Change will come, my love
Change will come, my love
What I love most about the album is that after a month and probably a dozen listens, I’m still hearing subtleties and details in almost every song. To me, that’s the sign of an album written and crafted with great care. Yes, there can be beauty in simplicity, but for me, complexity is what often gives staying power. The production, overall, is great. I can’t pick anything out about the sound quality or mix that distracted me from hearing the songs themselves, which is the most important thing, in my opinion. Looking at the overall album with a more critical eye, the lyrical phrasing can be somewhat straight-forward in places, which is either a pro or con depending on your preferences. Also, while the individual songs are are generally incredible, it lacked that intangible sense of “cohesion” that often catapults albums into the realm of perfection.
Overall: Least of These deliver an excellent album with their first full-length offering. The songwriting is intricate, and the performance is passionate, always maintaining a spiritual undercurrent. The record came very close to being a 5/5 for me, but I personally reserve perfect scores for albums I consider to be timeless masterpieces of their genres. I’m confident that if Least of These stick with it, they will produce at least one such album. Change Will Come is available through iTunes and Come & Live.
RIYL: As Cities Burn, My Epic, Thrice (Vheissu era)