Album Review :
Of Lions - Of Lions EP

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Artist: Of Lions
Title: Self-titled
Label: unsigned
Release Date: 4/21/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan

 

Tracklisting

  1. Reclamation
  2. Scavengers (feat. Josiah Lyle)
  3. Xichang
  4. Catacombs
  5. Messiah

 

Boy, it’s frustrating when a band slips by your radar and you find yourself wondering, “Where was I when this came out?” Nonetheless, it’s still a cool surprise to find some new music with potential to go places, and it certainly seems that Texas outfit, Of Lions (formerly called Lion of Judah) fills that description quite nicely. Their self titled EP release came out in March of last year, and thankfully fell into to my lap to spend some time with.

For me, the band’s overall sound would fit squarely somewhere in the mist of bands like Mouth of the South, Gideon, with perhaps a touch of Life in Your Way. Vocalist Logan Scruggs simply brings it, with convicting screams mixed with some group shouting that really sets this record on a mission. That mission is, clearly, to rock hard and spread the Gospel. The production is top notch, no demo-ish sound here, guitars are razor sharp, outstanding drumming that pounds throughout, and the mix is spot on. In my view, there is simply not to much to dislike about the overall sound on this EP.

“Reclamation” gets things moving quickly, rocketing out stylish verses along side some atmospheric, melodic guitar work. I found the groove to have a pleasant pace, chugging one second, then breaking out into a more straight forward rock riff allowing the tune and listener to catch their collective breaths. Lyrically, the progression starts from a man who is really questioning God and struggling with doubts, but continues to press in and doesn’t give in to despair, eventually finding their way back into the Father’s arms.

Speaking of Mouth of the South, Josiah Lyle lends some helping vocals on the blistering track, “Scavengers.” The word “pulsating” fits this tune to a tee. The muted intro easily melds into a focused, yet aggressive verse. The drumming on this entire EP is, quite frankly, among some of the best I have heard in this genre period, and that is certainly highlighted here.

I must admit I had no idea what the word “Xichang” was. So, after a quick Google search (of course), I found that it was a city in China. It sort of makes you wonder if there is a personal connection between the writer and this particular city. But from the lyrics, you hear described a very depressive life, full of bondage. Though still currently in this despair, the writer makes it clear of his desire for these people to come meet Christ and be freed. This is probably the fastest pace track on the record from top to bottom.

“Catacombs” is an example where the theme of the song is perfectly matched by the mood setup up through the music. It seems like a person going through a season of depression, trying to climb and crawl their way to the Lord. The way the vocals are passionately crying out, reaching out for hope, is spelled out so distinctly by the tones and chords. Great tune, possible my favorite of the lot.

The final track “Messiah,” basically follows the final hours of Jesus’ death and then eventual resurrection. Soulfully started through the first half with some light guitar picking, recounting Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The music picks up when describing the crucifixion and continues on through the point where He ultimately defeats the grave. Great way to end, for sure.

Overall: If you’re a fan of some of the aforementioned bands, I would certainly give this band a listen. I’m interested to see if there is, or is going to be a full length in these guy’s future. I know I would be one to quickly get on board for that release. The instrumentation is tight and the vocals are on point. I wouldn’t say that the band has released an EP that is altogether original, but for what is accomplished here, it’s extremely well executed. (Note: you can download this via their Bandcamp page with the “name your own price” option below)

RIYL: Mouth of the South, Gideon, Life in Your Way, Conveyor

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