Album Review :
Rend Collective Experiment - Homemade Worship By Handmade People
Artist: Rend Collective Experiment
Title: Homemade Worship By Handmade People
Label: Kingsway Music/EMI CMG
Release Date: 1/10/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Praise Like Fireworks
- You Are My Vision
- The Cost
- Second Chance
- True Intimacy
- Build Your Kingdom Here
- Desert Soul
- Christ has Set Me Free
- Keep Me Near
- Shining Star
Hailing from Bangor, Northern Ireland, Rend Collective Experiment have breathed new life into the CCM genre in a similar way David Crowder*Band has. With chart topping songs like ‘You Bled’, ‘Faithful’ and ‘Movements’, Gareth Gilkeson explains the band’s title and how they are seeking after the Lord, being reminded ‘…not to put on a show, but to be real and authentic in all we do…[we are name ‘rend’ because] in Isaiah it also says ‘rend the heavens and come down,’ so a connection with God warrants an authentic response…the ‘experiment’ part is there because nobody knows where we’re at…we’re all just experimenting with life and going with it…’ As they released their sophomore album Homemade Worship by Handmade People in January 2012 with singles ‘You are My Vision’ and ‘Second Chance’; I was eager to see how this band, very similar musically with experimentation as David Crowder*Band; would step up (I seriously think they can!) to the void that David Crowder*Band left when they retired that same month. Listening to the album through, I can boldly claim Rend Collective Experiment will assert themselves in the CCM industry, with refreshing sounds and musical uniqueness that places this album as one of the most underrated albums of 2012 so far!
‘Second Chance’ is the first single, worshipful from the start as lead singer Chris Llewellyn sings out ‘…oh Your cross it changes everything…’ As this certain fact presses on our hearts as we understand that Jesus’ death and resurrection revolutionises history and what remains important in the grand schemes of eternity; I am able to soak in musical genius from a band that have enough repertoire and quality to move into the place that David Crowder vacated. With guitar hook reminding me of Mark Waldrop’s musical prowess from David Crowder*Band and current member to The Digital Age; this song speaks of a plea that we all ask everyday- for God to continue shaping us as we are transformed by the creator of our being. Starting from the poignant lyrical moments that delve into the heart of the human condition ‘…my future hangs on this, You make preciousness from dust, please don’t stop creating me…’ we are able to comprehend the depth of how important Christ’s sacrifice is for us. We are forever grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice, and this song is able to remind us of the second chances we receive from our Heavenly Father, both now and the rest of our lives; as we continue to be transformed in the likeness and image of God. A fantastic first single by a band that reinvigorates the current Christian musical setting!
‘The Cost’, ‘True Intimacy’ and ‘You are My Vision’ carry on the themes of ‘Second Chance’, creating heartfelt melodies that show us more of God’s love, creating a bigger picture as to how the Lord built the bridge for us to make our way back to Him. ‘You are My Vision’ is a contemporary re-imagining of the popular hymn, complete with plenty of percussion, acoustic guitars and backing vocals. A fresh contemporary re-invigorating sound of a timeless hymn, Gareth gives the listener a background to how the ‘be thou’ became the boldly proclaiming ‘you are’; ‘…this is not a song of longing and asking God to ‘be our vision,’ but it is a song of declaration and faith. We say to God with strength, trust and humanity that ‘You are my vision’…’ Rend Collective Experiment have done a tremendous job at choreographing the song, as well as ‘The Cost’ and ‘True Intimacy’; both highlighting the importance of taking up our crosses and following Christ, no matter what the cost. With acoustics, hand claps and light percussion, we are led to the lyrical moments in ‘The Cost’, ‘…I’ve counted up the cost…and You are worth it…’ understanding that Christians need to boldly claim this statement and mean every word, that because of what Christ has done, we can’t help but follow Him; knowing that it is worth every adversary or opponent that stand in our way. With Ali Gilkeson taking the helm on lead vocals, ‘True Intimacy’ leads us into the truth that ‘…there’s nothing greater than knowing You, You unlock my joy, You waken my soul…’ Mixed with acoustical moments overlayed with soaring vocals and electronic distortion, I am able to soak in the worship as I sing out with Ali, proclaiming that knowing God is everything.
The beginning of ‘Shining Star’ is complete with brass instruments, guitars and powerful drums; as we peel back the layers on this worship track. Glancing at the song brings out the theme of overwhelming love as we are met halfway by the maker as we know that because of who He is, we can be called His children. The lines ‘…You are magnificent…my rescuer, You light the darkest night…’ show God’s power over the darkness, and is indeed the shining star guiding our hearts. Both ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’ and ‘Keep Me Near’ are ‘heart-invading’ songs as we are met with the similar theme of inviting God into our hearts, trusting Him as He works through our circumstances to create the men and women we can be in Him. With driving guitars and strong percussion, Chris shows his passion for the church in ‘Build You Kingdom Here’, boldly proclaiming God to ‘…build Your kingdom here, let the darkness fear, show Your mighty hand, heal our streets and land…’ Making his intentions clear, I am able to sing along with him, knowing that God loves to use His children as vessels of His love and hope for the world to see. In ‘Keep Me Near’, we are encouraged of the humbleness of the wanting God to keep us close to Him, so we can be nourished and grow. Combined with an eerie keyboard and plenty of backing vocals, lead vocalist Will Herron proclaims the reassuring words ‘…keep me near Your heart…You are everything that is beautiful…’, showcasing to be one of the most tender and soothing tracks is one of my highlights.
Rend Collective Experiment mostly record songs in an experimental way, trying new musical ways of conveying truth in song. From folk to ballads and roaring anthems, they have exploring many musical options among these 11 tracks. ‘Praise Like Fireworks’ has a ‘60s vibe with roaring guitars, and a passionate vocal crowd; with Will Herron shouting out ‘…You’ve given us a heart, given us a home…we’re bringing You our praise…’, and I can’t help but dance along. ‘Christ Has Set Me Free’ is another short track that is as contemplative as their longest track; ‘Desert Soul’. With themes like proclaiming that we are dry bones lost without the Lord (‘Desert Soul’) and rejoicing that Christ has set us free from the things that hold us down (‘Christ Has Set Me Free’); Rend Collective’s ingenious musical crafting has led me to state that this is an album you won’t want to pass up!
Overall: Rend Collective Experiment have served up 11 tracks of pure worshipful moments where the listener is lost in praise. Certainly a candidate to fill David Crowder*Band’s shoes, Homemade Worship By Handmade People has exceeded all expectations to become one of my favourite worship albums of the year together with Christy Nockels’ Into the Glorious, Bluetree’s Kingdom and Paul Baloche’s The Same Love. Lovers of David Crowder’s work will be at home with the album, but is also for anyone that needs some joy in the midst of daily life. Full of musical genius from 1 to 11; well done Rend Collective for such a captivating experience!
RIYL: David Crowder Band, Bluetree, Paul Baloche, Christy Nockels
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3