Album Review :
The Brilliance - Brother

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Artist: The Brilliance
Album: Brother
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 2.17.15
Reviewer: Ian Zandi

Track Listing:

  1. Brother
  2. Now and at the Hour
  3. Yahweh
  4. Does Your Heart Break
  5. Love Remains
  6. Breathe
  7. Dust We Are and Shall Return
  8. Prayers of the people
  9. Make Us One
  10. May You Find a Light (Reprise)

I like vanilla ice cream. I really do. It’s simple, sweet, and to the point. No quirks, nuts, or slime to get in the way of what really matters. On the other hand, vanilla ice cream can get old really fast. Who would want to eat the same-ol same-ol “normal” vanilla ice cream 24/7? Nobody, that’s who.  CCM worship music is exactly like ice cream (in fact, I sometimes confuse them and put Sonicflood albums in my freezer). Vanilla ice cream/CCM is great for pleasing large amounts of people in gatherings such as churches or ice cream socials (or ice cream socials at church). However, in my own time, I like to have a little bit of cookie dough in my ice cream to chew on. David Gungor and John Arndt are my cookie dough ice cream.

Now, let’s get the elephant out of the room. David Gungor is, in fact, Michael Gungor’s brother. Perhaps that is what inspired this album’s title? David Gungor sounds very similar to his brother and the music is just as good (if not, better in a different way) than that of Gungor. The music of The Brilliance could best be described as:

David Crowder + Gungor = David Gungor.

David Gungor+ John Arndt= The Brilliance.

The title track of this album takes the stripped down, “basic is better”, “less is more” approach. This makes the album easier to digest and grow accustomed to its unique sounds. Much like my recent (5/5) albums Kye Kye, Copeland, and King’s Kal, every piece of instrumentation feels intentionally placed. This makes it ideal for a myriad of situations including worship, meditation, or scenic route experiences. The underlining phrase of “Brother” is “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother. “

This could have 2 meanings:

1) His brother is as evil as his enemies

2) His enemies are treated as his brothers, like Michael.

I’m going with the latter.

The next song “Now and At the Hour” is a pleading prayer to God to forgive and rescue ourselves. This theme continues to be heard throughout the album on track such as “Love Remains”, and “Does Your Heart Break”. Other themes of love, compassion, worship, adoration, mercy, and passion make appearances as well.

The lyrics on Brother are very simple, but effective. Unlike Michael’s lyrics, David does not rely on poetry to depict his songs of adoration. Instead, unique instrumentation is taken to heart from the warbling autotune on “Yahweh”, the Postal Service-esque keys on “Does Your Heart Break”, and the swelling chants on “Love Remains”. One aspect that works in the band favor, is utilizing crescendos. Many of the songs on Brother build up to a pinnacle and then stoop back down again for the start of the next piece of music.

All of these songs seem to have appeared on various past eps and seasonal releases (such as Lent). Which makes this album timely considering Easter is right around the corner. I have nothing against gluing the old songs with these newer ones as I did not previously hear them, and wouldn’t have known any different. All of the songs mesh perfectly under the album Brother.

Overall: This release from The Brilliance is a unique combination of church music, indie experimentation, prayers, and pure passion. I love albums such as this one where I can really feel the spirit of God moving through the music. Perhaps it is biased, but I truly feel that this album speaks to me in a spiritual matter. The weakest part of Brother are the lyrics, however, I wouldn’t want them to change in the slightest. The Brilliance have found a stirring recipe for worship and it will truly be timeless. What is that recipe for worship? Cookie dough ice cream.


RIYL: Gungor, David Crowder Band, King’s Kaleidoscope, Aaron Strumpel, John Mark McMillan, Josh Garrels