Typically it takes a little further into a band’s career for a real sense of identity, cohesion and maturity to develop. The debut album is not always a 5 star, knock it out of the park kind of offering. So let me introduce you to Rend Collective Experiment, a band so fresh, exciting and creative that I don’t really know where to start when discussing their debut release, “The Organic Family Hymnal.”
Words like “poetic”, “artistic creativity” and “indie inclinations” can send more traditional worshipers running for cover, but I beg of you – stay and hear about this one!
Hailing from Bangor, Northern Ireland, the Collective is a rotating cast of 15+ musicians, with a core of band leader Gareth Gilkerson along with Chris Llewellyn, Will Herron and Patrick Thompson. The inclusion of so many other people sonically and lyrically could run the risk of a messy canvas, but the life of this group of people flows so naturally that it holds together as a remarkable example of the life of Christ in His Church.
As for the group’s unusual moniker, Rend Collective Experiment is a nod to the places in Scripture where it says to “rend your hearts” and not your garments,” a bold call to be genuine.
“Those passages are a reminder not to put on a show, but to be real and authentic in all we do,” Gareth explains. “In Isaiah it also says ‘rend the heavens and come down,’ so a connection with God warrants an authentic response. And the ‘experiment’ part is there because nobody knows where we’re at really, do we? We’re all just experimenting with life and going with it.”
The album contains 13 bold, powerful tracks that has the creative freedom of bands like David Crowder*Band, Gungor and The Polyphonic Spree, with all the resultant emotion, grandeur and melodic depth. And on the second track, “Faithful”, Mr. Crowder lends his unmistakable vocal and songwriting touch. Hot on the heels of this is “Movements”, three minutes of near pristine indie-pop joy that makes commitment to draw near to God, regardless of life’s dealings. It also features this years most infectious hand-clapping.
“You Bled” and “Broken Bred” both rein in the rock vibe, with the latter adding an irish lilt to the sound that sits so naturally in the mix of everything else that it is clearly a genuine cultural expression of where this young band comes from. “Exalt” then builds slowly from sparse guitars, through throbbing bass lines to a massive, anthemic chorus of “I exalt You! I exalt You! I exalt You and enjoy You! I exalt You! I exalt You! I exalt You! You’re the colour of my world!” This blend of poetic lyric, with great musical expression gives us an honest and passionate catalog of songs perfect for communities to embrace in their worship gatherings.
Two personal favorites are “God Is Near” and “Love Divine”, bringing both intimacy on one hand, and hymnic glory on the other, and all the while delivering verses of truth to proclaim.
So that is all in way of introduction – get to know Rend Collective Experiment yourself. They might just be your new favorite band.
This review was originally submitted to Foursquare and the review copy was provided at no charge by Kingsway music. No attempt was made to secure a favorable review and all opinions expressed are the author’s own.