Reviewed by Ewan Jones
The Irish rockers return with their third full length album, and the boys sound louder and more confident than ever. This is no small thanks to the addition of guitarist Andy Bell who is playing on his first [crave] album since he joined the band in 2008. As if that wasn't enough, regular collaborative producer Trevor Michael (Duke Special, Electralyte) is back behind the desk and has once again created a rich, multi-layered sound for these big songs. In a loose sense, this is a concept album, opening with "March The Front Line" a victorious battle song that sets out the band's mission statement clearly; "The Victor's flag won't have shades of grey/Just in case I think the battle's mine/We'll march the front line home in your strength" - with some fantastic riffs and great rhythms to boot, it's a great start. Closer "Trenches" recognises that being on the front line can be a hard struggle - and yet offers the hope, "Beyond the trenches, the battle is won/Beyond the trenches, we're heading home". These tracks act as bookends for what frontman Scott McKeown describes as songs that, "focus on the battles within and without and how God breaks through to reach us." Case in point; the lyrics to the excellent "Better Man", based in part on Paul's words in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do/For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" and in 2 Corinthians 4:7 "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." This is heartfelt, encouraging and edifying and not the only example of McKeown and co's honest songwriting on display here. So that's all very well, but hey, does it ROCK? Expectations are high for new material that builds on 'Waiting Games' and I'm happy to say that 'The Front Line' does not disappoint - storming guitars, solid bass-lines, anthemic choruses, wailing solos and stabbing snares? Check. The band's sound is recognisably their own and so comparisons to Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters purely aim to help the uninitiated get an idea of what to expect here. Those fans who are already sold out for Crave will eagerly devour 'The Front Line' and the band deserve to see their fanbase grow worldwide as a result of this latest offering.
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