Mar 11, 2012 CD Reviews
Posted by wiegmake
Give Us Rest or (a requiem mass in c [the happiest of all keys])
Grade – A+
Ever since the early 2000s, David Crowder*Band has become renowned within Christian circles for their popular style of worship and unique use of instruments. With five diverse studio albums, a Dove Award win here, and a Grammy Award nomination there, the band was already in the process of taking the music industry by storm one praise-filled lyric at a time. Before long, however, the news struck that DC*B would be calling it quits. Despite initial sadness at the announcement, anticipation soon formed when word got out that a final album was in the works. Building on the success of Church Music in 2009, the band members headed to the studio last year to record their final album, Give Us Rest or (a requiem mass in c [the happiest of all keys]). It’s finally here, and the result is a surprisingly fresh batch of songs from the band’s most extensive album ever.
With 34 tracks spanning 2 discs and over 100 minutes of material, you know you are in for a musical journey of epic proportions when you give an album like Give Us Rest a spin. After an introduction featuring the sound of footsteps and a voice speaking in Latin, the arrival of a soft piano-driven melody marks the beginning of “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest,” which contains Crowder’s desperate pleas followed by a crescendo bridge. The first two tracks alone make an excellent opener, but what comes next is a second Latin interlude and the upbeat “Come Find Me,” which reminds me of some of the band’s previous singles. The most significant difference is that you can tell how much the band has matured in the area of songwriting over the years. The several tracks that follow treat the listener to a flavorful mix of stripped down acoustics (“Why Me?”), creative worship hits (“Fall on Your Knees” and “Let Me Feel You Shine”), and a couple of the most different-sounding songs to come from the band (“God Have Mercy” and “Blessedness of Everlasting Light”). They are dark and quirky but pale in comparison to Disc 1’s closing portion, Sequences 1-7. This part of the album will come as a surprise to the listener, with influences ranging from Gothic metal to experimental post-rock, not far off from being comparable to the likes of Sigur Rós at times. That said, you will probably either come to the conclusion that DC*B has lost their marbles or grown to a place of musical genius with these pieces. Whatever it is, I think they deserve credit for pulling off so many different styles of music at once, something that almost no other contemporary worship artist has ever tried before.
Disc 2 has its highs and lows as it shifts directions more than once, among other things. Still, some of what I would consider to be the band’s best songs can also be found on here. “Oh My God” and “I Am a Seed” both feature fancy guitar-playing and that familiar bluegrass-inspired sound which the band picked up on back in the days of A Collision. DC*B are in their element again on these songs, but I must mention how quickly they pass by, with a running time of under three minutes each. Apart from that minor complaint, they are unique tracks that flow together nicely, leading into a slight shift in direction with what comes next. “After All (Holy)” is not a bad song by any means, but the raw energy that was apparent earlier is drowned out in radio-friendly worship music, sadly.
Following an interesting interlude that consists solely of the word ‘Amen,’ powerfully-delivered highlights include “Oh, Great Love of God” and “Sometimes.” The remainder of the album carries out several different messages lyrically, including being able to find it within yourself to praise God during times when you have given up. The music, however, remains more or less constant until the last four tracks or so, where things begin to slow down. All that’s left of the journey is to sit back and let the band soothe you with their take on traditional hymns (“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms / ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”) and a couple of newly-penned folk-sounding melodies (“Oh, My God I’m Coming Home” and “Jesus, Lead Me to Your Healing Waters”). The final cover is of a song written by gospel singer Bill Gaither and his wife, called “Because He Lives.” The song ends the album on a high note, lyrically, as Crowder sings “And life is worth the living just because He lives.”
Overall, what David Crowder and his band have created here is a fantastic collection of worshipful anthems, each able to stand up on its own, while each having a similarity to the other that never fails to share the love of God with the listener. It is a concept album in a way, if you pay attention to it’s lengthy subtitle and how many of the songs celebrate the life and death of Jesus. Even if the band was never quite your cup of tea in the past, I advise you not to pass up on this album. Not only is it a masterpiece in Christian music alone, but also sure to be the year’s very best.
Review by Zach for Alpha Omega News