Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anthem Song Review

Let's take a moment to step back and observe Aaron Gillespie's career. During his time with the wildly successful post-hardcore powerhouse, Underoath, he was the glue that held the group together through its years of interchanging members. And with them he provided his clean, powerful vocals to contrast the harsh screams, and in a way he helped to perfect the style. During the later period of his Underoath career, he also built up his side-project, The Almost, who were a softer rocking group with a very similar religious message to them. Now in an attempt to find his comfort zone with a side-project to his side-project, Gillespie has gone solo to explore a more overtly religious backbone for his music. Much like the music that came with The Almost, Gillespie's debut LP Anthem Song is both a soft-rock and an acoustic effort with a touch of folk, however now with a very distinct feeling of gospel. As for the religious background that remained mostly dormant during his time with both Underoath and The Almost, it now rears its head in the most blatant fashion possible as Gillespie sings exclusively of Jesus and God; Heaven and Hell. If ever there were any doubts of Mr. Gillespie's devotion to big J.C., please allow him to dispel them in the blandest of fashions. 

In the twelve tracks that make up Anthem Song, Gillespie explores several different and equally strange ways of representing Jesus Christ and God in the form of odd metaphors. The first comes with track three, "Washed Away", in which the love and glory of God comes down in the form of rain and Aaron drinks it like a slushee in the heat of a scorching summer day. This is the tip of the iceberg for what comes with the rest of the religious lyricism on the remainder of the record, which consists entirely of Gillespie speaking of the higher powers with supreme adoration, but with no real variation. It's the stagnancy in both the writing and musicianship that has Anthem Song dragging itself along to its ultimately forgettable conclusion. The instrumentation of the record is, as expected, entirely composed of soft-rock and the occasional pluck of the acoustic guitar merely placed there for the convenience of calling this music. At no point does Gillespie show any sign of wanting to break out from the formulaic and dreadfully bland writing that stagnates the record, and thusly his efforts are sinking from the moment they set off. 

From a far and away viewpoint, it would seem that Gillespie has everything necessary to make a successful solo record. He has the experience, the magnificent vocal talent, and the ability to craft a decent song as shown by his few decent acoustic moments - but unfortunately his writing is the giant chip in the armor. While many of the things present on Anthem Song may fit perfectly for the target demographic, they fall massively short of anything worth buying, or worth listening to for any who are unfamiliar with it. Unfortunately for all involved, Anthem Song lacks any personality, creativity, and most surprisingly, perhaps, heart. Gillespie shovels in song after song about the same subject matter that was run down and tired from track one and recycles metaphors like they're used bibles. There is nothing new, there is nothing unique, there is just the torn out thesaurus page for the word "love". 

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