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Sounds like … heavy rock similar to Audioslave, Blindside, and Nickelback, with an emo-screamo bent resembling Kids in the Way or Spoken, some hardcore nods to Korn and Tool, as well as pop metal similarities to Kutless and Building 429At a glance … The Reckoning is sometimes too haphazard stylistically and vague lyrically, but the overall strength and variation of Pillar's spiritually inspired rock should still endear them to their core fan baseTrack Listing Everything Awake When Tomorrow Comes The Reckoning Tragedy Last Goodbye Angel in Disguise Elysian Crossfire Resolution Sometimes Wherever the Wind Blows Chasing Shadows at Midnight
It was only a couple of indie projects before Pillar burst onto the Christian rock scene at the perfect time, riding closely on the trendy wave of hardcore nü-metal that P.O.D. helped start in 1999 with The Fundamental Elements of Southtown. Six years later, the Oklahoma quartet's lineup remains intact and continues to draw a strong following in America's heartland through a powerful presence on the rock tour circuit.
But rapcore rock is now considered passé and nü-metal isn't the hot commodity that it was six years ago. Nickelback and Audioslave are still creating a stir . . . Korn and P.O.D. less so. Where does Pillar's sound fit in all of this today, and do they have what it takes musically to carry their message for the long haul?
That's what I'm left to ponder after their fourth full-length project, The Reckoning. Say this much for Pillar—they're smart enough to keep from being confined to a musical fad. 2000's Above bore a strong resemblance to P.O.D., but now the two bands only compare in decibel level. As with 2004's Where Do We Go From Here, Pillar has embraced melodic hardcore with an emo-screamo bent, heard on tracks like "Last Goodbye," "Resolution," and "Chasing Shadows at Midnight." Whether that's good for the band is debatable—it's not a particularly distinctive style and the occasionally whiny vocal from Rob Beckley is less impressive than his deeper growls.
Better are "Awake" and the title track, catering a healthy helping of meat and potatoes hard rock akin to Audioslave and Nickelback, and the more intense hardcore of "Tragedy," reminiscent of Tool and Korn. Here the band sounds more in their element—stronger, more confident. Many will also be surprised by "Sometimes," which resembles a heavier Jimmy Eat World with a kickin' power pop sound that's quite different for Pillar, yet they pull it off and add a new tool to their kit.
p>Then there are the pop metal ballads, like "Angel in Disguise" and "Wherever the Wind Blows," the sort of fluff you'd expect more from Kutless and Building 429 (or Winger and White Lion). It's at this point you have to wonder whether the range is too broad. I'm mostly glad to see Pillar continually trying to evolve with the times, but there's a fine line between eclecticism and losing focus. It does admittedly help every song gain its own character, but you have to wonder if fans are comfortable with a band that sounds Korn-y one second and toothless the next. Or do they welcome it all as one big monster pop/rock spectrum?