- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2009 2 Feb
- Hard to Believe
- Be Mine
- Love's Taken Over
- Not Finished
- I'll Go
- Give It to Me
- Free to Fail
- Save Ourselves
- Bye Bye
- In My Heart
Even though this is technically VOTA's debut disc, the band was previously known as Casting Pearls but changed its moniker due to obvious confusion with Casting Crowns. Nonetheless, the original act's membership remains intact featuring front man/guitarist Bryan Olesen, bassist Case Maranville and drummer Scott Rutz, alongside brand new addition Riley Friesen on guitars and keyboards.
Besides the new name and extra player, this self-titled CD also finds the alternative rock act earning a slight sonic face lift, kicking up the juice in both their arena rock and in their ability to fill the dance floor.
"Hard To Believe" launches the collection with jarring guitars, monstrous melodies and hooks galore, finding justifiable company alongside Foo Fighters, Switchfoot, or Sanctus Real. "Not Finished" continues with crunching guitar strums and Olesen's mighty shouts—also highly reminiscent of Jeff Buckley or Seven Day Jesus front man Brian McSweeney.
VOTA also explores soulful pop and dance rock with "Give It to Me," which will likely to fall in favor with fans of Maroon 5, Franz Ferdinand, or '90s era Newsboys. Outside of embarking on a spring tour with that latter act, Olesen also served as the group's guitarist during its Adoration era and showcases that same vertical approach in the contiguously catchy "Love's Taken Over" and "I'll Go."
Lyrically, VOTA picks right up where Casting Pearls left off, focusing on relevant themes for a teen and twenty-something audience, while always interjecting spiritual foundations within seeker friendly anthems. "Free to Fail" is hands down the most meaningful example of this balance, discussing how Christ's mercy can cover even our most glaring faults. Between those hopeful sentiments, a plethora of songs sure to get stuck in listeners' heads, and just the right amount of groove within its alternative rock equation, they'll be no mistaking this innovative act.