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Begin Again

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jul
Begin Again
Sounds like … an offshoot of Cross Culture similar to the melodic modern rock of Tait, the metal-influenced rap-rock of Thousand Foot Krutch, the post-grunge AC of Building 429, and classic pop-metal bands like Petra and Foreigner.At a glance … like the debut from Cross Culture before them, this album from spin-off band Over Ashes isn't remarkable, but it still manages to engage with talent, hooks, and classic/modern rock hybrid.Track Listing Hangin' On
Where I Want to Be
She Won't
The Author
Annual Father
All I Need
One of These Days

Remember Cross Culture and their national debut Proof Positive from 2006? Though the trio never quite hit it big, they earned a small devoted following and did okay for relatively independent newcomers. But the band is now on hiatus after Selectric Records went under later that year. In the meantime, lead singer and bassist Justin David has moved on to form a second band with longtime friend Denver Shindle called Over Ashes, giving added meaning to the title of their debut Begin Again.

Their band name inspired by Isaiah 61:3, Over Ashes is as all over the map as Cross Culture was—though in a good way most of the time. Producers Justin Glasco (Jeremy Camp) and Justin York (Tait) help lend credence to the sound, which blends together classic pop-metal influences like Petra and Foreigner with the more modern sounds of Thousand Foot Krutch and Building 429. The results are actually pretty catchy. Check out the slickly executed rhythms of "Annual Father, " and David's dynamic vocals shine again, reminiscent of superstars like John Elefante and Lou Gramm. But the band seems to suffer an identity crisis with "Riot," a questionable mix of rap-rock, glam metal, and The Doors—"Wave" has a similar problem, but fares better.

The album also has the air of a lightweight about it, especially with some basic songs about growing in faith ("Hangin' On") and wanting to live like the Lord (radio single "Where I Want to Be"), though "The Author" is a thoughtful love letter from God's perspective and "All I Need" is a beautiful, acoustic worship anthem. It's a lukewarm album of pop-flavored rock with some edge—sometimes routine, often simplistic, but nevertheless likeable. Much like our review of Cross Culture's debut, Over Ashes seems to be on the verge of developing something better, but still manages to overcome songwriting cliché s and formulas with sheer musical talent and hooks.

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