Over Under Everything
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
This week's latest modern worship band is Circadian Rhythm (anyone keeping a running count for this year?). The five band members actually began their life as a band back in 1996, while they were attending Liberty University. They have a modern rock sound that should appeal to fans of U2, Radiohead, Delirious, and the Passion albums. At times, lead vocalist Will Pavone even sounds a lot like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, especially in the softer moments of songs such as "Ever My Love" and "Something Glorious." The rest of the band is also solid, featuring lots of the interesting and atmospheric guitar effects you'd expect from U2 and Radiohead. Still, despite some strong musicianship and a real heart for worship, Circadian Rhythm's Over Under Everything is a mixed bag when it comes to the songs themselves.
The album's first single, "Beautiful Savior," sounds a lot like Sonicflood—perhaps too much so because it doesn't match the songs on the rest of the album. It almost sounds overproduced by comparison, but it's nevertheless an exciting track. Most of the remaining songs on Over Under Everything have a strong U2 influence to them, which seems to be the current fad in worship these days. It's a good idea, because U2's style of music is indeed powerful, but it's becoming an overused source of inspiration. Nevertheless, Circadian Rhythm does do a good job of emulating U2's sweeping ballads (as heard in the beautiful "Something Glorious") as well as the aggressive anthemic rock feel heard in so many of the band's more politically charged songs ("Sounds of a Revolution" is a similar call for revival and change). Circadian Rhythm also does an excellent cover of U2's "Gloria" that's faithful to the original's powerful sound (complete with children's choir) while giving it a bit more of a modern edge. Other highlights include the simple but powerful ballad, "Into You," and the album's closer, "Let Us Gather." If only the rest of Over Under Everything were consistent with the best tracks. "Raise" sounds more like a Third Eye Blind song, almost bubble gum pop-rock in sound, while "We Are Hungry" and "More Like You" sound like routine praise and worship songs. "Where You Go" is especially boring when compared to the big sound of the album's better tracks, and the album would have been better off sounding more consistent.
The bigger problem with Circadian Rhythm is the lack of substantial lyrical content. Most of the songs only contain 8-12 lines of lyrics, and they often resort to the usual worship clichés found in so many other worship songs. For example, the song "We Are Hungry" has only 6 lines of lyrics ("We are hungry for more of You / We are thirsty for more of You … ") yet the song is almost 7 minutes long. In fairness the band didn't write the song, but it's so repetitive it lost all meaning to me—especially with other worship songs out there already saying the same thing with more eloquence ("Hungry (Falling On My Knees)" comes to mind). Likewise, "Raise" is your usual praise song about lifting our voices and hands to the Lord. Personally, I can't understand the need to be so oversimplified in modern worship. Yes, there is value in repetition of lyrics to drive a point home, but rock music by its very nature is pretty simple and easy to learn (verses and choruses). It's often said that words are not enough to express our praise to our Lord, but that shouldn't be an excuse for making worship mindlessly repetitive or vacant of original thought. Instead, because God is so awesome it should inspire endless ways to praise Him, rather than limit our expressions further.
By the end of Over Under Everything, Circadian Rhythm comes out a winner. A worship band earns a lot of artistic credibility by writing an album filled with original praise songs. Though not all the songs are winners, there are a few that are truly excellent. I would call Circadian Rhythm a work in process. They're not nearly as good as Delirious, Tree 63, or even Among Thorns; but they do have a lot going for them thanks to an aggressive modern rock sound, talented musicians, and original songwriting. If they can strengthen their songwriting skills and work at delivering a more musically consistent album in the future, I think Circadian Rhythm could become an exceptional and inspiring modern worship band.