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For the Love of the Game

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Feb
For the Love of the Game
Sounds like … the melodic, pop-influenced hard rock of Thousand Foot Krutch, Disciple, Linkin Park, Spoken, Red, Seether, and Finger ElevenAt a glance … some of the songs are a little hackneyed, but overall, Pillar sounds more invigorated and focused on their fifth album, showing newfound energy and inspiration in their faster pop-metalTrack Listing For the Love of the Game Turn It Up Reckless Youth State of Emergency Smiling Down The Runaway Throwdown Get Back I Fade Away Forever Starts Now

"Who are you, and what have you done with Pillar?"

That's how I imagine some fans respond to the hard rock band's sonic shifts with every album. After listening to For the Love of the Game, I honestly had to go back and confirm for myself the difference with every release—from Above's funky rap-rock and the nü-metal of Fireproof to hard rock on Where Do We Go From Here and The Reckoning's mix of modern rock with pop ballads. Stylistic variation is often admirable (see The Beatles), but there's a difference between experimenting with your sound and searching for one.

Pillar's plight is understandable, since most nü-metal bands from the last 5-10 years (e.g. Linkin Park, P.O.D.) are also struggling to find their identity. The good news is this is the best the Tulsa, Oklahoma foursome has sounded since Fireproof, embracing the same sort of melodic pop-metal heard on recent projects from Thousand Foot Krutch, Disciple, and Spoken. The music is crisper and more energized, particularly fast rockers like "The Runaway," "Throwdown," and the title track.

The lyrics, however, remain a mixed bag. Pillar excels at writing from a hopeful and clear-cut Christian perspective, yet never proselytizing enough for non-believers to object to. "State of Emergency" is a well worded call to serve, "Reckless Youth" challenges us to shine the love of Christ without fear of consequences, and the title track runs with St. Paul's sports racing metaphor from 1 Corinthians 9. Other tracks are more typical Christian rock anthems about spiritual warfare ("Throwdown") and perseverance ("Get Back"), while "Smiling Down" is the sort of power ballad about keeping watch over loved ones from heaven that will strike listeners as either poignant or cheesy.

"Turn It Up" deserves special mention, celebrating the history of Christian pop/rock using song/album titles by 34 artists for the verses (much like Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"). A clever idea, but it ends up as meaningless as fridge magnet poetry stringing phrases together: "I can only imagine all of the magic that would happen if we all come together … I can hear sounds of melodies and the remedy that comes when you lift me up from the flood, in the sea of faces."

Pillar nevertheless seems more focused and invigorated on this enjoyably rocking album. Of course, we've no reason to believe that they'll sound anything like this next time.

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