See the Light - Maranatha
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
I think it's fairly obvious from the name of the group and the title of their debut EP Maranatha that they're at least a fairly "christian" band. Of course, from band to band, time and time again this is a gimmick; a simple way for metalcore bands to tap into the ever-growing market of religious music. Delving deeper into Maranatha, however, it can be seen that See the Light isn't using a vague religious agenda to peddle their music. That is, the Christian influence on the album is nearly as brow-beating as the music itself.
I won't condemn the band for expressing their religion through their art. The lyrical aspect of the album, however, is a tad lacking. Maranatha is purely worship music. Not in the way that, say, Underoath expresses their religious ideas, but in the way the Aaron Pelsue Band does. While this makes for great sing-alongs at Christian festivals for the people who are into that kind of thing, in the context of an album that contains fiercely weilded guitars, power chords and throat-searing screaming, they seem fairly out of place. Of course, the worship-esque lyrics are usually brought in in the singing portions of the song which, if better executed, could have helped their delivery quite a bit. The best instances where their vocalist isn't wishing death upon his vocal chords are the spoken word vocals, particularly in "Brave the Seas."
As far as sonic execution goes, these guys have the metalcore thing down pat. The musicians work well together, and the guitarists' blistering styles mix great with the fierce vocalist. This, truthfully, is all a repeat you've heard before, but it's executed well and doesn't sound nearly as gimmicky as some of the other bands playing the same style. The songs where the band really shines are the longer ones from the album, and whether that's a coincidence or not, I'm not entirely sure. With "Brave the Seas" and the title track reaching seven and eight minutes, these two tracks not only make up a large majority of the album but also make up, as I said, the best part of it. These two, unlike the others from the album, take a more creative approach. This is particularly true in "Brave the Seas" where they manage to meld the blistering first half with that of the post-metal-esque latter half (which comes out sounding quite a bit like Hands). The heavily overlayed piano and synth parts create an interesting atmosphere in many of the tracks and lend them a bit of a creative edge since many of the piano tracks seem to be, in harsh opposition to the music, fairly whimsical and upbeat. The keyboard player definitely has his instrument down, and the piano parts in "Readers Beware... You Choose the Scare" completely make that track shine (despite it being of the more generic variety compared the two mentioned earlier).
As far as the Christian heavy music scene goes, I have to say that See the Light has an approach that is both more honest and well executed than many of their peers. While I hate to pigeonhole them into a "genre," their worship styling really does put them in a certain position where some people will love it simply for its message, while others will hate it. While I'm not huge on their religious leaning, I do have to say that I'm rather impressed with Maranatha. They've proven that they're talented, and the longer and more expressive songs on the album show a band that has the creative drive to, someday, hopefully create a full length that hinges more upon the aspects displayed in these two songs in contrast to the more generic and straight metalcore sounds displayed in the other tracks.
The keys in Sights Set Dead Ahead were.... interesting, to say the least :P They weren't bad at all but I haven't really heard any other metalcore band using them in that way, except for maybe Harp and Lyre. I guess I'm just really used to metalcore bands using them for symphonic (like Winds of Plague) and/or techno-ish (like We Came as Romans, I See Stars, Attack Attack etc) elements.
But overall this band seems pretty good. Review was good too :)