When I first heard the Alabama-based rock outfit Nine Lashes’ first independent album, Escape, I immediately compared them to Breaking Benjamin for their powerful vocals, heavy and sorrowful riffs and tranquilizing beats. As a huge fan of Breaking Benjamin, I was naturally very excited to hear Nine Lashes’ future work.
Then their second album came out, and via the good word of Trevor McNevan (Thousand Foot Krutch, FM Static), it was on Tooth and Nail and features some songs obviously influenced by TFK (McNevan assisted with the lyrics and production). It still kept its own original flavor, though.
Then comes this record, the band’s latest From Water to War. Laced with techno-rock beats and a generous handful of ‘whoa-oh-ohs,’ (especially “Break the World,” “Where I Belong” and “Cover Your Own”), it initially comes off a little awkward, especially when you hear the vocal enhancements in songs like “Love Me Now” and “Break the World.”
Musical highlights on FWTW include “Die in the Dark”, the nu-metal “Light It Up,” and the soaring anthem “Surrender.” Even after hearing the album four times, the majority of the songs floated by inconspicuously. I continually confused the first three songs during my first few runs through the album.
Lyrically, From Water to War is an improvement. The words aren’t exactly thought provoking or poetic, but they are straightforward and confident – a refreshing aspect in an industry that seems to churn out shallow or overly complex lyrics.
Many of the songs deal with repentance, assurance in God’s protection and turning away from the world. For example, from “Die in the Dark”: “I can’t find my way out, I don’t want to wander here for days / shadows surround me, I’ve never been here before / I need you to save me, it seems like I’m falling apart.” (It also quotes Psalm 42:10 right before several screams of “save me” cry out near the bridge, which truly added something new to the song.)
There is nothing wrong with the idea of experimenting with a CCM-ready hard rock hybrid, and for the most part, From Water to War does stay within the boundaries of rock. But since their origins lay with a slightly heavier and unpolished form of rock, From Water to War is anticlimactic at best and generic at worst.