There's A Light At The End Of This Tunnel

Nov 5, 2005 (Updated Nov 5, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Some Latin experimentation, Mac's voice, some good rocking tunes...

Cons:Lyrics aren't superb, some songs sound like earlier Third Day songs...

The Bottom Line: If you like Christian rock, and Third Day then pick it up. If this is your first exposure to Third Day I would recommend Wire first.

Third Day, one of Christian rock's biggest acts and also one of my favorite bands, have just released their eighth studio release entitled Wherever You Are. While Third Day's last cd Wire was a album filled with catchy southern rock tunes, Wherever You Are seems to be trying to attract more of an adult contemporary crowd by mellowing out the music. Not that there aren't any rock songs on this album, but they are few and far between. The main premise behind Wherever You Are is that God will meet you wherever you are, and is carried off well but also slightly cliched. Lead singer Mac Powell's voice sounds as good as ever, but it seems the rest of the band has turned down the knobs on the amps, resulting in a much more mellow album.

Wherever You Are kicks off with "Tunnel", a rocker very reminescent of Come On Back To Me from Wire. "Theres a light at the end of this tunnel for you", Mac croons backed up by the nice, tight rhythm section of drummer David Carr and bassist Tai Anderson. In the bridge lead guitarist Brad Avery lays down a nice tasty guitar solo, complemented by rhythm guitarist's Mark Lee's excellent playing. The next song "Eagles" starts off with a guitar riff very similar to "One" by U2, but this track never even comes close to the greatness of One. The lyrics, while taken from from the book of Isiah in the Bible, do absolutely nothing to relate the content to any personal experiences, which really hurts this song and the album as a whole. Tai does lay down a nice bass line despite the boring lyrics.

"Cry Out To Jesus", the first single, is next in line and improves on Eagles slightly. It was rushed to the airwaves after Hurricane Katrina in hopes of encouraging the people hit by the natural disaster. " There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing, He'll meet you wherever you are." The lyrics, although they may sound cliche, carry a emotion throughout the song that makes Cry Out To Jesus slightly above average. Written by Mark Lee, "I Can Feel It", is a upbeat rocker about the Holy Spirit. Featuring a highly addictive chorus and bridge, I Can Feel It is an album highlight that shows Third Day at their best. "Keep On Shinin'", track five, is the best song on Wherever You Are. With its Latin feel and good lyrics about standing strong in the world, once again provided by Mark Lee, it stands out above the rest of the songs on Wherever You Are.

Here is where the album enters a rut, with both "Communion" and "Carry My Cross" stuck in Casting Crowns mode(no one take this as an insult against Casting Crowns plese). Communion's lyrics remind us of the Jesus's death on the cross, and the act of Communion in our rememberence for it. "This is the body, this is the blood, broken and poured out, for all of us." But unfortunately, Communion sounds like a almost exact copy of King Of Glory from Third Day's Offerings album. Carry My Cross, with its lyrics from Jesus' perspective on his way to the cross, was done much better with Love Song off of Third Day's self-titled debut. Carry My Cross has a slight redeeming value as near the end of the song, some nice guitar licks come in. Neither of these songs are bad, but with the level of artistry I've come to expect from Third Day both they still feel like a letdown.

Luckily, the album picks up where it left off before Communion and Carry My Cross. "How Do You Know", throughout its sweet guitar riffs and cool chorus, tells people who judge other people far to quickly to, for lack of better words, to shut their trap. "How do you know, how do you know, what I'm supposed to be doing, why do you go, why do you go on, thinking you know my fate." One of the only songs on the album with lyrics that tackle a tougher issue than your normal everyday struggles. The next song "Mountain of God", was featured first on a compilation cd that Mac was on, and its good to see it make its way onto an official Third Day cd. Mountain of God also features some soulful background vocals, making Mac's voice sound even better, and transforming the song into a gospel song about how life's trials make one stronger.

With the last three songs Wherever You Are turns into a anthemic cry by the band to not give up on hope and love. "Love Heals Your Heart", written by Brad Avery, is the basic piano ballad telling people that love will be there to help them through trials and pain, but it has some very clever lyrical lines, showing Mr. Avery's talent for words. "Everybody has a wall to climb, that was built to to guard the pain that holds them captive." "The Sun Is Shining", pulls Third Day back into that Latin groove they were experimenting around with on Keep On Shinin', especially in the second verse. Nothing I love more than to see a band experiment with their sound slightly to see if they can pull off something. Once again however, Mac's lyrics ring a little cliche to these ears that have heard so many Christians songs echo the same theme. The album closer "Rise Up" again shows Brad Avery's good lyrical talent. Clocking in at 6:04, Rise Up is the album's longest song, with hope inspiring lyrics written from God's perspective. "So rise up my friend, no, this will never be the end, so rise up my friend, and live again." As the album comes to a close, Rise Up, with its climatic ending, shows what Third Day is really trying to say with this album. Hope is not lost, even admist all the trials and tribulations that seem to be attacking us. I think the last line of Rise Up sums the album up perfectly. " No matter what comes, my friend, nothing can keep you from the love of God."

My feeling are torn with Wherever You Are, on one hand I love the experimenting and the rock song, on the other the lyrics don't help the album and some songs suffer from repetiveness. This album is neither bad or great, but merely good. If Epinions had .5 ratings, this album would get a 3.5. But seeing as they don't, and I expect slightly more out of Third Day the album gets a 3. But if you enjoyed any of Third Day's previous albums, especially Come Together, you will probably like this. Also if you are a fan of Christian rock and are looking for a new band look no further than Third Day, but I would recommend their last cd Wire to start off your collection.

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