Release Date: August 21st 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Lost In Your Love
- We Will Rise Up
- You Have Won My Heart
- Fire Fall Down
- An Encounter
- Set Us Free
- Set The World On Fire
- Back Into Your Arms
- Just One Touch
- Reveal Yourself
After bursting onto the scene in 2013 with their debut album Revival on Sparrow Records, and also with smash hit songs “Revival”, “Spirit Break Out” and “Count The Stars”, Soulfire Revolution, comprising of Lorena, Julian, Paola, Jose and Richard, is now poised to release Afterglow, their second album and their first on Dream Records, next week. Though there are plenty of worship bands/movements in the spotlight these days, from Passion, Hillsong, Planetshakers and Bethel Live to Jesus Culture and Vertical Church Band, Soulfire Revolution, in my opinion stands out in their new live album, deserving its place amongst the CCM/worship greats. What makes them unique, is that the 5 piece modern worship electronic band have a great diversity in music, and they’re also from Colombia. So their sound is something probably no one from the U.S. have ever heard that much, maybe except for other Spanish artists such as Jaci Velasquez and Salvador; and that is certainly a good thing. The lead single “Set The World On Fire” is taking off at radio, and with ballads, upbeat rock anthems, and everything else in between; Soulfire Revolution’s Dream Records’ debut is something to savour many times. Have I convinced you enough to buy Afterglow this coming week? No? Let me convince you some more!
Opening the album is the stirring and emphatic worship anthem “Arise”, where Richard emphatically and majestically sings out that Jesus reigns above on high, we are met with a prayer and song of adoration and praise, relaying that Jesus is alive and active in our lives. Honest and real, we are encouraged to sing along that ‘…with our hands lifted high, with our voice, we will cry, let Your love come alive, let Your church arise…’, amongst the synth and electronic effects and the similarities here to Hillsong Young And Free. As the quintet set the tone for the rest of the album, with simple yet effective worship, I an left to marvel at this talented group, as we proclaim that Jesus is risen and is worthy of our praise.
The dance anthems continue as the album progresses. “Lost In Your Love” has Lorena ardently declaring that ‘…I give You my heart, I give You my soul, come take it all, I’m lost in Your love….’, followed by an intense remix and synth led instrumental refrain where we are free to spontaneously dance and sing in our own words just how awesome God is. While the mid-tempo ballad “Set Us Free”, also led by Lorena, is led by captivating synth and explosive remix and dance effects, and passionately highlights that God has set us free and that we are now alive to live for Him and in the plans He has set for us. As Lorena inspires us and reminds us that ‘…Jesus You never change, Your mercies still remain forever…’, the drum solo in the middle of the album is another element that makes this album quite unique as I ardently sing in wonder and praise along with the band.
The album closer “Afterglow”, sung by Richard, is yet another one of the rockier, more energetic melodies, as we are reminded that Jesus is the light in our lives, and that He deserves all the praise and glory. As the band eloquently remind us that ‘…You are the spark, You turn our embers into flame, You are the light, we are reflections of Your perfect love, You are the fire, so let us burn forevermore, we are the afterglow…’, it is the imagery and metaphors highlighting the fact that we are the conduits of Christ’s love, that we can and should share it to everyone we meet, by being Jesus to others around us. Yet out of all the upbeat material, it is “Set The World On Fire”, the lead single, that piques my interest and grabs my attention, as Richard and co earnestly sings out that ‘…we want to set the world on fire, it starts on the inside, starts on the inside…’. A more radical change and a different perspective on life are generally what entails from immersing ourselves in Christ’s love, and as the band yearn to be set more ablaze for Him, so that we can spread the gospel to everyone they meet, we are encouraged to do the same. Well done guys, for singing about Jesus and His unending qualities as we dance and proclaim His goodness and love.
While Soulfire Revolution do a fine, fine job at recording the more upbeat and danceable worship anthems, it is the remaining 7 piano led ballads that tug and pull at my emotions and heart strings more, and will probably impact many more listeners as well. “We Will Rise Up”, a simple yet effective piano led melody sung by Richard, and later on built up to an epic crescendo and an orchestral and synth led big finish; is an earnest prayer to God, outlining that we will rise up and stand for Jesus in a world where much of the mainstream culture is against Christianity. Running against the crowd is hard to do, yet that is exactly what Soulfire Revolution is suggesting that we actively do- stand up for what we believe in regardless if we’re the only one or not, as evident in this song.
While album highlights and piano led ballads “You Have Won My Heart” and “Fire Fall Down”, both led by Lorena, are also destined to become fan favourites and/or album singles. The former is an honest prayer of admitting that we need God and that He has won over our hearts, that He is the only one who washes us clean, as ‘…for all You are is all I need, I’m seeking You until I find You, there’s nowhere else I’d rather, I fall upon Your endless mercy…’; and the latter the second single on the album, where both Lorena and Richard trade vocals flawlessly and near effortlessly, relaying that ‘…I am Your temple, I lay my life down, offer my all, Lord come burn in me…’, a transparent admission that we are God’s and He can do with us what He wants. And both melodies, though quite long, don’t seem to drag though, unlike tracks from other artists like Planetshakers and Hawk Nelson, and that is always a good thing. Standing at just over 3 minutes, the next ballad “An Encounter” is a spontaneous song of sorts, as the band ardently remind us that being in relationship with Jesus is bound to change us from the inside out, as we are not the same as we once were. As the band long for Jesus’ presence and for an encounter, so should we as Christians long for a different perspective and outlook on life as well.
The piano led “Back In Your Arms” is yet another personal album highlight, as Lorena fervently cries out and simply sings that she loves Jesus, that ‘…my heart is Yours, my soul is Yours, I love You Lord, I’ll never be alone, You came for me, left everything, I’m coming back, back into Your arms…’ (and there is another epic full band crescendo later on the song to give the song greater depth!), and “Just One Touch” is yet another melody outlining how great and awesome Jesus is, as the band sing out that Jesus can head us with just one touch, and just one word of His voice, which is a modern retelling of the story of the woman touching Jesus’ cloak in the New Testament. Yet it is the 7 minute long “Reveal Yourself” which sums up the whole message and theme of the album. Lorena’s vocals have never been more vulnerable, pristine and captivating than it is here, and the subject matter, while simplistic at times, is never more effective and inspiring than it is in this song. Asking God to reveal more and more of Himself to us every day, Lorena unashamedly sings out ‘…come let me see Your glory here…come flood this place with Your majesty, You’re all I need…’. The perfect song for personal and corporate worship, Lorena, Richard and co have recorded a compelling and near-flawless worship album, set to break down worship music barriers and preconceived ideas, while also redefining what worship sounds like.
So, after this whole review, have I convinced you to buy Soulfire Revolution’s new album Afterglow? By sophomore album standard’s it’s pretty good (personally it’s the best sophomore worship album since Kari Jobe’s Where I Find You!), and no doubt they’re the dark horse for the Dove Awards next year. Previously I was always wary of international acts, as sometimes their meaning doesn’t get translated into the album that’s been produced outside of their hometown, but Lorena, Richard, Julian, Anthony and Paola have expertly and skilfully crafted 11 tracks of honest worship songs to God, and that’s not an easy task to do straight up by any means, especially since it’s a live project, which is recorded flawlessly. But the main question is will this Colombian outfit be as popular as Hillsong or Jesus Culture in the coming years? Only time will tell, but things are looking up for now. Well one guys, I can’t wait for your next album, whenever it releases!
4 songs to listen to: You Have Won My Heart, Reveal Yourself, Back Into Your Arms, Set The World On Fire
RIYL: Warr Acres, Jesus Culture, Hillsong Young And Free, Kari Jobe, Chris Tomlin