Release Date: November 4th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Ascend to Heaven
- Best Thing
- Eyes Like Fire
- God, You Reign
- Wholly Yours
- I’m Free
- More & More of You
- Like No One Could
- The Wrestling
- The Future Is Bright
- We Believe
- The Sending
Previously signed to Integrity Music, husband and wife duo Richie and Dana Fike, under the moniker FIKE, released their label debut The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For, a collection of brand new worship songs and older hits from their independent albums. Though the release didn’t have the commercial acclaim that I think it probably should have (that album was probably one of the most underrated albums of 2012!), personally I enjoyed that album and loved the honest, vertical worship songs, as I realised that both Richie and Dana are some of the most talented songwriters in the CCM/worship industry right now. Fast forward 2 years, and we have FIKE’s latest album release, the vibrant, eclectic live project More Than Anthems, funded through kickstarter. Though it is not known why the band are not on Integrity Music anymore, this album is a gem, and is a favourite of mine in 2014. So let’s sit back and listen to about an hour of passionate, unbridled worship, as Richie, Dana and their band give God the glory and sing with fervour because He reigns!
Immediate my eyes draw to the Newsboys smash hit “We Believe” (which is in fact a cover, as Travis Ryan, Richie Fike and Matt Hooper were the writers!), with the track being the standout on a tracklist full of epic worship anthems. As “We Believe” opens with a powerful and epic guitar riff as well as a chilling piano undertone, this emphatic track has Richie and Dana emphatically declaring and proclaiming the Nicene Creed, professing what we as Christians believe about Jesus Christ. As believers, we can say without question and with certainty that we believe in the Trinity, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus Christ on Judgement Day in the future. While Rich Mullins gave us the biblically sound “Creed” (which was made famous by Third Day), which in essence says the same thing; it’s definitely nice to hear another explicit proclamation of our faith, in a different way, that ‘…the gates of hell will not prevail, for the power of God, has torn the veil, now we know Your love will never fail; we believe…’.
Another welcome recognisable track is the worshipful piano and strings focused “More And More Of You”, originally recorded by Selah. Essentially a prayer of gratitude and thanks; we earnestly and honestly cry out the explosive and impacting chorus, along with both vocalists ‘…Holy Spirit, give us revelation, healing visitation, nothing else will do…’ and ardently sing along as Richie and Dana faithfully make God’s name famous!
With “The Wrestling” and “Eyes Like Fire” rounding out the ‘old-ish’ tracks, FIKE continue to wow and amaze us with their heart for God and their ability to draw us into a place of vulnerability where we can just be ourselves in worship to our Father. The explosive mid tempo guitar ballad “Eyes Like Fire” uses quite a lot of metaphors and imagery to try to accurate depict Jesus and His love for us, and it’s clear that Richie and Dustin Smith’s songwriting is quite magical, and more cohesive and adventurous as the track progresses. This song is also on Dustin’s live album, and is just as epic, and I commend FIKE in their delivery of this ballad especially. Matching Travis Ryan’s version, Dana and Richie present the pinnacle of the album musically and lyrically. A hymn like song, I found myself drawn to quiet contemplative melody, as both vocalists belt out countless times how great, high, low and wide the love of God is, that He won’t ever let us go. Using plenty of metaphors within this gem of a song, as well as deploying the piano as the backdrop for God to move on this Spirit anointed worship experience, the part which gives me chills is on the bridge ‘… Oh these scars will sing a Hallelujah, Hallelujah; broken bones will bring a Hallelujah, Hallelujah…’. This song literally gives me goose bumps, and the songs only increase in depth and maturity from here in this live recording of unbridled and unashamed worship.
Though these 4 cover tracks impressed me, the brand new anthems and ballads are also inspiring and moving as well. “Ascend To Heaven”, the album opener, is a piano led mid tempo ballad, that beautifully speaks about running to where Jesus is, and going where He leads us, even if it is to the highest of heights or the lowest of lows. That’s a bold and daring prayer, however the chorus reminds us that that is what we ought to do because of everything God has done for us. He died on the cross for all humanity so that we can all be saved, so out of love for our Saviour, we should naturally want to follow Him wherever He leads. However this element of trust comes with time, and just the intentions to go where He sends us is enough, as we sing out with FIKE and praise God for who He is.
The electronic CCM/dance melody “Best Thing” sounds like Hillsong Young And Free or Planetshakers musically, and objectively is the weakest song on the album, as the lyrics remind us that ‘…oh Jesus, You’re the best thing…that’s ever happened to me…oh, oh, oh, woah, woah, woah, You are the best thing…’. The reviewer part of me says that the duo don’t have to be repetitive to win a crowd, however Richie and Dana’s enthusiasm and heart for Jesus cannot be denied, as FIKE continue to praise Jesus’ name and lift Him up high.
Songs like the piano led “Like No One Could”, with the violin added for depth, where Dana passionately reminds us of God’s sovereignty, love, omnipotence and holiness, while at the same time reassuring us that He is invested personally in each of our lives as ‘…You love me like no one could…like no one else…’; and the electric guitar rock praise and worship anthem “The Future Is Bright”, where Richie empathically relays that with God our future is bright and that with Him anything is possible because of His immense love for us, as ‘…You’re my need, You’re my hope for tomorrow…’; provide hope and reassurance that we’re not alone in this world, that God is with us and for us forever and ever. Similarly the mid tempo hymn like “I’m Free” invokes feelings of gratitude and hope, with the theme of freedom and worthiness oozing throughout where we are reminded that ‘…the love of God is all I ever need, these chains are gone, You’ve set this captive free…’, with the song being one of my favourites on the album! Richie and Dana have done it again, turning simple phrases into soon-to-be timeless classics!
The album closer is “The Sending”, a mid tempo spoken word track lasting for about 2 minutes, declaring the eternal truths about God, yet it is “God You Reign” and “”Wholly Yours” that take FIKE to a whole other level musically, lyrically and vocally! “God You Reign”,, written by Jennie Lee Riddle and Travis Ryan, is led by the piano and is a heartfelt, personal ballad, as both Richie and Dana prayerfully express their love and praise to God through imagery and explosive vocals. Outlining ‘…for You are holy, You are holy, Lord almighty, God You reign, worthy, none more worthy, King of glory, God You reign…’, we are once again astounded and amazed at the ability for FIKE to transport us to a place where we can worship God with no inhibitions and worries; these guys have recorded a fantastic song that is sure to be sung in churches everywhere soon.
Lastly, “Wholly Yours” musically starts off hymn like, and Dana places on her Kim Walker-Smith hat vocally. As the song builds and builds into an epic anthem, where it culminates mid-way through the song, the duo gently sing about giving our lives fully over to God, asking God to take it all, so that we are wholly His. That’s a bold prayer to pray, as we never know what will come out of it; however I commend these guys for standing firm and singing out their faith for all to hear! That takes real guts, well done guys, for a fantastic album full of God moments and worshipful melodies!
A worthy follow up to The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For, FIKE have recorded a fantastic live album in More Than Anthems! If every album they record ends up like this, then I say go for the kickstarters and stay indie! This album is a collection of songs of thankfulness to a God who has made the universe, but also loves us each enough to give up his Son to die in our place. With the worship firm and centre in these 11 gems and treasures, I look forward to hearing more from Richie and Dana in the future, and I have no doubt that they will impact the ministry that God has placed them in- these songs are proof that lives are changing! If you’re a fan of Hillsong, Newsboys, Chris Tomlin or Robbie Seay Band; then this album’s for you!
3 songs to listen to: Like No One Could, We Believe, Wholly Yours
RIYL: Chris Tomlin, Newsboys, Hillsong, Robbie Seay Band, Tim Hughes