American hard rock group Flyleaf are back with their fourth studio album, Between the Stars, their first release since signing with Loud and Proud Records.
Produced by the iconic Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Three Days Grace), this album also welcomes the very talented Kristen May, formerly of Vedera, who replaced lead vocalist Lacey Sturm after she quit in 2012.
With the platinum success of their self-titled debut in 2005, Flyleaf were projected into the public consciousness – gaining fans from both Christian and metal circles for Sturm’s often religious imagery and the bands immense musical skill. With the departure of Sturm, Between the Stars may be less religious in nature, however the band has shown that they have maintained their appeal with this immensely satisfying release.
The opening track, Set Me on Fire, immediately makes an impact, drawing attention with its heavy bass line. Straight away we see justification for Kristen May joining the band, her voice is gutsy and holds itself well against the powerful instrumentals. This track is full of energy, spurred on by that brooding bass line and a solid beat that carries you along with it. Instantly gripping and noticeable, Set Me on Fire is an excellent introduction to the album.
May’s delivery is difficult to ignore. The unpredictable nature of her vocals is especially clear in the following two tracks, Magnetic and Traitor – Traitor sounding somewhat evocative of No Doubt. While it is unusual, her unpredictable delivery is alluring, as you never quite know what to expect.
In addiction, Flyleaf don’t fit comfortably in any single genre and are often described as anything from alternative rock, to post-grunge, nu-metal or even Christian rock. Their transcending of genres is evident throughout Between the Stars, with the heavily distorted guitar of tracks like Well of Lies easily switched for a lighter piano driven tune such as Head Underwater. Then comes a track like City Kids.
For anyone familiar with Flyleaf’s past discography this atmospheric and sensitive tune may be a surprising direction for the band, however you could say City Kids lulls you into a false sense of security. The verse is easily digestible and sounds almost like an indie-pop tune, but the chorus comes in strong and loud, and is followed by a greatly unexpected blood-curdling scream that sends chills down your spine. This is certainly one to listen out for, as it seems to capture the flexibility of this very unique band.
While die-hard fans might still be mourning the absence of Lacey Sturm, Between the Stars has proven that Kristen May is the perfect replacement, with the passion, energy and knockout vocals to keep this band great. The album finishes on a hopeful note with Home, which provides an uplifting conclusion to an all round rewarding album.