Rend Collective Experiment - Homemade Worship By Handmade People
Last modified: 06 Jan 2012

Rend Collective Experiment - Homemade Worship By Handmade People
The difficult second album, this is the stage that Rend Collective Experiment are at. When LTTM first discovered this band back in early 2010 with their first album Organic Family Hymnal I told you, "Rend Collective Experiment have made the album I had been waiting for my whole Christian life, and I don't say these words lightly... Is Organic Family Hymnal a revolution in Christian Music? Yes! So join the revolution". And what a last two years it has been, from gigs around the UK and playing all the big festivals, to sold out tours support Christ Tomlin in the US. It's been a busy few years for the Northern Ireland band.

Now they are back with their second album which is cleverly named 'Homemade Worship By Handmade People'. Do the guys stumble with the pressure of recording that difficult second album? Or are we about to hear a great new worship album? Thankfully, it's the latter.

Opening number Praise Like A Firework bursts into life with a bang-bash-boom, using anything the band can get their hands on to make a thumping noise. This is fast paced praise that doesn't let up at any stage, this is the kind of song you jump on for the ride and let the song take you where it wants to go. The song keeps moving along at a pace with a chorus of "You've given us a heart, you've given us a home with you.. yeah yeah...". There is something quite 80's about this track, and if I was a better reviewer I would name check some obscure 80's band, but for now let me just say this is a brilliant start.

Next up is the track that has been around for a while for the band, making appearances in their live set for the last two years. You Are My Vision will be well known to many as a classic hymn, but this is of course Rend's version. Can I add, I love this version so much. It has such passion and well driven bass and drums from Pat and Gareth Gilekson that it is completely different to the original. Rend Collective have been compared by many as sounding a bit like Mumford & Sons and if that band made a cover version of this hymn then it would be very close to sounding like Rend's version.

A dance beat kicks of The Cost and is the one song I went into work singing all day, with a very worshipful and strong chorus of "I've counted up the cost, oohhh I've counted up the cost, yeah I've counted up the cost and yes you're worth it". What makes this song even better are all the hidden extra bits that I didn't notice at first. Some clever claps, vocals and guitar picking that are not just clever but exciting to listen to, I still keep finding different things that jump out at me. Towards the end of the song the tempo is taken down to just an acoustic guitar and Chris Llewlleyn singing with his warm vocal the chorus "...And you're worth it."

The big anthems keep coming, this time with a slower tempo on Second Chance which is the big power ballad similar to You Bled from the first album. I love the bass work on this one and it is certainly going to be played in worship times around the churches in the next few years. This song is gelled together nicely and is a very tightly knitted worship song with a message about the cross giving us a second chance, this is one thing we all are given because of what Jesus did for us. A strong message and a great anthem that builds in power in all the right places.

True Intimacy starts in the creative way we have come to know and love from The Rend Collective guys, with a glockenspiel playing a high pitched melody that a piano copies until a drum beat lifts the tempo. This is a beautiful little number right in the middle of the album, taking the intensity of the album down a few levels which is kind of what is needed, with the female vocals adding a moment of freshness. It isn't too long until we are back into the gritty, in your face, worship track 'Build Your Kingdom Here'. Opening with a chorus that I'm positive is as good as anything out at the moment, the song starts with "Come set your rule and reign, in our hearts again, increase in us we pray, unveil why we're made, come set our hearts ablaze with hope, like wild fire in our very souls, holy spirit come invade us now". With just an acoustic guitar to start the song off, the rest of the band emerge with a thumping distinctive Rend drum beat. If you liked the words that open the song then the chorus will inspire you even more, "Build your kingdom here, let the darkness flea, show your might hand, heal our streets and land. Set your church on fire, win this nation back, change the atmosphere, build your kingdom here...we pray".

Back to a slower pace now, Desert Soul starts off atmospheric and a little dark with a picked guitar adding to this mood. With words that are about the soul really craving for more of God, this is one intense track and not the usually jolly Rend Collective we have come to know over the last few years. You know when people talk about a piece of work that is clever, arty, heartfelt, operatic, intense, acute, fierce and powerful - this one song is all of that. You feel you go on a roller-coaster journey just in one song. Words don't express how great a piece of work this is, yet the message is a simple one, the words are just asking for more of God. Wow. This is one song that has to be heard this year and changes the band from a good solid folk band to an epic band that are up there with the best.

Keep Me Near and Alabaster are more of the acoustic folk sound we have come to know and love from the band and a great addition to the album. But for me the powerful ending track is another strong song. Thumping drums and picking guitars praising God on Shining Star which is again a great powerful praise song with a chorus of "What a picture of love... You are magnificent, you are my rescuer...". In a perfect way it fully rounds off the album, you feel you have been on a full journey and what a great journey it is. The trumpets, drums, bass and guitars all singing out "Shining star come and guide our hearts". What a perfect way to end any album.

So there you have it. I love all the songs for different reasons and that's what makes a great album, a mix of styles and sounds but keeping to a great theme. The whole albums feels like a journey. The production is different to the first album. I loved the rawness of the first album, and so did a lot of you guys, but this new album is much more polished and produced, some might think the band have moved away from their raw side that made them so popular. But I see it differently. This new album is like an older brother, it's more complete, rounded, mature, bigger and polished, yet still wants its youthful crazy side to come out at times. Who was worried about the difficult second album syndrome? Not The Collective.

Review by Jono Davies

Standout Tracks
The Cost
Desert Soul
Build Your Kingdom Here
LTTM Rating:

More articles about Rend Collective
News: Rend Collective Confirms 'Campfire II: Simplicity' Available This November
News: Rend Collective Announce 'Campfire II' Album To Be Released This Year

Latest Releases: