Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flyleaf - Remember To Live

Years ago, under the name "Passerby", Flyleaf wrote and recorded a group of songs and rough demos.  Throughout the years these songs were either never released, or they were leaked for not-so-legal downloading.  Some of these tracks found a home during live shows, as they were heard exclusively at random live performances.  Finally, after years of waiting, Flyleaf re-recorded and officially released a handful of those songs.

The album starts off with the "Violent Love" version of "Justice & Mercy" from the band's Much Like Falling EP.  The previously released version was filled with distortion and Lacey Sturm's startling screams.  This version is the complete opposite.  It's soft and mostly acoustic.  I actually prefer it over the original recording.

The next five songs, the core of the album, are the main attraction of the EP.  These tracks are new to many Flyleaf followers, while others have heard them either through leaks or live shows.  The first of the five is "Okay".  It features backup vocals from Flyleaf's bassist, Pat Seals.  "Okay" is still softer than most of the band's usual material.  It's slightly similar to the tracks on their sophomore album, or Memento Mori's, second disk.  The next track is "Amy Says".  With the highlight of a soaring chorus, "Amy Says" is another solid song.  The vocal levels are a little low during some parts of the song, but it isn't too distracting.

Track four, "Dear My Closest Friend", is my favorite from the album.  It's gentle and sincere.  The song is an open letter of apologies and memories.  The melody stands out from all of the other choruses and riffs.  A close runner-up would be the descending melody after the climax on "Light In Your Eyes".  "Believe In Dreams", which comes after "Light In Your Eyes", has a certain familiarity to it and is a great ending to the newly released tracks.

Unfortunately, the biggest flaw with Remember To Live is the final single.  Ben Moody's remix of "Arise", originally from Memento Mori, feels out of place.  The mix is chaotic and leaves you longing for the non-mixed version.  The amazing lyrics are overshadowed by the deep shattering drums and added effects.

Overall, Remember To Live is a satisfying collection of rarities.  Longtime fans of the band will enjoy hearing the previously unreleased material.  New listeners will most likely want to start with one of Flyleaf's full length releases.  This EP is much lighter than Flyleaf's well known singles, it's completely void of Lacey's screams.  Remember To Live, minus the disappointing remixed "Arise", is just enough to satisfy fans until their next full length album.

Flyleaf is also set to digitally release a cover of John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" on December 21.  Download it for an extra bonus track.

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