Have you ever gotten a CD that you immediately think that you're going to hate? Then even after your first listen you still kind of want to hate it? Well this was my take on Pillar's Confessions CD (Essential Records). But as I've learned with growing up (clearing my throat..) good is good. And Pillar's latest 10 track release is just that, a really good record.
I had no history with this band going into this review and actually had never heard of them before but doing some homework on them I found out that they are a Christian band and I for one was very surprised. For those who don't think that they like Christian Rock, you are in for a surprise. Much like the under appreciated and influential King's X did in the '80's & '90's with their religious beliefs, Pillar has kept the preaching to a minimum and instead have opted for a more subtle approach with uplifting lyrics and a more positive message, all done in a modern metal/alternative rock way. These guys can write a hook, that's for sure, and Confessions is full of them. It really is almost impossible to dislike these guys.
Confessions opens with heavy rocker, "Fire On The Inside" featuring one groove heavy guitar riff that instantly reminds me of something that the mighty Sevendust would throw at you. It just locks you in and then throws down some serious swagger. Main songwriters, singer Rob Beckley and guitarist Noah Henson (along with some guest song celebrators, have found a way to create huge sweeping, get stuck in your head choruses that at the same time aren't quite TOO sticky sweet. Fans of bands like Breaking Benjamin will absolutely love these guys. Out of the 10 tracks on Confessions, there are 3 radio friendly ballads that quite honestly all could be huge hits. These are the pull at your heart strings type of songs but somehow you just don't find yourself hating them. And yes the girls will eat these songs up, but at the same time they are excellently crafted songs filled with beautifully orchestrated string arrangements. Songs like "Better Off Now", "Lose It All" and the acoustic guitar driven, "Will You Be There" are each excellent examples of great songwriting, no matter how sappy it may seem. Are the sentiments new? Of course not, but at least this ain't the Jonas Bros.!!! Pillar shows that there is a way to both write guitar fueled heavy rock and also show a talent when writing a heart felt ballad. Like I said, I really wanted to not like this, but…
I found myself listening to Confessions over and over again and never getting sick of it and yes, even the ballads. The thing is, these ballads have an almost '70's vibe to them and are not at all annoying like the Pop "soup du jour" that the airwaves are force feeding you these days. But it's the heavy rockers like "You Are Not The End", "Call To Action" or my personal favorite, "Not Without a Fight" that show Pillar at their finest. Great vocals from Rob Beckley and just an overall crushing production are just a couple of things that makes Confessions a killer record. So is there a bad point? For me it would be the inclusion of the Collective Soul hit from the '90's, "Shine". I personally couldn't stand the original version but I can say that Pillar do, do a nice job of both kicking it in the ass and at the same time playing it close to the vest and not changing the song.
Not knowing much about Pillar before this review, I found out that they have sold nearly 1 Million records, been nominated for a Grammy Award, and had 10 #1 radio singles at the Christian Rock level. This is all incredible considering I had never even heard of them prior to this review. But Christian Rock or not, Pillar are a great band and deserve to break through to the mainstream heavy rock audience. Confessions is their 6th, YES, sixth record and CD worth checking out. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And like I said, good is good.
1. Fire On The Inside
2. Whatever It Takes
3. Secrets And Regrets
4. Better Off Now
5. Not Without A Fight
6. Will You Be There Shine
7. Call To Action
8. Lose It All
9. You Are Not The End