Release Date: Oct 30, 2012
Record label: A&M
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal
Worshipping guitar almost as much as God, these devout Texan alt-rockers deliver a third full-length of mostly hits but a few misses. New Horizons puts recently departed frontwoman Lacey Sturm’s vocals center stage on songs ranging from the clean-riffed, Paramore-esque “Cage on the Ground” to the heavy-metal caterwaul “Green Heart,” their hardest song to date. While the record packs the occasional such wallop, it loses steam in quieter moments (“Saving Grace”) that sacrifice depth and density for pop hooks, due in part to predictable song structures—heavy riff/anthemic chorus/another heavy riff! In all, New Horizons is emblematic of a band embracing change.
The third studio album from Texas-based, post-grunge/emo-metal outfit Flyleaf is also the band's last outing with longtime vocalist Lacey Sturm, who announced her amicable departure from the group just prior to New Horizons' street date -- the band tapped Kristen May, formerly of Kansas City indie rockers Vedera, to take Sturm's place on the road. More streamlined than 2009's erratic, yet electrifying Memento Mori, Sturm's last hurrah with the band boasts some truly sublime moments early on, effectively capturing the essence of what makes Flyleaf so compelling. "Fire Fire," with its mammoth chorus and barely contained rage, makes for a stunning opener, utilizing every facet of Sturm's formidable howl while allowing the band the freedom to punctuate those caterwauls with meticulously crafted sonic blasts that never sacrifice melody for power.
Many people have fond memories of Flyleaf’s self-titled debut album from 2005. Specifically, the album opener and hit single (“I’m So Sick”) not only succeeded in breaking into their thoughts with frontwoman Lacey Sturm’s heartfelt clean singing, but broke their faces with sudden, ferocious screams as well. Unfortunately, the rest of that record was dull enough to make soaring leaves divebomb to the ground while imitating the sound that a downed military aircraft makes (yes, inanimate objects would be that bored).
New Horizons arrives burdened by the news that it’s Flyleaf’s last with vocalist Lacey Sturm, who’s chosen to step down from frontwoman duties and be a full-time mom. It’s hard to say whether that’s a good or bad thing, based on the new songs, most of which seem to indicate that even the four who are planning to push on have kind of reached the end of the road, creatively speaking. Every song on New Horizons operates in one of three basic modes: There are a few Paramore-gone-grunge tracks (the title track, “Cage On The Ground,” “Stand”), some heavier ones that sound like a cross between In This Moment and Audioslave (“Call You Out,” “Freedom,” “Green Heart”), and a ballad or two (“Bury Your Heart,” “Broken Wings”).