Ivoryline, There Came A Lion

Ivoryline, There Came A Lion

Ivoryline’s new Tooth And Nail label release, There Came A Lion, is their full-album debut, underscored by the success of a previous EP and over two years of extensive touring. Based in Tyler, Texas, Ivoryline features Jeremy Gray (vocals), Scott Socia (guitar), Dusty Kittle (guitar), Robert Woodward (bass), and Wes Hart (drums). This largely undiscovered quintet from the Lone Star State was fortuitously launched into more prominent view after being included in the Vans Warped Tour in 2006. The group prides itself on creating music simply for the love of music itself. In this vein, Lion seeks to portend, rather than pretend, the sincerity of the band’s honest approach toward reproducing their musical impressions among the droves of listeners now being drawn more increasingly to their art.

As a collection, the album is a thoroughly relentless release of high level energy. The pace hardly lets up at all, as song after song of crafty guitaring, pounding rhythms, and attention-grabbing vocals weave their way pervasively through a set of rock-patterned anthems to form a combined fabric of pretty uniform texturing. The only odd-man-out selection is the last track, appropriately entitled “The Last Words,” a beautifully melodic piece that could have rather served as a mid-set cut to break-up the prevailing drive of the remainder of the album.

You don’t have to get very far into the album before you realize that not only do the band members love rock music, but they also seem particularly wedded to the power pop/pop-punk sub-genre style. They’ve pretty much wrapped themselves completely around this solitary musical area, almost formulaically so. Now, whether that’s a great thing or a terrible thing will largely depend upon whether you like a good bit of versatility or experimentation out of a band. Personally, I have to give them substantial credit for their ability to do a fantastic job of doing that one thing very well…even though it may indeed be but one encapsulated thing. As far as this isolated page of the script goes, they’ve certainly dotted every “i” and crossed every “t.” Maybe they were just playing it safe. Maybe not. Whatever the case may be, as a full-fledged maiden voyage, this emphasis has definitely worked for them. The collection succeeds in standing on its own merits, and contains some very interesting moments.

One of the stand-out features of this album is Jeremy Gray’s vocals. They consistently cut through to the forefront with vivacity and passion. Combined with backing vocals, Ivoryline produces some of the most atmospherically expansive and explosively melodic harmonies I’ve heard recently. The complimentary buoyancy created between vocals, guitar riffs, and percussion attacks is stylishly sophisticated and comes across quite succinctly in the final pan mix.

Every single track is a viable offering, with no throwaways. The influences range from Jimmy Eat World to a harder-hitting U2 or the chops of a much more melodious Green Day. There are also many musical allusions to sub-genre partner Anberlin and lead vocalist Stephen Christian.

My picks for selected cuts are “All You Ever Hear,” with its metaphorical heads-up on listening only to enticing liars outside your window, “Bravery,” a harder-rocking tune that explores the ironic element of courage inherent in leaving, and “Parade,” a rite-of-passage celebration for new starts, set to double-picking guitar arpeggios, stimulating drum syncopation, and revved-up vocals. My personal favorite is “Be Still And Breathe,” which combines great switching high-hat and snare quadrupling with very memorable vocal harmonies and lyrics. The acappella intro and hooky words and tune really set the song apart from the pack. This song also soared to #1 on the Radio & Records Christian Rock National Airplay charts (a regular Tooth And Nail touchstone) within three weeks of the album’s release.

Though I haven’t heard the band live, I have read at least a couple of enthusiastic reviews giving them special mention in large, multi-band lineup shows. If this lends any credence to the idea that their live performances are on par with their studio work, then Ivoryline might very well be an excellent band to catch live when they pass through your area.

[Ivoryline is playing 4/6/08 at Warehouse Live, with Family Force 5, The Myriad, & The Maine.]
(Tooth & Nail Records -- P.O. Box 12698, Seattle, WA. 98111; http://www.toothandnail.com/; Ivoryline -- http://www.myspace.com/ivoryline)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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