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CRY HOLY (2003)
Cry Holy - Click to view!After two hit albums (the first of which has sold over 500,000 copies), a Grammy nomination and the exodus of most of its creative talent, expectations on Sonicflood's 2001 album Resonate were extremely high. As anyone who bought Resonate can attest, those expectations were not met. Two years later, however, comes Cry Holy, a return to the band's roots as a cover group committed to breathing new life into other artists' songs, and puts them back into the upper half of the country's best worship groups.

Part of the reason, of course, is the song writing and production help of Marc Byrd (City on a Hill), but the band also shows definite growth and much more cohesion and sophistication than was evident on Resonate. The end product, however, is a collection of worship songs that will certainly appeal to fans of the old SF and may win some new fans as well.

The album begins with the title track, a collaboration between the producer and lead singer Rick Heil reminiscent of the less spectacular moments of the first City on a Hill album. Heil sings about the captivating beauty of God and how every creature worships Him in some way.

The ensuing track, "Shelter," is the first of eleven songs not written by the band, but is an album highlight. Byrd has taken the stripped-down, sophomoric approach of Resonate and replaced it with a multi-layered, lush but pop-friendly sound that calls to mind what much of the Paul Colman Trio would be like if the cheese factor was dialled back. "Everyday," "God is Great" and "I Will Exalt the One" all have similar sensibilities.

The album also draws on the work of a good deal of big-name worship leaders, taking songs such as "Here I am to Worship" by Tim Hughes which are already hits and those like "Unconditional" (written by the same combo that gave us "God of Wonders") and "Famous One," co-written by Chris Tomlin, which are potential hits. Purists (such as those still upset that SF broke the bank by covering old delirious? tunes) may balk at this, but must be reminded that musical greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and innumerable others have regularly recorded previously published music and make a tidy profit.

The band crosses into tacky territory with the inclusion of cello and violin riffs on "Everything to Me," and electronically simulated drum beats on "Everything" and "Here I Am to Worship," but deserve credit for eventually allowing more conventional rock instrumentals to overpower each of those songs.

As might be expected, the weakest song is the only one written exclusively by band members, but their interpretations of the various others are more than enough to suggest that Sonicflood hasn't seen its last days. Though not a "must buy," Cry Holy should be enough to erase the bad memories of Resonate.
- Ben Forrest
April 2003
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