Of all of the female-fronted metal bands to emerge following the success of Evanescence, Flyleaf has always been my favorite. In fact, I’ve thought that they were better than Evanescence for quite awhile now and they only serve to prove me right, once again, with their brand new album Between the Stars, which happens to be their strongest record to date.
Early on tracks like lush “Set Me On Fire” and the bass guitar-driven “Magnetic” showcase their abilities to write fist-pump-worthy alt-metal blazers. Meanwhile other songs highlight their ability to tell stories with their songs, such as “Traitor,” which could be about a significant other betraying you or the devil betraying you or, I suppose, even God betraying you. The story is there, but left open to interpretation, which has often been the case with Flyleaf’s songs. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve always been so impressed with their songwriting.
Later, the touching “City Kids” begins like a mellow ballad but gradually builds and builds, proving to be rather epic and highly impressive. It’s followed by the beautiful “Blue Roses,” which is essentially a mid-tempo ballad and more of a traditional hard rock song than the band’s usual metal fare.
You may recall that vocalist Lacey Sturm left the band shortly after they finished recording their last album, 2012’s somewhat disappointing New Horizons, but new vocalist Kristen May fills her shoes just fine, delivering similarly strong and passionate vocals that draw from the same color palette and which should please even the most discerning Flyleaf fans. Then again, Flyleaf’s more discerning fans tend to be their Christian fans, who’ve been known to criticize the band’s music for not being Christian enough, and I’ve read that some of them don’t consider May to be Christian enough. My thought? If you didn’t think the band was Christian enough to begin with, I don’t think it should matter how Christian May says that she is. Personally, I’ve always thought of Flyleaf as a metal band that just happens to be Christian. They’ve never been one of those “Christian rock” bands where every song is about God or the Bible. They’ve held Christian values and beliefs when writing their songs but their songs are about all sorts of things. And they’re only continuing to be with Between the Stars. If you don’t like May’s voice, fine, she’s not for you. But dismissing the band’s new album because you don’t think she’s Christian enough is ludicrous. Besides, how do you know she isn’t Christian enough? Have you had someone spying on her to see if she goes to church regularly and if she sins? No. Well, then, just shut up and listen to the music.