ellarive follow-up their shockingly incredible debut with another surprise: this one is just as good. And even more, we get a bit more congregational with this new offering, Before There Was. If you aren’t already familiar with this band of Floridians (six in total), Bellarive craft atmospheric worship with glorious musical builds and fantastic musical eruptions that praise God in musical prosody as much as in lyrical poetry.
On their sophomore release, the best example of this musical prayer and praise is found on “Calling on Fire” where we supplicate the father to come set our hearts ablaze and the music builds to an incendiary peak proclaiming God’s faithfulness—despite our faithlessness—blazing in synth-anthem strength, reminding us who we are when we are found in him. Next, “Lazarus” makes use of minor chording and bleak background tones—even silence and single-note piano playing—to display the authority of the one who was able to say, “Come out, come now from your hiding,” and he says it still. “Hallelujah to Saving Grace” shows the breadth of the ability to create dramatic musical poses by juxtaposing 18th century hymn cadences with progressive, post-rock intonations. The only miss on Before There Was is a slight lack of Scripture references and nuanced theological understanding. Of course the words are true and biblically faithful, as well as poetically beautiful, so it’s not worth much more than noting.
Because many of the compositions travel through numerous soundscapes and stories, there is an intrinsic focus on our personal role; however, four of the songs have a focus directly on the attributes of God, which makes them standout as possible congregational tunes. Thematically, the focus of Before There Was sets its center on God’s power, our lack of power, and the great grace that connects the two in order to bring light and life to the world.
A powerful kick drum supports the far ranging guitars and elctro-pop with synthy shades to the overwhelming wash of sound; it sounds simultaneously like chaos and creation’s order, set to music.
Most singable: “Hallelujah to Saving Grace”
Strongest biblical content: “Let there Be Light” Genesis 1; Zeph 3:17
The whole package: “Your Great Love,” “Calling on Fire”