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Album Review

Death and metal have walked and rocked hand-in-bony-hand for many a dark decade. Indeed, I suspect if you sifted through every metal song ever written and sussed out the most common themes, death might very well come in at No. 1.

It's no surprise, then, that mortal expiration has been a regular element in Flyleaf's songs—so much so that this fiery Texas metal act's last album was dubbed Memento Mori, Latin for the sobering reminder, "Remember, you will die." Unlike many metal acts, however, Flyleaf's outlook is anything but grim. Fused and fired by faith, the band's lyrics consistently contrast the inevitability of death with the promise of new life in Christ. Indeed, Flyleaf's albums are saturated with the hope that sin, shame and struggle don't have to have the last word when we submit them to our Savior.

And speaking of last words, this album marks the swan song for frontwoman Lacey Sturm. Since last we heard from the band, she's gotten married (her maiden name was Lacey Mosley), had a baby and decided that the time has come to trade rocking onstage for rocking her new son, Jack, to sleep.

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No lullabies here, yet "Great Love" pulsates with thankfulness as Lacey sings, "Great love setting the world on fire/I am in awe of who You are/And it's Your love I'm living for/Great love filling me up inside/You are the one I'm looking for/And I am Yours forever." Lest we think it's just an earthly romance, she also alludes to Christ's sacrifice in a verse written from His perspective: "There I was awaiting death for you/And all I did was love you too/I'm facing what you won't tonight." "Saving Grace" personifies the concept of grace as someone who comforts and guides: "Save me, grace/I'm sick of saving face/Will you hold me close?/You're all I want to know/ … I surrender/Take us to the place we can start/Happy ever after."

"Bury Your Heart" prophetically challenges the idolatrous, soul-sapping foolishness making Mammon the most important thing in life. "Green Heart" covers similar territory as it asks why we're worshiping money instead of God ("Small, green heart/Engraved on a dollar bill/Tell me, could it build a whole universe?/Can it speak or answer your prayers like you hope it will?"). Only in relinquishing that idolatrous grip on money do we find true freedom, the band insists: "Let's lose it all, buy something beautiful/What next will you sell?/Peace while you sleep/All you own is gonna burn." The song also reminds us that the things of earth are temporal but our souls exist for eternity ("You're not just a body of flesh, bones and bread/You're alive, you're His precious child/And your soul will forever live on").

"Cage on the Ground" vividly explores the addiction of celebrity with, "Another dreamer steps onto the stage/ … As the applause from the crowd starts to fade/He hears them swallow the key to his cage/Welcome to the machine/It's a currency generator/And then it's a guillotine."

"Call You Out" boldly confronts Satan's scheming, deceptive ways, telling us, "I know this language of yours/I used to speak it so well/A fire meant to be pure/Is now the fire of hell/It is written/Long before you." Armed with truth ("Freedom will capture their eyes/We find this truth/We fight/You lose"), Lacey proclaims, "I hear your claims/And I know your name/Liar/Liar/Your time's up now/ … Truth called you out."

"Stand" invites fans to fight on behalf of the unborn ("The time has come to stand and fight/Save the world/And save that girl/From enemies unseen/Our hands will bleed for children unborn"). That track also speaks of healing ("Face the world with open hands/ … Remembering these wounds will heal") and reminds us we do not struggle on our own ("You are not alone in this"). The title track encourages the weary to persevere ("You're tired, but you're alive/So open up your eyes") and to believe that new opportunities are waiting just over the horizon.

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Summary Advisory

This third effort from Flyleaf finds Lacey Sturm going out the same way Lacey Mosley came in 10 years ago: with a ferocious, faith-affirming roar. Sometimes as bands mature, they lose their edge in terms of sound, message or both. Flyleaf has avoided that fate—utterly. New Horizons delivers another metallically pummeling dose of grace and truth … and deliverance from death.

And so Lacey leaves her band and her fans with this parting message on Flyleaf's website:

"As I take this first step on a new journey, I pray that each one of you would pursue your highest calling with reckless abandon as well, understanding that sometimes the fullness of life comes in doing things that are only understood by you, God, and the special people God has put in your life that truly love you for you… not for what you do, but for who you are."

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