Formed back in 2002, Texan quintet Flyleaf recently released their third opus. Following on from 2009’s Memento Mori, New Horizons features 10 songs of emotionally driven radio friendly metal. The launch of this album has been overshadowed by the announcement that lead singer, Lacey Sturm was to leave the band before its release. So as I sit reviewing the album, there is a sense of sadness that this may be the last contribution that we ever hear from one of the most diminutive yet distinctive and powerful vocalists in modern metal.
Album opener “Fire Fire” is a ferociously fragile song. The refrain of “Fire from the tongues of liars” is instantly memorable and has the unique Flyleaf trademark stamped all over it. Crunching hooks abound alongside gentle interludes and catchy choruses with Sturm’s distinctive frail yet fearsome delivery serving as the focal point.
Having seen Flyleaf live, the one thing I always enjoyed was that they captured their performance energy in the studio. A prime example of this magic is on the pulverising, “Call You Out” and the hammering “Green Heart”. Both tracks gallop, crush and challenge. “Green Heart” even flirts joyously with some thrash metal riffing. Title track “New Horizons” was the first single and taster for the fans of what was to come on the album. It is made for airplay. While lighter and not as vitriolic as previous work it carries underlying heaviness with captivating melody.
The sensational album highlight, “Cage on the Ground” sounds almost biographical with hypnotic protestations as the singer in the story takes his bow, labeling “The Machine” as a currency generator. Filled with emotion and truth, I honestly believe that this tune could be one of Flyleaf’s best. “Bury Your Heart” is heart rending and haunting. Album closer “Broken Wings”, initially picks along before the momentum increases and features soaring lead lines with a lofty chorus. Throughout New Horizons, slick production allows the band to effortlessly fill the room with their music. They have grown as songwriters and all compositions sound unforced and natural.
Flyleaf must now look beyond the new horizon and be ready for the obstacles that will challenge their very existence. “New Horizons” is a special yet bittersweet swansong. It will be interesting to see how new singer Kristen May, interprets the trilogy of work that has been handed to her and to see where they go from here.
Flyleaf have confidently cemented the legacy of their story’s first chapter with a soul stirring collection.
Flyleaf Members on “New Horizons”
Lacey Sturm – Vocals
Sameer Bhattacharya – lead guitar, backing vocals
Jared Hartmann – rhythm guitar
Pat Seals – bass, backing vocals
James Culpepper – drums, percussion