Beyond Broken

Beyond Broken

At first listen, the Tampa-based quintet 39 Stripes appears to be another entry in the Christian hard music sweepstakes along the lines of Decyfer Down and Red. And while it’s true that their fourth album Beyond Broken is full of crunchy riffage and hammering drum lines, there are enough subtleties to the band’s approach to help them avoid easy labels. The yearning tone of newly recruited singer Mike Wilson (an American Idol alumnus) adds a heartfelt edge to even post-grunge rockers like “Wake Up” and “Holding On.” Steve Henderlong’s lead guitar work also shows an individual touch, veering from rapid-fire volleys (“Mustard Seed”) to effects-laden textures (“Blind”) and ‘80s-style jittery lines (“Saving Me A Place”). If the band’s musical approach is varied, its message of spiritual need and salvation stays on point. A string-accented acoustic version of “Saving Me A Place” closes the album on a bittersweet note. Beyond Broken may confound some purists, but its eclectic approach is ultimately a source of creative strength.

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