Nine Lashes explore the tension here between a series of dualities: light and darkness, sin and salvation, hard rock and electronic pop. The Birmingham, Ala., quintet finesses these contrasting elements with a skill that speaks to their maturity as a band. Riff-driven, melodically grounded groups like Linkin Park and Incubus remain the band’s key reference points, with touches of Coldplay evident as well. As on earlier releases, Nine Lashes anchor their music in Scripture-based themes of man’s fallen nature and God’s forgiving grace. “Surrender” (a luminous ballad riding an escalating groove) and “You Are the Light” (a moody, midtempo track that builds to a roaring chorus) are typical expressions of the spiritual yearning found here. The band juggle guitar crunch and rhythmic pulsation on “Break the World,” bounce to a modern dance beat on “Where I Belong,” and waltz with a metallic edge on “In the Dark.” Lead singer Jeremy Dunn projects strength and conviction throughout, whether he’s declaring his faith with a snarl (“Never Back Down”) or hitting Chris Martin–like falsetto notes while reaching for a higher power (“Cover Your Own”).