When news broke that Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm was leaving the band mere weeks before the release of their latest album New Horizons, it was a complete shock to fans and even casual listeners. After all, how could we, the listeners, go into this without feeling sadness, even a sense of betrayal?
But what other choice is there? I can sit back and complain, saying that I’ll never listen to the album. But what’s the point? Why would I deprive myself the opportunity to hear Lacey’s final (for the foreseeable future) offering? And so I hit ‘Play’ to see if her exit was one with grace or if it left a sour taste in my mouth.
The album opens with “Fire Fire”, which begins far more innocently than it probably should. An arpeggiated 7/4 guitar riff that sounds almost like a piano opens the track, followed by Lacey singing gently and soft drums tapping out rhythms. Suddenly, everything stops for two beats and the song bursts into life. The song ends with Lacey and a throng of people chanting, “Fire! Fire fire! Fire from the tongues of liars!” It’s a perfect beginning to the album, mixing heavy with soft, confident with pleading, subtle with forceful.
The production of this album is near spot on. There are slight imperfections here and there but that only serves to give this album a very human, organic feel.
Some of my personal favorite tracks on the album would be “Green Heart”, which is the most “metal” offering this album gives. Then there is “Call You Out”, which is meant for stadiums, thousands of people chanting the chorus while jumping up and down. “Bury Your Heart” is perhaps the most emotional song, mixing a desperate chorus that has roaring guitars underneath with hypnotic, tribal-esque verses.
The Final Word: New Horizons is a bittersweet experience. It’s a fantastic album that marks the end of Flyleaf’s history with singer Lacey Sturm. This is something that she can look back upon with confidence, knowing that she gave it her all and then some.
While it is difficult trying to see a future without her as part of the band, there is, as the feel of the album suggests, always hope. It’ll be interesting to see what the band does next.