Beyond The Ashes is a trio consisting of Anthony Facello – Tenor, Casey Rivers – Lead, and Kellan Monroe – Baritone. This is their latest CD on Vine Records.
- The Coming Of The King – Written by the dynamic songwriting duo of Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey, this song was originally recorded by Brian Free and Assurance on their acclaimed It’s So God CD. What this version lacks in the uber-high arrangement from the Assurance version, it more than makes up for in energy and pure soul. The version here by Beyond The Ashes seems to be an earthier, more gritty soul version. It’s a great, energetic way to start off the disc and showcases the group’s ability to sing with some soul. 8.5/10
- What I Have I Give – Written by Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, and Depp Britt, this is a very pop sounding, midtempo tune. Casey Rivers has an incredibly soulful voice and the funky arrangement on this tune plays to voice incredibly well. If you’re a straight-laced kind of SG fan, chances are you won’t like this much at all. Fans of the more progressive side of SG will flip for it. I love it. 9.5/10
- Treasures Unseen – This is a tender ballad from the pen of Ann Ballard. The instrumentation is fairly simple with a piano driving the track with organ and bass guitar added lightly through the first chorus. The understated track brings out Facello’s vocals on the verse and the group harmonies on the chorus. It’s a great song with a tremendous lyric about storing up treasures in Heaven. There’s a really nice cascading harmony that leads into the second chorus where drums and acoustic guitar get added to the track. It’s a very stripped down track that focuses the listener’s attention on the vocals and message of the song. Another great track. 9/10
- Whenever We Pray – Rachel McCutcheon contributed this flowing, anthemic ballad. All three vocalists get solo lines in the verse before coming in for full harmonies for the chorus. This is one of the most traditional styled songs on the CD. It’s not quite the standout of the previous tracks, but it’s still a very solid song. 7.5/10
- Guilty of Love – This is another fairly traditional ballad by Wayne Haun and Lyn Rowell. Anthony Facello again steps up to sing the verses of the song, and the chorus features some smooth harmonies from the trio, with some atypical chord progressions thrown in for good measure. The background harmonies behind Facello on the bridge are notable well done. This is another solid track. 8/10
- Test Of Time – This is a driving country tune written by Joel Lindsey, Wayne Haun, and Ty Herndon. Casey Rivers steps up to deliver the lead on this song. Rivers has a voice that just oozes emotion when he sings. This song could conceivably see some crossover play on mainstream country radio. Another solid cut. 8/10
- Tough As Nails – This is another song from the pens of Lindsey, Haun, and Britt. It also returns to a traditional SG big ballad style. This song wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Mercy’s Mark CD during Facello’s tenure with the quartet. It’s a great song, performed very well by the group. This one would probably appeal to a large number of SG radio listeners. 8.5/10
- We’ll Soon Be Done With Troubles And Trials – This old Cleavant Derricks standard is brought up to speed in a very bluesy arrangement. While it’s pretty standard fare for the first half of the song, there’s a inventive bridge in the middle that leads to a key change and a repeat of the chorus. There’s a bit of a Michael Buble meets Beale Street blues meets Rock and Roll guitar feel to it. The track and arrangement breathe new life into an old classic and provide a definite highlight of the album. 9/10
- I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand – Another classic follows, this from the pen on Colbert and Joyce Croft. It retains a bit of a black gospel feel with the prominent B3 organ, but it’s done in a little more of a flowing, subdued fashion than most. In this way, the power of the lyric really is able to shine through. It’s not as in your face as the previous cut, but it’s still a nice cut. I like the chord progression on the line “Down on my knees/I learn to stand”, it’s a little bit different than the straight progression. 8/10\
- When I Look Upon My Savior’s Face – This is another tune from Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey. This is another ballad that features Kellan Monroe. It’s a very understated track and arrangement that again allows the strength of the lyric to be out front. It’s a very pretty song that doesn’t have a high ending, it doesn’t rely on any gimmicks in the music. It’s just a powerful lyric that is delivered well. 8.5/10
- God Sees The Heart – The album concludes with a song contributed by Ernie Haase, Benji Gaither, and Sue C. Smith. It returns to a more progressive country tinged the sound similar to “Test Of Time.” Again Casey Rivers takes the lead on the verses and really shines. He shows some nice upper range and incredibly soulful tones. It’s a nice way to close the album. 8/10
Overall: 8.5 Most SG fans will be familiar with Anthony Facello from his days with Heaven Bound, The Journeymen, and Mercy’s Mark. Listeners probably aren’t nearly as familiar with Casey Rivers or Kellan Monroe, but if this recording is any indication, they soon will be. Producer Wayne Haun, along with Beyond The Ashes have put together an album that makes quite an effective announcement of the group in the SG world. Their press release states that they have a bold goal to combine the best aspects of Contemporary Christian and Southern Gospel music. This album is definitely a big step in accomplishing that goal. “What I Have I Give” would sound right at home on CCM’s KLOVE network of radio stations, while several songs would find a nice home on SG’s Solid Gospel network.
These guys have incredibly expressive voices that can tear into a driving pop or country style song, but can also mellow out the sound and sing some smooth harmonies on a more flowing ballad. I’d love to hear them explore more of the pop/soft rock style sound like “What I Have” on subsequent albums, as I thought that was a great sound that they never really went back to on any of the other tracks on the disc. That being said, this is a great project by the group. If you like your music with an edge, you will DEFINITELY want to check out Beyond The Ashes. Great job!