Music Review: Wilderness EP by Cliffside

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Updated June 13, 2019
Wilderness EP Cover
Cliffside - The Wilderness

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Taylor and Joel wrote "Wilderness" as a testimony to the difficult circumstances which they overcame throughout 2016-2018.

The album speaks to any sort of difficult season one may find themselves in. While the content matter of each song varies, an overarching theme of pain turned into hope pervades the course of the album.

Our desire is that our story will encourage and lift any weight caused from any hurt. Further, we aspire to share our conviction that pain does not need to define us.

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Wilderness EP by Cliffside
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"Wilderness" is the debut EP from Cliffside a heavy metal band with a heart to reach people where they are. They do this by bringing vulnerability in their lyrics about dealing with their own personal setbacks and victories with the idea of sharing hope to their listeners. Cliffside is comprised of Taylor Thomas, Joel Issler, Matt Groening (not The Simpsons and Futurama creator), and Ty Wigemyr and they come from British Colombia.

With a small amount of ambient build up the first track "Traverse" launches the heavy sound of the EP with the growling lyrics counterpointed by a lighter chorus which is echoed in the guttural growl of the lead vocals. This music style echoes what the lyrics are saying, not wanting to get stuck in our own heads, but struggling to find the way out, but setting the determination to survive. In this place there is the realisation that we cannot save ourselves, there needs to be an outside force, they haven't said in this track if this is about God helping (although I suspect that this is the case) or a friend coming alongside with help and guidance. It could be loosely interpreted as either one. What is important is the determination to get out of this mental darkness and the reminder that none of us should be "martyrs to your mind".

"Hindsight" does seem to be written from the point of view of a friend, someone who has come alongside someone who has been in a desperate time because of something that happened in that person's past. Here there is an appeal to God to help them go through this pain together. There are encouraging words in this track for anyone going through a relationship breakdown, especially where they have been betrayed. It tells the listener that they are stronger than they realise, that the tests will teach you to learn and grow and that you are not worthless, the way you have been made to feel! It's hard to grasp some of these lyrics when your ears aren't tuned in to the style, but they are very real and honest when you do manage to pick them out.

I don't know if I am tuning in better to the gravelly sound, but the lyrics on this track seem clearer to make out. "Foundation" is once again positive and affirming and reminding us that we don't have to work on our identity, or to hide behind a mask, we just need to know the worth that has always been in us. Part of knowing our identity is to know we are sons and daughters and that we have value, and that there is value in our surrender - it doesn't explicitly say this, but surrender to God and the Royal household that we call our home and inheritance. "Through My Eyes" changes this around and puts the roaring lyrics into the mouth of God and how He sees us. It shows us that He sees the pain, but also tells of a Father who reaches out and reminds us of our worth and longs to embrace us. Sometimes, even as Christians, we can have a wrong view of God as someone who sits in judgement punishing us and hating our actions, but this song puts these words into His mouth. "I'm not who I've been made to be, by hypocrites woo hid the truth as liars. From birth to death and evermore, you are my desire." These words sung as a ballad would surely become popular in the Christian music world, sadly fewer people will hear this because of the music style, but I would encourage you to check out the full lyrics on the band's youtube page!

The last track on this short EP is "Wilderness" and I think it's a place where we all feel we have been from time to time. As Christians, we refer to wilderness experiences, which we liken to the Children of Israel wandering in the desert for 40 years but never making it to the promised land. Here there is frustration expressed with the time things are taken, the lack of guidance in the place we find ourselves, our throats are dry and we cannot even scream for help any longer. There is an expression here that requires our faith and our hope, the lyrics talk about finding ourselves on the edge of a cliff and determining if we should jump and trust God to save us if that is where He has brought us? They continue to muse on the thought that "If this is a cage then why do I feel free?" This style is ideal for expressing this kind of frustration and the final long guttural roar of the song, and indeed the EP sums this up perfectly!

I have talked a lot about the lyrics here, but it has to be said that each element of this album from guitars, drums, vocals and production all sound really good and clear. While it takes a little while to tune into the gravelly rumbling of the vocals it is definitely worth it! These guys have a lot to say in a very honest way and you can tell that these songs have been written by guys who have been on a journey through some difficult circumstances and even doubt, but they are here to share their hope in something, someone, greater than the circumstance with the confidence that you are worth more than you may be feeling right now. Check out the EP on their YouTube channel and if this is your type of music then purchase through the links above!

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