After five years and four successively popular releases, Come Together finds Atlanta-based Third Day poised at the forefront of the contemporary Christian rock movement. Similar to their past efforts, Come Together blends gritty Southern rock with edgy power pop, making them sonically akin to the massively popular mid-’90s secular act, Collective Soul.
But in terms of songwriting and style, Come Together takes a number of risks that don’t always payoff. First, the record’s centerpiece is found in the distinct vocal delivery of frontman Mac Powell. For better or worse, Powell’s throaty yawp employs the kind of Eddie Vedderisms that have dominated modern rock for the past decade and the unnerving intensity of his performance throughout the record never falters. With the possible exception of Jar of Clay’s Dan Haseltine, Powell might have more inherent talent and basic “star power” than any other male vocalist in CCM.
But the main problem is balance. The record’s strongest songwriting happens right up front, starting with a set of four guitar-heavy rockers that have as much muscle as anything in the band’s early discography. The first half of the album finds Third Day at their best, packaging hook-laden, chicken-fried rock in tight, energetic arrangements. It’s a return to band’s rough and tumble beginnings, before the glossy pop of 2000’s Offerings…
But just as Come Together is about to hit its stride, things take a drastic change for the worse. The heavy-handed pop cheer of “My Heart” is poured on too thick, and “I Got You” commits unpardonable crime of Southern rock (religious or otherwise) with the inclusion of a turntable. From there, the record never fully recovers. Even though “Still Listening,” displays the band’s ability to write a catchy hook, it is suspiciously overwrought with tear-in-my-beer vocal riffing. The record finishes with “Sing Praises” and “Nothing Compares,” but both of those are little more than bland devotionals that pale in comparison to the band’s best efforts.
When it’s all said and done, Come Together simply doesn’t hold together. If the record’s second half matched the quality of the first, Third Day would’ve made one of the gutsiest CCM recordings of the year. Though Third Day’s previous track record basically ensures chart-topping record sales, it’s hard to listen to Come Together and not wonder about the record that might have been.
Nate Cavalieri writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.