Following His Name Is Alive is a complex journey, through the dozens of different self-released, independent compilations, and even studio recordings; His Name Is Alive has been in the musical both background and foreground for 25 years. First starting with Warren Defever, His Name Is Alive’s first member who began recording in 1985 during high school in his basement, ever since personally sending tapes to recorded label 4AD, Defever has accompanied with many different, almost migrant musicians who will work with him during a project and then move onto the next artist.
Eventually, Defever met with several different record labels until finally reaching a stopping point with Light In The Attic Records and Silver Mountain Media who worked with Defever on His Name Is Alive’s newest release, Patterns of Light. Not only is Patterns of Light an uncharted, but familiar thrill-ride, Patterns of Light is a step back and a call to the true nature of experimentation when coming into a progressive rock record. The vocal style, the guitar work, and even the percussive aspects all adapt to an unstable mold that becomes broken with every incoming moment. No one instrument stays on a similar path for longer than 30-seconds, and this is a complete advantage that His Name Is Alive shares.
With the self-titled track, “Patterns of Light,” vocalist Andrea Morici is able to start Patterns of Light off with an intriguing use of singular vocals that are almost inviting and create a sense of beauty behind the progressive, psychedelic style that is present for most of Patterns of Light. The guitar, soon following Morici’s solo, comes suddenly and when conspired with the drums, it becomes gritty and a slow crawl until the sprint that unfolds. Once His Name Is Alive start into the depth of “Patterns of Light,” the track becomes a three-part course within the first two-minutes. Thoroughly, the instrumentation is a complex, but easy to understand dish that will pull the listener through several stages before reaching even a chorus or what feels like a chorus.
While common in progressive music, the rocking guitar work from both Defever and Dusty Jones, as well as the frequent crashing from J. Rowe on the percussion all creates an always forward style of momentum that carries His Name Is Alive to soaring heights. The guitar solos that lead “Patterns of Light” into the following, “Demonmix” is outstanding, truly a cranking finish that leads into more of a subtle, but still impactful seguing track where synthesizers, primarily a Moog synthesizer and what could also be a Mellotron that is played by Morici and Bubba Ayoub. Their synth work creates the backdrop where the more acoustic instruments can begin to slowly creep into frame until becoming a powerhouse of sound. “Demonmix” relies on Morici to lead the outro into the next track, “Thanks A Million,” which from the start, is more of a straight-forward approach.
His Name Is Alive feels almost as homage to the 1970’s where the strength-ridden guitar solos, crashing cymbals, and electronic, almost “futuristic” synths play out the sounds of the incoming space-age. His Name Is Alive has significant vigor in the way that the band can truly turn on a dime during a track, but it also has a sense of grace in certain ways that the tracks open with intermissions where there is a single instrument playing, or Morici is singing almost to herself.
“Calling All Believers” is a track that feels similar to an intermission or a bridge that forms for other tracks to segue easier. “Calling All Believers” is not really much of a transforming or adapting track as it stays rather consistent on all fronts, a pattern that is uncommon for His Name Is Alive. Constructing a small detour in Patterns of Light, “For The Scientist” becomes a starry, synth-led journey into the deepest sections of infinite space. The constant repetition of the blinking notes, mixed with the low, grumbling toned bass that is only present for a few sections is a lovely distraction from the usual action of Patterns of Light. The two consecutive tracks work as transitioning pieces that, rather than build onto the sporadic movements, become subtle changes.
It is only once the rapid ride cymbal clicks of “Energy Acceleration” where is it clear that the subtle building will no longer be a factor as His Name is Alive spawns right back into the running, but not rushed instrumentals. While not a full sprint, “Energy Acceleration” has a cliffhanging, but smooth jump into the jammed in, “Black Wings.” A full, steady rock track that opens with low-tuned guitar that is crunching through the amp, and more of a clean, yet rambunctious guitar solo attached from early on that creates a large sense of a sprint that hits a brick wall when all the instruments stop, having the synthesizer create the sudden grumble. Then, the instruments start to flood back in, with a sense of gradual build of volume that goes back into the first found style at the opening of “Black Wings.”
The segueing nature of His Name Is Alive is going to be the most important tool within their arsenal. Almost every track feels like it was recorded in one, complete take. This adds to the flow of Patterns of Light and even when using tracks that feature only synthesizers or acoustic guitars, it still has an incredible amount of flow.
“Dragon Down” is going to be the most far-left style of track on Patterns of Light as it features Morici and Jean Cook who works with the violin and string arrangements. There is a constant level of angelic style with Morici’s vocal structure and the way that she approaches lyrics. “Dragon Down” also contains some of the more graceful and beautiful styles of instrumentation which only furthers Morici’s performance to astounding heights. Patterns of Light then comes to the final track, “Silver Arc Curving in the Magnetic Field,” which is also the longest track of the entire record.
“Silver Arc Curving in the Magnetic Field” is more of a drone style track that has a sluggish opening, but uses all the instrumentation to create a sense of space once again. Within its eight-minute run-time, “Silver Arc Curving in the Magnetic Field” has moments where the synthesizers completely take over, allowing nothing but the atmospheric sounds to become the centerfold in the spotlight. While these moments are far and few between, it still becomes a strange mix of different genres. Almost building up into a track that never ends up delivering. The atmospheric synths play Patterns of Light out, until reaching the inevitable silence.