Lamp Mode Recordings (July 24, 2012)
Review by LaRosa
It’s been about five years since we’ve heard from one of the original members of the Lamp Mode roster, Timothy Brindle. With two memorable projects under his belt, including the highly acclaimed Killing Sin album, he was forced to step away from the Christian hip-hop scene so that he could address some personal matters. With the blessing of his family, church & Lamp Mode brethren, Timothy recently began making guest appearances on select projects (see Believin’ Stephen & shai linne), as well as dropping a single or two to whet the listener’s appetite. Now, after a hiatus that has seen him restored in spiritual strength and public ministry, Timothy Brindle has released his junior release aptly titled The Restoration.
The Restoration: The All-Sufficiency of Christ in the Gospel of Grace to Restore Ruined Sinners to Himself for their Joy and His Glory. The title of this album speaks for itself as to what you can expect to hear as a listener. The title alone can preach without even playing a single track; but, as you do listen, can expect to hear the story of Timothy’s restoration in all areas of his life, which makes this a very personal album. With that, you also get a heavy dose of the gospel and the all-sufficiency of Christ which serve as the remedy for fallen sinners to be restored.
The Restoration is Timothy Brindle’s life put to music, and it clearly shows as you listen to this project and hear the passion with which he delivers his verbal soliloquies. This is immediately evident in the opening track “The All-Sufficiency of Christ” where he details the working of Jesus Christ in his life to cover him and empower him to overcome his sins. It’s here that we see that Timothy hasn’t lost a step, and makes it hard to believe that he’s been away from music for half a decade. Outside of a misstep here & there, this is the Timothy Brindle that we get for the entirety of the album. On top of this, there is a lot to like for the hip-hop purist, such as the addition of scratching and snippets from previous Lamp Mode recordings (like shai linne’s “Christ Crucified” on “I’m the Problem”). The instrumentation on this project makes for a very somber & introspective listen, which is both good & bad. It’s good because there is a lot for the listener to meditate on, but it can also make it feel very long & drawn out. One highlight to mention, while not the best track on the album, is “The Completeness Cypha” which is the first track from Lamp Mode to feature the entire roster on a single track. What’s more, this track serves as a concise summary of the entirety of the restoration we can receive because of the completeness of Christ’s work.
For all that is good about this album, there are definitely some low points as well. With this album’s title being The Restoration, as someone who is picking up this album, you walk into this thinking that you’re going to get a very vibrant & musical project that symbolizes the victory won in Christ and the renewed vigor that comes with restoration. Instead, the listener is greeted with a quite melancholy & somewhat gloomy album that feels more like the weight of the sin & darkness that Timothy was carrying before his restoration. This is understandable for tracks like “The Darkness of My Heart” and “I’m the Problem,” but it is a bit unsettling for this to be how the majority of the album sounds. There should have been more colorful & upbeat tracks like “The Daily Gospel.” In many ways, with his last album being titled Killing Sin, I was almost expecting a dichotomy of sound much like Flame delivered in his Our World Fallen/Redeemed albums. Sadly, that’s not the case here as we end up with something that feels more like a Killing Sin: Part Two. On top of that, there were also a couple of tracks that I felt just didn’t work. While it was nice to see Phanatik & Json on “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector,” that has to be the weakest verse I’ve ever heard from Phanatik & the song just overall lacked the wow factor that you’d expect seeing these emcees teamed up. Likewise, the track with Beautiful Eulogy just didn’t seem to work either, with Timothy trying to rap in step with Braille & Odd Thomas feeling totally forced & out of place.
While it is great to see Timothy Brindle back on the mic, this album will likely leave the listener with mixed emotions. At times the album title and the content appear to be at odds with one another, especially for those that are expecting a brighter album. For those that have listened to Brindle’s prior catalog of work, they will likely notice that this album feels very much like a blend of The Great Awakening & Killing Sin, in both sound and content. Fans of Lamp Mode will no doubt enjoy this album, but the weightiness of the content is sure to turn some listeners off. For those that were expecting something new from Brindle, outside of spiritual growth & restoration, you won’t find it here; this work is very much within his comfort zone. That being said, The Restoration is a solid comeback effort from Timothy Brindle that will keep many rooting for him.