Universal Royalty [This Side Of The Sea] | Posted October 11, 2010 Staff Reviewer
The mission statement of UniversalRoyalty is to be a ministry of music, labored in love, founded and rooted in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. The band’s goal is to intimately love, diligently obey, and humbly submit to the will of our Lord. They have committed to use their gifts to edify and encourage the body of believers, as well as, esteem and evidence the person of Jesus in their character, singing, teaching, and lifestyle, all of this established through the absolute truth of the Bible. Their prayer as a ministry is to usher others closer to Jesus and bring glory to God. With that background and having heard the band lead my church congregation in worship, I settled in to listen to their new EP, This Side Of The Sea, released August 1st. Opening song “Feel It” begins with such a good guitar riff that it took me a couple of listens to fully recognize the message of the song, which is driven home with the excellent ending of the song “Oh, through Your blood, Lord, I’ve been set free, c’mon, Oh, this World has got nothing on me.” The live studio version is my favorite musically and this is my favorite overall song on the album. The album ends with an acoustic version of the song. If you like alternative rock in the style of Red Hot Chili Peppers, check out this great song. Listening to the Toro brothers harmonize reminded me of a great classic rock song like “Peace Of Mind” by Boston. “God Leads Us Along” is next. This song totally mixes it up musically and brings more of a southern gospel rock feel, complete with harmonica. The gospel message is very clear: “Some through the waters, And some through the floods, Some through the fire, But all through the Blood, God leads His children along.” The female harmony part really caught my attention on this song. Great message and the melody really sticks with you.
“Pride On Parade” is a great title and features yet another musical style. This song has a classic piano rock style and ends with a great piano part for at least a minute, which I love. The chorus reflects the truth of our human failure to fully submit to God in humility: “We have always been faithful, To plan our own way, Now we’ve got a whole human race full, Of pride on parade.” Title track “This Side Of The Sea” has another strong biblical message, “And we know, we know, and we’ve been shown, God’s Son, He shapes and makes our home.” The song is written and sung by Luis Toro, one of the 6 brothers that make up the band, along with David, Juan, Daniel, Marcos and Nick along with Chris Vasquez. Another musical highlight for me is “Swing Low” which brings back the alternative rock feel, complete with turntable mixing by Juan and a Red Hot Chili Peppers style guitar and rap vocal part. This song is a re-write of the hymn “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” but with gang vocals and such a fun musical part again I had to re-listen to the song to really absorb the message which is “Swing Low, sweet chariot, Father come down here and take me up, ‘Cause I don’t think they can handle my flow, Or the fact that you live in us, They criticize and size me up, But we only answer to the One above.” What a great anthem of faith and a perfect way to bookend the fun and extremely diverse musical mix of songs before the acoustic recording of “Feel It.” I highly recommend picking up the 2 additional bonus tracks from universal-royalty.com especially “Someday Soon.” This song has a haunting keyboard part played by Chris and emotional vocal cry: “Someday soon, when You get here, We will meet You in the air, Someday soon, when You get here, We will meet You in the air, And I will fly to You in the sky.” This is a great contemporary sounding song along with the other bonus track “142 Blues Remix” which brings back the rap vocals and alternative rock musical style. Don’t miss out on the bonus tracks as they really complete the musical experience.
I can’t say I’ve ever heard more diverse musical styles on one album. All 7 songs are interesting, filled with faith-based lyrics and for me the highlights are “Feel It,” “Swing Low” and bonus tracks “Someday Soon” and “142 Blues Remix.” If you like alternative rock with gospel-infused lyrics, look no further than UniversalRoyalty.