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Flyleaf offers hard music with a message of hope

Raw emotions demand raw music.

Flyleaf delivers both in its self-titled debut. The sharp voice of Lacey Mosley, heavy bass and blazing guitars explore a world that’s wracked with pain but longs for more.

“Obviously, the world is not a perfect place and everybody has their story,” Mosley said. “Everyone has fresh wounds, and what we hope to do is meet them there … and just give them hope.”

Mosley knows a lot about wounds — a very difficult childhood, drugs and plans for suicide, all before a fateful trip to church with her grandmother changed her life. Those early experiences give the band’s songs authenticity and impact, which undoubtedly explains its out-of-nowhere success. The CD is No. 2 on Billboard’s Christian sales chart and the powerful “All Around Me” is No. 4 on the Christian rock radio chart.

“Flyleaf” is definitely not a bright, cheery praise disc. It focuses on deep pain that can only be healed by God.

It’s definitely the kind of disc that makes some folks nervous, but Mosley says: “It’s a byproduct of us being who we are. … It’s easier for us to mean what we say in the heavy music.”

The CD opens with the rumbling intro to “I’m So Sick,” which suddenly rips into action with powerful guitar licks and growling vocals. The song captures the essence of Flyleaf and its view of life.

“I think it really defines our generation. Our world is a messed-up place and we feel like messed-up people,” Mosley said during a break on Flyleaf’s European tour last week. “We’re all messed up and sick in some way.”

However, that’s no excuse for giving up on life or God, Mosley said, reciting John 3:17, where Jesus said that he had come to save the world, not condemn it.

Mosley’s conversation is filled with biblical allusions and scripture citations — and the need to hang onto hope no matter what life throws at you.

That message is conveyed in such songs as “Fully Alive,” “Sorrow” and “Red Sam” even though it sometimes lies beneath a thick layer of unpleasant images. For example, “Red Sam” expresses pain so deep that it conjures thoughts of suicide, but maintains hope because “the warmth of your embrace melts my frostbitten spirit” and “you are the truth saving my life.”

Some of the songs are downright blunt. “Cassie” retells the story of Cassie Bernall, who was gunned down in the Columbine High School massacre. The pounding music, clipped vocals and startling lyrics — “Do you believe in God? Say, ‘Yes,’ to pull the trigger” — convey a sense of urgency for making a decision about faith.

The song has become one of the most popular at concerts.

“It seems like everybody knows that song and they sing it louder than any other song,” Mosley said.

The disc downshifts in tempo toward the end, with “There For You” and “So I Thought.” These slower songs are quite good, offering insightful thoughts on life and God.

When asked which of the songs she prefers, Mosley focuses on the future.

“Different seasons have different prayers in them. The prayers in the last record are still in my heart … but I’d rather sing the new songs,” she said, referring to a planned sophomore CD.

A song that might make that disc focuses on U.S. servicemembers. The band is based near Fort Hood, Texas, so “we have a lot of close friends and fans that are in the military,” Mosley said.

The song “Justice and Mercy” follows a woman who’s being deployed. She realizes that duty often requires sacrifice and that faith is vital to facing the difficulties involved. “God is good and faithful — always — even if we don’t understand it,” Mosley said.

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