On May 17th, 30 Seconds to Mars, the Jared Leto-fronted, stadium-colonizing band, released Love, Lust, Faith, and Dreams, their newest and most extravagant album to date. This might seem like an odd fact to open a review of The Almost’s Fear Inside Our Bones, but, as it turns out, dates are key, and The Almost, a Christian rock group lead by former Underoath wailer Aaron Gillepsie, learned this the hard way, releasing their similarly overblown third album one month after Dreams. The thing about melodrama is that too much of it makes you notice it.
See, there’s very little on Fear to convince us that we aren’t just listening to Jared Leto finding Jesus. The problem then becomes that even at its most 30 Seconds to Mars-iest (the album’s title track “Fear Inside Our Bones”), Fear fails to deliver any of the overblown cinematics that make Jared Leto worth paying attention to in the first place. This is why, when the dust is settled on an oddly placed and borderline disrespectful cover of Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy”, you might feel like you’ve sat through After Earth when Man of Steel is playing right next-door. Fear Inside Our Bones is Aaron Gillespie searching for the kind of blockbuster, populist art that could mold Christian platitudes into something more lofty and thrilling, but his emotional beats are far too restrained. To make it work, he’s going to have to go full thespian.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Gillepsie, after all he did come up through a thriving screamo-core scene better known for his drumming than his (ahem) singing. And Christian emo is a hard sell, I would assume, even to his old constituents, so I don’t discount his earnestness here either. I guess what has me baffled is the album’s opener, a bluesy bar-burner called “Ghost” that aspires to White Stripes gadgetry but ends up closer to a screamier Black Keys stomp. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s actually a step in the right direction. It might be improbable, but maybe Christian rock’s only way into populist culture is through the side door, that same entrance The Black Keys used when they went full soul on their breakout Brothers.
This isn’t to say that “Ghost” will conquer the radio anytime soon, but it certainly is a sound to dilate and mine to see what else could be pulled out. Who knows, maybe Aaron Gillepsie could make the Christian rock Little Miss Sunshine.