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To date, newsboys sold over 6 million albums, minted five gold records, charted more than 25 No. 1 radio hits and earned four Grammy nominations. In the Hands of God, however, wipes the slate clean with vivid flashbacks to a fresh-faced Australian band struggling to find its place. By retracing its early footsteps, the band captures an urgency and hunger that lights the songs ablaze with internal fire. The album then channels this energy into an unbreakable string of quick-hitting melodies that never seem to fade. It's newsboys laid bare, as seen through the looking glass of God's providence.
"The Way We Roll" starts the journey with loud guitars, slappin' beats and snarling punk vocals that offer a bird's eye view to the indignities suffered as a young band. "No Grave" doesn't let up, using hometown memories to ponder death's defeat as anvil-heavy chords empty into a ferocious bridge. Songs like "Glorious" and "In the Hands of God" take a reflective turn with verses steeped in grateful memories and choruses exploding into worship. "My Friend Jesus" gives the album a humorous twist with images of a caller going mad from waiting on hold, while "This Is Your Life" drops audio ear candy with waves of guitars crashing over electro-pop pulses. And while In the Hands of God opens with a defiant anthem from a band that refused surrender, "RSL 1984" closes the disc with band visionary Peter Furler offering a touching look at his youth beautifully poured out like a diary over piano keys, strings and electric/acoustic guitars.
As is the norm, In the Hands of God continues the lyrical partnership between Furler and music icon Steve Taylor, but the disc added some new names to the production front. Studio wizard Max Hsu (Superchick, tobyMac) – described as "a fantastic sounding board and someone who really understands what fans like best about the band" – made his debut as a newsboys producer, while bassist-keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein joined Furler for the first time as a co-producer. The band also welcomed back longtime guitarist Jody Davis, who left the group in 2003 to care for a daughter with cerebral palsy, rejoining a lineup that still features Duncan Phillips' masterful backbeat.
As already announced on their website, In the Hands of God marks Furler's final album as the band's lead vocalist. His passion is the songwriting and production, and as a band known for its enterprising ingenuity, Furler will now help drive the creative momentum as a new singer takes over the vocal reins for future tours and albums. Of course, the band ignited an immediate buzz when it announced the new vocalist was Grammy-winning dc Talk singer Michael Tait.
"In the Hands of God is the perfect album to close this chapter of my life and start afresh with an exciting new role within the band," says Furler, who will still make guest appearances at select live shows. "newsboys have always been an idea first and foremost, not a band or a singer. It's about people pulling together their gifts and talents in a collaboration that makes a difference in people's lives."
newsboys are special in that they've always been about more than the people on stage. For example, Steve Taylor doesn't perform with the band, but he's certainly part of the creative team, and to that extent, Tait is also a longtime member of the newsboys family. With both groups starting in America at the same time, newsboys and dc Talk played over 100 shows together, rode in each other's buses on tour and joined each other on stage. Tait can even be seen singing with the newsboys on their 2002 DVD From The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and naturally he provided background vocals on In the Hands of God.
"newsboys and dc talk have been musical 'cousins,' so to speak, for years, so when the call came, it felt pretty natural to me to step in to fill Peter's shoes," Tait remarks. "It's a perfect merger that joins the best of both worlds; I feel like I'm helping to carry on the tradition of two legendary bands who helped put Christian music on the map. newsboys and the fans have really welcomed me into this new era of the band, and In The Hands Of God is one of the newsboys' best albums so far. As I look ahead, I really believe the best is yet to come. I'm excited to be a part of it."
"Everyone who bought a newsboys album probably bought a dc Talk album as well," remarks Furler, "and once you hear Michael sing the songs and talk about the future, it's undeniable."
And the future's never looked brighter. They've made an album that recaptures the emotional energy of their youth with songs that propel the band into the future. Sure, some might say there are elements of Not Ashamed on steroids or a more personal Adoration, but In the Hands of God is an ensemble of creative sparks that prove that viscerally honest narratives can still be inspired rambunctious fun.
"Most bands do their best work early, but we feel In the Hands of God is as strong as our strongest," declares Furler.
He's Coming Back, 1987 (Independent)
Read All About It, 1988 (Refuge)
Hell Is For Wimps, 1990 (Star Song)
Boyz Will Be Boyz, 1991 (Star Song)
Not Ashamed, 1992 (Star Song)
Going Public, 1994 (Star Song)
Take Me To Your Leader, 1996 (Star Song/Virgin)
Entertaining Angels-Maxi Single, 1998 (Star Song)
Step Up To The Microphone, 1998 (Star Song/Virgin)
Love Liberty Disco, 1999 (Sparrow)
Shine-The Hits, 2000 (Sparrow)
Thrive, 2002 (Sparrow)
Newsboys Remixed, 2002 (Sparrow)
Adoration: The Worship Album, 2003 (Sparrow)
Devotion, 2004 (Sparrow)
Thrive: Special Edition, 2005 (Sparrow)
GO Limited Edition CD/DVD, 2006 (Inpop)
GO, 2006 (Inpop)
GO Remixed, 2007 (Inpop)
The Greatest Hits, 2007 (Sparrow)
Houston We Are Go, 2008 (Inpop)
In The Hands Of God, 2009 (Inpop)