If big tent revivals were still a thing and had punk rock bands roaring out anthems to bring people in, then the Festal Shout would be the band to provide the soundtrack. Throw together members of the Last Hope and FBS and what you have is a loud, fast, incredibly catchy, a Tumultous Noise “to revive, to heal, and to worship the Glory of God.”
The Festal Shout is most simply, the band FBS combined with Justin Palenscar of the Last Hope, who provides the lead vocals, but even with the reputation of those established bands, that really wouldn’t do this project justice as the total is much more than the sum of the parts. Origins of the band go all the way back to 2012, four years after Justin has last picked up a guitar for the Last Hope. Turning to prayer in the midst of trying times, Justin had the direction to create a new sound, which really struck him. While nothing really fell into place for a band until 2014, keeping faith in this vision, saw situations turn around and eventually he was working on writing punk praise songs on his guitar by himself. Following an abbreviated two song worship set at Unified Underground that year, Josh Detty of FBS came up and said his band had been praying over this for year and they could hear the music parts to what he was doing and they’d get back to him. Another year later and despite the four hour travel time between everyone, they got back together and started making noise and the Festal Shout was born. Since getting together, the band has been able to play some festival and benefit dates including Take Hold Fest and Audiofeed among others, so this is not just a one-off studio project. The band takes its name from Psalm 89:15, ““Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face..” In the end, mixing and mastering were done by Sef at Simpul Studios in Idaho, adding even more locations to this story, which already included Ohio (FBS) and Pennsylvania (Justin).
The album kicks off with an intro of the traditional gospel tune “Down to the River to Pray” done by band member Charlie Jackson and since the song dates back to the late 1800s, it certainly adds to that big tent revival feel in the way it was recorded. After a verse or two the feedback rings out, the drums come in and the band takes off, led by Justin picking up the chorus from the song. This intro is part of the band’s first track “Power in the Blood” and works seamlessly. In a live setting the band has three guitars to provide that wall of ringing chords characteristic of bands like Bad Religion and others and Justin’s vocals are shouted clear with an air of authority and delivered with conviction. Throughout the ep the band makes use of the multiple parts in the various choruses with gang backing vocals and Justin’s lead vocals delivering different parts and one can’t help but feel the energy. Production and mixing are spot on, with instruments and vocals equally clear and clean but rough.
“Incredible” starts out with a few slower chords ringing out, almost as if the band was warming up and then gallops off at high speed with the band as whole shouting out “Incredible, unstoppable, He is our God”. Even with multiple guitars roaring along the bass of Nate Shumaker and drums of Ryan Evans are clear in the mix and provide a tight rhythm section to keep things moving along. The music bounces along at breakneck speed and is straight ahead fast, melodic punk rock and the vocals are just really special throughout the ep. Not just the lead vocals but the way the baking vocals are incorporated throughout the songs really adds something to the songs.
Often, with projects of this sort, you end up with a new band that sounds like the one band but with a new singer, but that is certainly not the case here. From time to time, there may be some bits that might sound familiar to fans of FBS and the Last Hope, but without knowing the players involved, I imagine most would not be able to guess who was in the band, which is definitely a feat, especially since fans of both bands involved should enjoy this project.
The ep continues in all its catchy glory with “Victory” and “Pounding Waves”, two songs with some epic sing-a-long sections and really if anything ends leaving the listener wanting more. These are the types of songs that if you listen to punk rock at all will draw you in and in a live setting would provide a spectacle you couldn’t walk past without stopping and jumping in. “To revive, to heal, and to worship the Glory of God,” words from Justin about this album and so fitting. You should go get this.
Written by John Jackson]
1. Power in the Blood
4. Pounding Waves
Josh Detty – Guitars
Ryan Evans – Drums
Nate Shumaker – Bass
Kristen Roberts – Guitars
Charlie Jackson – Guitars
Justin Palenscar – Vocals
Record Label: Zap Records, Oct. 2016
Video below: Live version of ‘Power in the Blood’