Nashville-based worship artists, Here Be Lions, takes its name from the ancient mapping tradition in which explorers marked unknown, dangerous territory with a symbol and the phrase “Here Be Lions.” Originally meant as a warning, the phrase has become a call for the Here Be Lions team to advance God’s kingdom and authority through their moving songs of vertical worship. Their debut album, Only A Holy God gives us twelve tracks written with the local church in mind.
The collective is led by long time worship leader, Dustin Smith, who gets most of the mic time with his smooth tenor guiding the listener through themes of God’s power and the freedom we have in Christ. Many of the songs were co-written with such names as Sooter, Stu G, Joshua Silverberg, and Chris Quilala.
For the most part, the album’s style is along the lines of Hillsong and Bethel, with most tracks being of the pop/rock genre, so there is nothing really new there. The better cuts include the opening song, “Wildfire,” which is an energetic service opener inviting the Holy Spirit to ignite a burning within our hearts. “Only A Holy God” begins with a melodic piano riff as Dustin sings of the incredible power and justice that only our God possesses, and how He alone is worthy of not only our sung praises, but our entire lives as a response.
The best song on the album is “God, Would You Forgive Us,” which begins with subtle, fingerpicking acoustic guitar as Dustin sings about how humanity needs to lay down our pride and our “self-made crowns” and “castle’s on the sand” while asking for God’s forgiveness for our nation.
This was a nice first effort from Here Be Lions. The mix was crisp and clean throughout, and the instrumentation was on point. Lyrically, however there is some work to do. There were a number of songs that began with a solid theme, but for some reason fell back into overused clichés when the chorus or 2nd verse came around. This lack of continued thematic focus made a few songs sound like they were mashed together with a completely different song. In the same breath, there were brilliantly written songs like “Miracles” and “God, Would You Forgive Us”. I think with a little maturation of songwriting and development of an individualistic sound that doesn’t sound like Hillsong or Bethel, great things could be on the horizon for Here Be Lions.