Overcoming Past Pain And Finding Future Hope: ‘This Is Not the End’ By Manafest

Ever since his days in the early-2000s underground music scene in Canada, Manafest has been steadily releasing a brand of music that takes elements from various genres to create something uniquely beautiful. It is no surprise, then, that his tenth full length album and third solo project contains deep and unabashedly faith-oriented subject matter delivered through the vehicle of rock, urban, and pop elements blended together.

Released on December 13, This Is Not the End is rooted in urban and hip hop and layered with elements of pop sprinkled with alternative rock guitars and vocals. Collaborating with longtime cowriter Trevor McNevan (Thousand Foot Krutch), “This Is Not the End” is a high octane opener, setting the tone musically for the next half hour while serving as an opening statement for the overall theme.

This is not the end
It’s a place where we begin
In every war we fight, we fall, we bleed, we rise again
But this is not the end
When the walls are closing in
We won’t run away
We’ll shape the world and start again

“All Time High” stands out musically with more hip hop and pop elements than rock– definitely a quality mix sure to remind listeners of twenty one pilots. “Kamikaze” follows it up with a drastically different rock feel, starting more like a Disciple or Thousand Foot Krutch tune. This change of pace is something that Manafest pulls off throughout the album– shifting from hip hop to pop to rock and roll not only from track to track, but also within each song.

Lyrically, Manafest is focused on overcoming past choices and not allowing those to define the future or separate us from the purpose that God has in store. Our past is not the end; there is hope and forgiveness and healing to be found if we are able to forgive ourselves and move forward.

This theme is evident particularly on two tunes halfway through that tug at heartstrings. “Plan for Me” is a song about parents who wrestled with the difficult choice to give up a baby, but from the unique perspective of that child in heaven. There is a conflict of pain and suffering from the choice that was made, yet starkly contrasted with hope that the unborn child is waiting on the other side and has compassion and love for their parent.

“Born for This” answers that emotional battle with a thumping reminder that we all have a purpose in this life, and that God has plans for us no matter what circumstances we’ve traversed.

This battle is painted at times with symbolism of war. “Grenades,” which is among the heavier rock tracks, is a song about finding a way to forgive someone who holds a grudge and not allowing it to be destructive.

Your grudge is like a grenade
That’s blowing up in your face
How bitter is the taste
How bitter is the taste

But you keep throwing these bombs
Like it means nothing at all
And so I just shake it off
I just shake it off

Two songs tie the theme together perfectly. “Come Back Home” serves as an invitation to return into a daily walk with God despite circumstances from the past that may have caused pain, whether they be bad experiences with a church or other people of faith or life situations. If “Come Back Home” is the invitation, “I Made It” is a resounding anthem that answers that call with an emphatic yes. This song brings up a lot of difficulties like being fatherless, addicted, and lost. Then it bursts into a victory lap of a chorus:

It’s good to be alive
It’s good to be alive
Through the Hell and the struggle
Ring the bell if ya hustle
‘Cause you made it
Yeah, you made it
It’s good to be alive
It’s good to be alive
From the day you was born
You comin’ outta the storm
‘Cause you made it
Yeah, you made it

This Is Not the End is on-brand for Manafest, uniquely bringing elements of many different genres together to create an unrivaled listening experience. Lyrically, this album seems like a continuation of 2017 release Stones, which was about silencing doubting voices and pursuing God’s purpose.

This album has something for everyone, from rock fans to urban to pop. It is simultaneously deep and thought-provoking while also being an album that can be easily consumed in a single sitting. This Is Not the End serves as a reminder that it is possible to find hope and purpose even in the midst of the most impossible circumstances.

Find This Is Not the End on Spotify, Apple Music, or in the Manafest online store (hard copy).

Related Artists: twenty one pilots, Thousand Foot Krutch

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