The origins of Tooth & Nail's highly heralded hard rock acquisition The Letter Black actually dates back to the members time in Breaking the Silence. After forming in 2006, the group entered the studio independently with Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Pillar, Disciple), followed by an impressive streak of 150 shows a year including a last minute call from the T&N to serve as a substitute for a broken up band on the otherwise successful Five 4 Five Tour alongside Dizmas and Children 18:3 (with just two weeks notice), and more recently, Skillet's immensely successful Awake and Alive Tour. Between constant contact with the label through that all-star producer and their new manager, the Uniontown, Pennsylvania-based band turned their backs on other label offers and signed by
the dotted line.
Upon making it to the major label ranks, the group stumbled upon a similarly named mainstream band and soon shifted from Breaking the Silence to The Letter Black after a suggestion that stemmed from a joke between legendary Helmet front man Page Hamilton and manager Danny Hill. Outside of having a curious ring to it, the new moniker better encapsulates the band's aggressive instrumental onslaught and literate lyrical disposition.
"All of us go through different chapters in our lives," suggests guitarist/co-songwriter Mark Anthony. "In these chapters, we write letters of good and bad times. Some letters in our chapters, we are happy to share. Others, we are not so proud of. The Letter Black reminds us of the past mistakes we have made and helps us remember to not keep making the same mistakes."
After debuting with the aptly titled Breaking the Silence EP, the group expounds upon those poignant reflections all the more on its full-length debut Hanging On By A Thread, encapsulating back breaking rhythms within universally relatable themes to both believers and the world at large.
"The full-length will rock just as hard, if not harder, as the EP," affirms front woman Sarah Anthony. "We came up with the title because it puts into words how a lot of people, including myself, feel sometimes. A lot of people can relate to it, and that's what we want."
"Fire With Fire" is a snarling way to start the disc, as it speaks of standing up to injustice with confidence and fearlessness, followed by "Invisible," which addresses feelings of restlessness and desperation, but eventually steers listeners towards spiritual embrace as a means of resolution. "Best of Me" revolves around making the most of the talents and gifts given here on earth, while "Hanging By a Thread" cries out in desperation and finding resolution through perseverance.
"A lot of our songs on this record talk about the past and how to move forward from it," adds Sarah. "The songs talk about hurts and things that we've been through, but they show that it's possible to move on with you're life and it's possible to live life without walls built up around your heart."
All the while, the band evokes the aggressive likes of Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, Red and Disciple, coupled with the classic sensibilities of Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses. Add in blistering production from the legendary Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Korn, 3 Doors Down), and it's a riveting amalgamation of female fronted ferocity, meaty melodies, gritty guitars and a thundering rhythm section. No wonder why members have been invited to appear on stage with Hail (including Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Phil Demmel of Machine Head, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth & Tim "Ripper" Owens of Judas Priest), a fellow super group jam featuring Dave Buckner of Papa Roach, Marcos Curiel of P.O.D., Travis Miguel of Atreau and Marcello Rapp of Soulfly, alongside Traa of P.O.D. serving as guest bassist for the band during a benefit, not to mention tremendous impact on the Skillet tour.
"Skillet has such a great live show, so they've definitely inspired us to do the best we can in that aspect," confirms Sarah. "We also gained a lot of their fans and had so many people come up to us on the tour saying 'I've never heard of you before tonight, but you guys are my new favorite band.'"
As for 2010, expect that trend to continue, thanks to an endless stream of concerts supporting Hanging On By A Thread, coupled with a constant fan connectivity off stage as well. "We'd like to get on as many tours as possible, do a lot of shows and build a stronger fan base," sums up Sarah. "And more than anything else, we want to continue bringing hope to those who have none."