Mean What You Say
Sent By Ravens In 2010 Sent By Ravens released their debut album, Our Graceful Words, on Tooth & Nail Records with critical acclaim. Now two years later we get their next highly anticipated album titled Mean What...
Children of Fire
Oh, Sleeper Oh Sleeper's third album, Children of Fire, tells a chilling story about a world that believes God and Satan are dead. The main characters are a Christian father and an atheist daughter who are both questioning...
MyChildren MyBride MyChildren MyBride takes metalcore to a new level with their sophomore album Lost Boy. This is a much better band and sound than Unbreakable in 2008. The band has clearly learned a lot since their...
Good | Posted March-04-2012
In 2010 Sent By Ravens released their debut album, Our Graceful Words, on Tooth & Nail Records with critical acclaim. Now two years later we get their next highly anticipated album titled Mean What You Say. The formula that is on Mean What You Say is a significant difference from their debut, but it works surprisingly well.
The first song, "Prudence," comes off as almost punk rock with crunchy guitar chords and fast drum beat. "Rebuild, Release" is another upbeat rocker that really showcases the range that vocalist Zach Riner has to offer. The heaviest song, "We're All Liars," is an amazing, agnst filled song and features the only screams on the album. The album slows a bit for "Learn From The Night" and "Mean What You Say," and contains a couple nice ballads called "Never Be Enough" and "Best In Me."
The lyrics on this album are about as honest as you can get. "Listen" is a meaningful song with lyrics that tell us that the best way to love is to listen ("Love is waiting for you patiently, when you learn to listen"). The song "Need It Today" talk of the need to live right everyday ("it's easy to say I'll get better soon, but I need it today"). The final song "Best In Me," is about relying on God's strength ("I'm not that strong, honestly I'm not, but You always see the best in me").
The major flaw is that the album has only 10 tracks, 32 minutes in length, and ends abruptly. The sophmore slump has been avoided by Sent By Ravens. They have found a great balance between heavy, melodic, and soft sounds that blend well. The metal sounds from their debut are almost completely gone, but this album is great for rock fans in general.
WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF FIRE! | Posted September-08-2011
Oh Sleeper's third album, Children of Fire, tells a chilling story about a world that believes God and Satan are dead. The main characters are a Christian father and an atheist daughter who are both questioning their beliefs. The music is just as heavy, technical, and epic if not more than Son of the Morning, the band's sophomore album.
The first track, "Endseekers" opens the album perfectly with blistering drums courtesy of new drummer Zac Mayfield, as well as technical riffs and melodies from Shane Blay. The chaos begins on "Shed Your Soul" when Micah Kinard ferociously belts out even more gutteral screams than ever before as he says, "I saw God die!" The next song, "The Marriage of Steel and Skin" is the father, believing God is dead, avenges his daughter's rape by brutally decapitating the rapist ("Cut until the head comes off"). The song will give you chills. "Hush Yael" shows some of the evil in the real world by talking about an Israeli family who is torn apart by terrorism. The father and older daughter are murdered, while the mother hides and covers the mouth of two year old Yael in an attempt to keep her quiet, suffocating her.
"The Conscience Speaks" is a brief acoustic song that seems to be the father's conscience, convicting him of killing ("You shed his blood in my name"). Next up is the intense "Dealers of Fame", which follows a verse-chorus-verse pattern that you will remember for a while. "Means to Believe" is another acoustic ballad about the girl who is questioning God and asking for proof of His existence. "In the Wake of Pigs", which has possibly the most memorable chorus on the album, God assures the characters that "You are not alone, in the eye of the darkest storm."
While short, "Claws of a God" is one of the more technical songs, as well as the biggest breakdown in my opinion. "The Family Ruin" is a haunting song about the daughter killing her father, with Kinard playing the role of her conscience ("It's ironic that you're contemplating murder while I'm educating you in mercy"). The next song, "Chewing the Stitch" has a catchy intro riff and is about the daughter finding God and forgiveness from murder in Jesus and feeling alive in Him. The epic closer title track, "Children of Fire" is a flat-out battle cry that makes you want to join the battle ("We are the children of fire, we are the lions/We stand when all else deserted, we were born to fight").
The only downfall to this album is the length of 36 minutes and songs below or around 3 minutes, leaving you wanting more. Fans will be glad they didn't compromise sound, rather beefed it up and refined it. The only conclusion I can come to about Oh Sleeper is they can only get better with each release. 9/10
Great! | Posted August-12-2011
MyChildren MyBride takes metalcore to a new level with their sophomore album Lost Boy. This is a much better band and sound than Unbreakable in 2008. The band has clearly learned a lot since their debut, and it shows.
Musically, there is much of the same as Unbreakable, but it sounds cleaner and tighter. The guitars make themselves known in highlight tracks "Crimson Grim" and the hardcore punk-like "Redeemer." Matthew's vocals are very diverse, as he can go from deathcore growls to hardcore punk yells ("King of the Hopeless"). The breakdowns are huge, with chest pounding double bass, grinding guitars, and even gang vocals. The best breakdowns are in "King of the Hopeless," "Lost Boys," and "Nuclear."
The lyrics are not without substance either. The lyrics: "Our mortal flesh is nothing but a mantle of corruption, unveil and deliver into the hands of our Creator," in "Terra Firma" is a clear reference to God. In "Dark Passenger" they say "A live lived in fear isn't a life lived at all." And "Redeemer" it talks about purpose ("We were designed for so much more than this life we're living").
Overall, the only flaw is that the songs sound very similar to each other, but when it's this good, I don't mind much. This album will most likely appeal to fans of Unbreakable, metalcore in general, even punk fans might enjoy this. Well done, MCMB for reinventing an oversaturated genre.
Cool. | Posted August-11-2011
Post-hardcore band The Color Morale's debut album We All Have Demons surprises at the first listen. It's clear the band knows what they're doing when it comes to post-hardcore. Not many people have heard of this band. With that being said, I dove into this album with low expectations.
The first song, "The Sage of Washington Oaks," is pretty much your typical two-minute-long post-hardcore song: singing and screaming intertwined with double bass and decent guitar riffs. But then "Close Your Eyes And Look Away" blasts on the scene and you begin to realize what this band does best. By the time "Humannequin" comes on, you begin to notice lead vocalist Garrett Rapp's exceptional ability to go from low growls to sky high melodies with ease. The guitars flow perfectly through each song, and the drums do their job to keep a beat as well.
The lyrics on We All Have Demons are well written and thought provoking. "A Sponge In The Ocean" talks about love with lyrics like, "Those who deserve love the least need it the most," while the melodic "Hopes Anchor" is about perseverance ("I won't quit until I know that I truly tried"). And in the last song, "I, The Jury," Rapp reveals his compassion for the lost ("Father, Father will they let you in, let you in?").
At the end of this 34-minute album, you realize The Color Morale does it better than most in the genre. There's nothing unique here, but it's more excellent than you would expect from a fairly young band. Their sound is more mature than their age. If you like Underoath, Gwen Stacy, or A Bullet For Pretty Boy, than this one could be your next favorite.
In 2009, The Great Commission released their debut album, And Every Knee Shall Bow through Strike First Records. Now they've signed to Ain't No Grave Records, along with Sleeping Giant and As Hell Retreats, to release their sophomore album, Heavy Worship. This album takes a step up from the debut.
The first major difference you notice as "Don't Go To Church, Be The Church" plays is the clean vocals that sound strikingly similar to those of A Day To Remember. This helps to distinguish one song from another, whereas the songs on their debut sounded very similar. The guitars are mostly crunchy, chugga-chugga style with several good riffs sprinkled in. The drums are not as good as they could've been, due to the repetitive beats and a little lack of creativity. The screams, or growls remind me a little of Matthew Hasting of MyChildren MyBride, especially in "The Juggernaut" and "Reap What You Sow."
The lyrics are convicting and as hard hitting as the music. The song "Preaching To The Choir" talks about people who fake Christianity at church ("Some say Christians don't tell lies, they just sing them on Sunday morning"). "Weight Of The World" simply acknowledges that, "I know You are always with me, even to the end of the age." And the song "The Walking Dead" desperately asks the question "Will you stand with this generation or will you watch it dig its own grave?"
All in all, this album is a huge improvement upon their debut two years ago. The only complaint I have is that the guitars are a little generic and could have been a little more technical. Those of you who loved And Every Knee Shall Bow might not like the emo choruses here, but if you like some good spirit-filled hardcore, support the band's mission and pick this one up.
Emery does what they want | Posted July-22-2011
Emery's fifth album is the first album released through Solid State Records as well as Tooth & Nail. This album was said to be heavier and more brutal. And with Devin Shelton gone, I thought it was going to be much heavier. I was half-wrong:
The Cheval Glass 9.5/10 - The most brutal song on the album. The screams blend perfectly with Toby's melodies. Breakdowns are very good too. It should have been longer though.
Scissors 9/10 - Another heavier song, but with more singing. The intro is very heavy, and the guitars in the first verse are great. Chorus is your typical Emery catchy melody with background screaming.
The Anchors 9/10 - This song has one of their best screaming parts to date. Don't fear though, because the singing's just as prevalent in this song. This song is about the power of words.
Curse of Perfect Days 9/10 - The most catchy song on the album. It starts of slow before the screaming comes in, then the chorus will have you singing along. Nothing to complain about here. Your typical Emery doing what they do best.
You Wanted It 10/10 - This song conveys the overall theme of the album. It's a haunting conversation between God and a selfish person who is doing what they want. The bridge nearly brought tears to my eyes ("And all the nights that you cried in your bed, hoping I was there but you told yourself you’re old and alone").
I'm Not Here For Rage... 9.5/10 - This song is a little more poppy, but good nonetheless. The chugging guitars in the verses are awesome. The guitar solo, written by ABR's JB Brubaker, is great too.
Daddy's Little Peach 8/10 - A much more mellow song than the others. It doesn't start screaming until the end. But it is catchy and will get stuck in your head.
Addicted To Bad Decisions 9/10 - This song is almost pop-punk since there's no screaming. It just shows that an Emery song doesn't need screaming to be good. It is a song about relationships.
I Never Got To See The West Coast 8/10 - A very mellow acoustic song. It's a touching song about the consequences of walking away from God and doing what you want.
Fix Me 9/10 - Another slow acoustic song. This song is about Jesus taking all the pain of doing what you want. Simple lyrics like "Jesus fix me," show you what the band is all about.
Overall 9/10 - This album is not as heavy as Solid State made it sound, but it's good Emery anyway. They are just doing what they do best, which is crank out some catchy screamo tunes. Keep doing what you want, Emery!
The Color Morale | Posted July-18-2011
Just 6 months ago, I had never heard of The Color Morale. Then a Christian radio station called RadioU introduced me to them. I heard their song samples on iTunes and bought it. I was stunned with what I found in this album. This is the most memorable metalcore album of the year!
Lead singer Garrett Rapp can easily go from growls to melodies with ease on almost every song. The guitars aren't as good as the vocals but they do great at adding extra muscle to the songs. The drumming is drowned out a little but the double bass really grabs my attention.
The lyrics are thoughtful and thought provoking. In "The Dying Hymn," are the lyrics: "The world can't make you faithless when faith is first," the song "Be Longing Always," says: "We all fail, but we are not all failures," and the song "Walkers," has lyrics like: "We are not useless, just used." There are some intense lyrics in "Nerve Endings" when they use the word "damned", and in "Quote on Quote" they use the word "bastard" in the right context.
Everything has improved since their first album, "We All Have Demons". If you listen to the song "Demon Teeth" you can see how they have gotten heavier. In "This Lost Song Is Yours" you notice their fully melodic side. This album is a contender for best of the year. If you like a little more melody in your metalcore, this album is perfect.
They're back! | Posted July-09-2011
August Burns Red is a little band from Manheim, PA who stormed onto the scene in 2005 with the brutal Thrill Seeker. Since then they acquired vocalist Jake Luhrs to replace Josh McMannes in 2006. They then released the mind-blowing Messengers in 2007, and the technical Constellations in 2009. Now they have made a somewhat triumphant return with Leveler. Here is a track-by-track breakdown (pun intended) of the album:
Empire: 10/10 - Everything you need from ABR: Explosive breakdowns, crushing drums courtesy of Matt Greiner, and technical riffs. The gang vocal section is amazing and fits in well. Jake's range has greatly improved, too.
Internal Cannon: 9/10 - This one has one of the best breakdowns on the album. Also the best guitar line by JB in this song. I gave it a 9 because of the weird Mariachi sections.
Divisions: 7/10 - The first half of this song is insane: Jake goes all over the place vocally, and is his best performance. Drumming is brutally fast, and the breakdown destroys everything. The second half is one long chord progression and drum pattern, and is a bit boring.
Cutting the Ties: 8/10 - This song has the best intro I've heard since "Truth of A Liar". The middle has some good sections, but kind of uninteresting. It picks up the pace again at the end with a great breakdown that saves the song.
Pangaea: 8/10 - This song showcases the technical abilities of guitarist JB Brubaker. Incredible solo that reminds me of the solo in Emery's "I'm Not Here For Rage..." which JB also performed. Great overall song.
Carpe Diem: 5/10 - The only good thing about this song is the argument vocals between Jake and bassist Dustin. Other than that it's 90% chord progression and 10% steel guitar. It sounds like a remix of "Meridian" but worse.
40 Nights 9.5/10 - This song pounds you with classic ABR breakdowns, and makes you think Messengers and Constellations had a child. You can hear the lyrical maturity with lyrics like: "You are Goliath standing firm in your light. We are David and you're in our sights."
Salt & Light: 6/10 - The first half of this song sounds decent, and a run-of-the-mill hardcore song. It's enough to keep your interest until it turns slow with spoken word vocals. The ending has some clean vocals that sound a little out of place.
Poor Millionare: 10/10 - The most hard hitting song on the album, both musically and lyrically. It has the most in-your-face lyrics of any ABR song to date. As you get pummeled by the metalcore bliss, Jake delivers the KO punch as he screams "You are the pretender!"
1/16/2011: ?? - Sad story behind this song.
Boys of Fall: 9/10 - This song is a super fast rollercoaster thrillride. It is dedicated to some boys who were killed in Lancaster, PA. I only gave this 9 because it slows down at the end, and that loses my interest.
Leveler: 9.5/10 - The perfect way to end this installment of ABR history. Sweeping guitars, crazy drums, and brutal breakdowns remind us why ABR made it this far. This song deals with forgiving someone who hurt Jake in the past, but he acknowledges God for helping him.
Overall: 9/10 - ABR set the bar so high on the first three albums, that it was almost impossible for this one to beat it, but it was close. Old ABR fans will still have much to love on most songs. This one will tide us over until the next album, and here's hoping the experimenting won't continue.
Moving 'onward' with sophmore album | Posted March-29-2011
Just last year, Facedown Records' Onward To Olympas crashed on the scene with the phenomenal "This World Is Not My Home". Now about 14 months later we get "The War Within Us". It's just about as good as their debut. Now, lets get in the warzone.
Intro track, "The Continuance" literally picks up where the debut left off until blasting into the title track. We hear Kramer starts belting out the growls, and then.....what's this? A new clean vocalist replaced Justin Gage. It's an improvement from Gage's somewhat whiney voice. This adds some extra power to the already powerful lyrics. The only complaint is the next four songs are barely over or under 3 minutes. They are great but are over before you know it. "Structures", while short, shows how the band grew in the technical riff category. Good chorus as well. "The March" slows things down but has lyrics of redemption: "One sacrifice brings us back to life/ one Man who died, saved our lives" The last track "Rebuilt" ends with the words: "We are everlasting"
"The war within us is so impossible to win alone" is the overall message of the album. Even though the music sounds like a war (in a good way), these lyrics couldn't be more right. Metalheads everywhere, do yourself a favor and give this one a listen. And make sure your fighting this war on God's side because: "We're fighting a war that's already been won"
Red finds their identity | Posted March-29-2011
Red's third album takes a different approach this time. It has some of the bands heaviest songs to date, and some of the most mellow songs too. If you are a fan of Red, don't expect this album to destroy your eardrums. When you get rocked by one song, another song comes on to calm you down.
The first track, "Feed The Machine" is easily the band's heaviest song to date. Amazing display of in-your-face intensity. The single "Faceless" is not quite as intense, but it packs a punch and possibly the best track. It talks about being faceless without God: "Fallen and faceless/ so hollow, hollow inside" "Lie To Me (Denial) is another solid track with incredibly powerful lyrics to go with it: "All the pain you fed starts to grow inside/ It lives again and you can't let it die" The next track "Let It Burn" slows it down for the first ballad which seems to be about someone choosing pain over God. "Buried Beneath" is on the line of power ballad and mid-tempo rock. It is possibly the most diverse song on the album. "Not Alone" is a ballad with lyrics from God's perspective. The next three songs ("Watch You Crawl", "The Outside" and "Who We Are") really show how the band has matured in their hard rock edge. The guitar intro to "Watch You Crawl" is incredible, the verses in "The Outside" are different, and "Who We Are" is a nice pop-punk track. The album closes out with the uplifting "Best Is Yet To Come" and the thought provoking "Hymn For The Missing".
Overall, the album can sound a little generic at times and can sound like Breaking Benjamin. But one thing Breaking Benjamin have never done is use positive lyrics that point to the Savior. That's how we find our identity!