Review Summary: In the over-saturated and often boring music scene they inhabit, Sent By Ravens have once again succeeded in creating an album that is both memorable and mature.
Around two years ago, a young, mid-pubescent boy returned from a hard day’s work at school and immediately disregarded his homework in hopes of instead discovering a new band for his ears to immerse themselves in. After a few desperation clicks of the mouse and YouTube searches, the boy stumbled upon a newly released post-hardcore album. He firmly attached his headphones to his cranium, pressed the play button, and uncovered what was to be one of his favorite new bands; that mid-pubescent boy was me, and that band was Sent By Ravens. Right from the opening measures of “New Fire”, the thick and powerful riffs, booming drums, and soaring melodies the band pumped out almost effortlessly captivated my ears. Though they didn’t do too much in the way of making me think, “wow, this album is like nothing I’ve ever heard before”, one thing was clear; the band, while young, was very skilled in their craft and wrote a pretty impeccable debut. When I heard that they were in the process of writing a new record, my interest was piqued, but I remained a tad skeptical; would they regress in quality? Would the album sound like a carbon copy of the first? Well, after letting Mean What You Say sit in my ear canals over the last several days, the answer to both questions shall remain now and forever a resounding “NAY!”.
I will refrain from the mincing of words here; Mean What You Say is a far, far more accessible album than Our Graceful Words. The screams that bolstered the power of the bands’ debut are kept to the bare minimum. After repeated listens, it’s almost painfully obvious to see that the band was clearly reaching for a more melodic sound this go-around. In that regard, the band definitely succeeded; this album has more catchy choruses than a Coldplay record and more hooks than a boxing ring. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Not at all. The band’s songwriting skill has not diminished in the slightest, and I would argue that almost every strength made apparent on the debut has been further refined and improved here. Songs like “Learn from the Night” and “However Long It Takes” boast incredibly huge and catchy choruses that are as accessible to the masses as they are to the most hardcore fans of Our Graceful Words. As I went through this record, the layers of sound began to peel back and I uncovered what sounded like plenty of outside influences; for example, the title track sounds like a beautiful love child between 2005 era and current era 30 Seconds to Mars, while “Best In Me” sounds like a mesh of RED’s lighter material and Skillet. This is a definite improvement over the debut; as good as the debut was, many of the songs sounded quite similar and this album absolutely made an attempt to correct that. While I wouldn’t say the album consistently keeps you on your toes, I never felt bored while listening and never felt like any of the songs ran into each other.
While most of this album is very impressive, virtually no record is flawless and Mean What You Say is by no means an exception. While the record mostly maintains a decent form of consistency in terms of quality, I found “Need It Today” to be very much weak when compared many of the other tracks on this album. The song contains a riff that alternates back and forth between 2 notes that I found repeated itself far too often, to the point where it almost became grating; at just shy of 4 minutes long, I found myself just wishing the track would end at several points. In addition, vocalist Zach Riner seems to have altered his vocal style a little; not to the point of sheer distraction, but the change is definitely notable. I can’t decide if it’s more nasally, more high pitched, or both at once; but in any case, I found the vocals to be a bit weaker than they were on the debut. The only other really noticeable flaw I noticed was that the album is very short, clocking in at just over 32 minutes. Although it’s clearly not as taxing on the listener as some of the progressive rock and metal albums coming out recently, it makes for a very light listen and left me yearning for just a bit more.
In the over-saturated and often boring music scene they inhabit, Sent By Ravens have once again succeeded in creating an album that is both memorable and mature. Post hardcore and hard rock fans take note; this is an album you should all be looking for.