Review Summary: Spoken don’t embarrass themselves here, but fail to truly impress. If you are looking for a band similar to P.O.D. but with a slightly harder edge, check this out. If not, buy the standout tracks, but skip over this record as a whole.
Spoken: Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell
Spoken (circa 2000):
Matt Baird- vocals
Jesse McDermott- guitar
Ryan Pei- bass
Oliver Crumpton- drums
(Note: It’s possible the lineup isn’t totally accurate, please don’t kill me if it isn’t)
At this time, Spoken was a mix of hardcore and rap/metal. Similar to Andrew Schwab of Project 86 (Drawing Black Lines era), Matt Baird screams his vocals, but does it in a rap-style. This is Spoken’s first big outing, but the second overall album, debuting in 2000. Though not perfect, it’s a good rapcore/rap/rock release, and could be compared to early albums by P.O.D. or P86.
Opener “This Path” tears into the listener with distorted guitars pounding, and Matt Baird laying down screamed raps. It then goes into more quiet clean vocals, then rips back up into heavy screams. It could easily be classified as nu-metal though, and though it’s a great track, it isn’t anything special. The track continues with a blend of quiet, cleanly sung verses, and screamed rapped “choruses”. Jesse just plays typical nu-metal/rapcore riffs, and Oliver bangs on the kit as hard as he can. Ryan Pei has some good bass riffs, but this is still just typical nu-metal. And that’s basically how the rockier tracks on the record go. Songs like “Forevermore”, “Times Before”, and “I Fall Short” pretty much follow the same formula: heavy, guitar-led intro, optional screams, sung verses, screamed “choruses”, and repeat. It gets old fast, and seems like a rip-off of P.O.D. However, if you’re going to rip off a band, at least do a good job. Spoken are just typical nu-metal/rapcore on this record, but they do a good job with the genre.
Spoken does a little better on the non-nu-metal songs. Punk rocker “I Won’t Lie Down” has some great tremolo guitar throughout, and Crumpton does pretty well on drums through the whole thing. Matt does have a unique singing voice, and his clean vocals on this track match up well with his passionate screams. “David” is a stand-out for its blend of hardcore and melodic rock, while “Ember” is an enjoyable rock-oriented instrumental. Jesse gets to show off a little here, with some decent soloing throughout. Progressive rock tracks “The Way You Want Me To Be” and “In The Silence” are also standouts, the former for it’s heavy climax at the end, the latter for how well the band members cohese.
Positives include Matt’s screamed vocals, he’s not a bad screamer. Also, there are times on the record when Jesse will break out of typical riffing, and actually do some soloing. Ryan’s a decent bassist, and you can hear his lines most of the time. The non-nu-metal tracks are pretty good as well, and though the whole album isn’t worth purchasing, these tracks are. The band doesn’t necessarily butcher nu-metal/rapcore, and does it well enough for it to be a little enjoyable. Negatives include the overall generic feel: if you’ve heard early P.O.D., early Disciple, or early P86, you’ve basically heard most of the songs on this album before. The nu-metal tracks aren’t original at all. Also, the production is rough, making the vocals totally overshadow the instruments at times.
Finally, Spoken is a Christian band, and their faith is very prevalent on this record. “This Path” addresses how hard it can be to live the Christian life, while “Forevermore” talks about sticking with God through trials. If you are somebody who is turned off by Christian lyrics, this album isn’t for you.
Spoken don’t embarrass themselves here, but fail to truly impress. If you are looking for a band similar to P.O.D. but with a slightly harder edge, check this out. If not, buy the standout tracks, but skip over this record as a whole.