Review Summary: Without a doubt, Spoken have grown in this release. If they would cut out the boring experimental tracks and try more with their instruments, Spoken could be a huge force in Christian music.
Spoken- A Moment of Imperfect Clarity
After a fairly standard nu-metal/rapcore hybrid as a first release, Spoken were left at the end of the genre they played in three years before. Nu-metal/rapcore was starting to stale out, and Spoken was left with the question of where to go next. In a moment of imperfect clarity, they decided to go with more of a melodic hard rock/post-hardcore direction. The question is: does it pay off?
From opener “Across These Waters”, this change is apparent. There’s still a ton of distorted guitar and pounding drums, but Matt Baird actually leads the charge primarily with his unique clean vocals. All of the song is screamless, giving much more of a hard rock feel than their 2000 release. It also sounds better than anything off the 2000 release, and doesn’t sound like a heavier P.O.D. ripoff. Second track “Promise” is also a quieter rocker, leaning much more on the newfound melodic side of Spoken. Matt’s cleans can get a little annoying to some, but others think they fit the band perfectly. A small breakdown later in the track brings the heavier material back into the picture, but it doesn’t last too long. Rocker “Remembered” starts out with some great riffing and harmonics, and this is possibly some of the best playing the whole album. Matt’s relying mainly on clean vocals again, but brings in some of his signature screams later in the song. “In Dreams” is another good rocker, with some great drumming and screaming. Though Spoken has gone more melodic this time, most of the rockers are better than anything off of Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell. For those who were fans of the progressive experimentation of the first record, “Breath In The Fog, A” is a decent progressive song, but doesn’t differ much from the progressive tracks off the first record. “Sleep Well Tonight” is better, though, and sounds a little more separate from Echoes. “Falling Further” is a ballad-like alternative rock number, and it’s one of the main standouts of the album, along with “Across These Waters” and “Promise.”
Positives include less of a dependence on nu-metal, and more of a straight hard rock sound. The whole band sounds better this way, and less of a P.O.D. ripoff. Also, Matt sounds a lot more comfortable in his clean vocals, and although there are less of his trademark screams, it works better for him. Most of the rockers are better, and alt-rock song “Falling Further” is highly enjoyable. Negatives are mundane instrumentation, it’s pretty much cliché hard rock playing throughout. Production is off, making Matt seem louder than he is, and the guitars muddy. Also, there’s still boring filler that easily could have been cut out. However, marginal improvements have kept the band from a sophomore slump.
Lyrically, it’s standard Christian fare. Matt cries out to God, mourns lost love, and tells of spiritual warfare. It’s a typical delivery, and nothing special. Without a doubt, Spoken have grown in this release. If they would cut out the boring experimental tracks and try more with their instruments, Spoken could be a huge force in Christian music.