Review Summary: Overall, Spoken have created their best album yet. They dealt with their flaws, improved upon most of their strong points, and ended up with a great release.
On their last release, Spoken made changes to their sound. Gone were most of the screamed vocals, and also gone was a good deal of their harder edge. While it was still a hard rock record, it was extremely melodic, and didn’t rock near as hard as the first major debut. These progressions were overall positive, but as a whole, the album wasn’t a whole lot stronger than their major debut in 2000. Does Spoken make more progression on this release, or do they just make the same record again"
From opener “September”, it seems like they have. It’s a very strong alt-rock number, with some great guitar riffs, and a good vocal delivery from Matt. While he does rely primarily on clean vocals for this track, it pays off well, much better than “Across These Waters” did from the last album. And don’t worry, his screams are featured in this track, and sound better than before. This is a standout track for sure. Though the opening sounds pretty similar to “Across These Waters”, second track “Wind In My Sail” is also a standout. It’s got a punk rock sound to it, and some very passionate vocals. It’s apparent that the screaming is indeed back, and Spoken just sound much more excited than they sounded on A Moment of Imperfect Clarity and Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell. Great guitar playing is also featured on this track, featuring palm muting, a whammy pedal, mini-soloing, and power-chord bashing. Other standout rockers include “Everything Is Burning”, “Bitter Taste”, and “4th Street.” Both “Everything is Burning” and “Bitter Taste” have a great hardcore edge that was missing from the last release, and is executed better than anything from the first release. “4th Street” has an enjoyable vocal performance from Matt. Next up is the more progressive tracks. On the first release, they were decent. On the last, they were veering more towards bad. Spoken have improved those too, they don’t go on too long, and get more energetic when they need to. Take “1992.” It starts alt-rock, then goes progressive, then has an awesome scream-filled climax. And, that’s really the only true progressive song on the album, thankfully. Ballad “Love In Return” is one of the band’s better ballads, with strong vocals and acoustic guitar playing. The other track that gets closest to a ballad is the Cyndi Lauper cover “Time After Time.” It’s a pretty good cover, and the band does a good job on this pop rock track. However, it’s apparent that their talents rest more in harder rock. The mid-tempo tracks are also a huge highlight. “Home” blends heavier instrumentation with a slower tempo and clean vocals, for great results. Closer “You’re Still Waiting” is melodic for most of the song, but Matt does grace us with a few screams.
Positives include the band’s improvement, they sound better than ever. After experimenting with both rapcore and hard rock, it seems the band have finally found their sound: a sound leaning more to the side of post-hardcore that pays off. Matt also sounds better than ever, his screams are more intense, and his screams are stronger. Speaking of his screams, the fact that they are back is a relief, giving much of the heavy edge Spoken had in 2000 back. The guitarist experiments a tad bit more with his mini-soloing and cool riffing, and he even sounds more improved. Lyrically, they’ve improved as well, but that can be fully addressed later. Also, they finally stop trying to be progressive, with only one track leaning on the side of progressive rock. Negative wise, there’s not as many complaints. It is vocal-and-guitar driven, so don’t expect much from the bass and drums. They carry the music along, but mainly just fade to the background. This isn’t a problem for me, but Matt’s voice can be a little harder to get used to. Also, some of the song intros can tend to sound a little bit like eachother after repeated listens.
Lyrically, the band still holds to their Christian faith. This time, though, it’s much less cheesy. References to God are much more powerful, especially in track “You’re Still Waiting.” However, they also branch out. “Bitter Taste” addresses anger at inner demons, while “Love In Return” is a well-written love song. Overall, Spoken have created their best album yet. They dealt with their flaws, improved upon most of their strong points, and ended up with a great release.