Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spoken Album Review for 'Illusion'

Finally the wait is over! Hard rock band Spoken is back, and they are bringing the noise with their newest release, Illusion.

Prior to Illusion, which will be released on February 12th, Spoken hadn't released an album since their self-titled in 2007. However, that time gap hasn't been all idol time, the band has been working on the album since 2010.

"We've always been a band that tours nonstop, and we live in three different states. Writing music is sometimes difficult with that equation. There's been a little time between records, but we've never slowed down as far as being a band. You can expect better songwriting on the new record. We approached this record differently than we have the other records. We did the new record with Jasen Rauch, (Brian HEAD Welch, Disciple, RED, and more)," said singer Matt Baird in a previous interview on here.

'Illusion' Cover
Spoken has always been a band that has varied in styles musically. Their first couple of albums were rap/metal reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, while their next few were more post hardcore before naturally maturing to a refined metal sound. Illusion takes the best of their previous formulas and infuses it with poppier hooks and catchier choruses.

Illusion kicks off with powerful guitars on "Stand Alone." The verses are yelled as Baird is forcing them through a controlled and synchronized scream to go with the music. The chorus then switches to more of a melodic section before he flips it back to screaming.

"Beneath the Surface" starts off very much like the first track; with dual guitars blazing and screaming vocals. Following the same formula as "Stand Alone," the chorus features sung vocals. There's a cool little underwater effect placed throughout the song that adds just the right amount of filter 'beneath the surface.'

The next track in "Don't Go." Heavy guitars open up, but the verses are more of an aggressive singing. The chorus is layered with strong melodies, "Close your eyes and remember me the way I was before...Just stay with me and we can weather the storm," powerful lyrics.

"Through it All All" is the first song on the album that switches gears and also their first single. It's a bit mid-tempo and has a nice blend of guitar work and what sounds like subtle piano or guitar. It positive with a message with the hook proclaiming, "Though our hearts have been broken, we've been burned by the flame/We will rise from the ashes again!"

"More Than You Know" showcases a poppier side of Spoken. The vocals are a bit whispery at times, and again are layered with fantastic harmonies. Overall it's just a solid song touching upon the subjects of self worth and self admittance.

Flowing perfectly from the last track, "Remember the Day" has a soft tone but a big feel. The recording itself has a grand quality, heavy guitars and booming vocals. Spoken does a superb job in capturing a "rock ballad" with this one.

Bang, que the noise, "Shadow Over Me" adds the jolt back into the album after the two-track lull. Adversely, this song is the first time where Baird screams over the chorus and sings the verse. The bridge into the drop out/outro is nicely done as well.

To sum up the song "Accuser" simply... it's heavy. Everything about the song is gut punchingly heavy and it's awesome, especially the metal breakdown part towards the end!

"Take Everything"is a track that could probably be another single because it has a very commercial sound, and a clear relatable focus. "My heart is yours for the taking," could be about a girl or in the case of Spoken's Christian roots, a reference to the forgiveness of God.

"Tonight" slows it back up and is about feeling alive and making a declaration of change and using one moment, 'Tonight,' to transform and "leave it all behind." A great message of encouragement in an easy package.

Next up is the softest track on the album, "Calm the Storm." Again, another powerful song with an inspirational chorus. "Be the hope when the world is crashing down/Come wrap your arms around me/Calm the storm inside me." The song is a cry out to God for his comforting touch to get through any situation.

The title track, "Illusion," finishes up the album with a burst of energy just like in the beginning. Back is the screaming, back is the harmonic melodies, and on come the gritty guitars. "Illusion" matches "Stand Alone" musically as it follows similar guitar patterns, and even starts the same with the faded in sound. The song ends with Baird's chanting as guitar feedback overcomes it.

Through and through, this album is a great welcome back for Spoken. The production is great, the vocals are on point, and the heaviness is brutal with some solid standard rock tracks sprinkled in. Illusion takes the listener through ups and downs as far as sonically, with bouts of heaviness, ballads, and midtempo coming in clusters. Spoken has certainly evolved through the years and with this latest transformation, they are going the right way.

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