Sent by Ravens - Our Graceful Words

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Artist: Sent by Ravens
Album: Our Graceful Words
Label: Tooth & Nail
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. New Fire
  2. An Honest Heart
  3. I Hear Her Breathe
  4. Beautiful List
  5. Trailer vs. Tornado
  6. Jack and Jill
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Salt and the Light
  9. This Awakening
  10. Stone Soup
  11. True Bride

Debut albums can be a tricky thing to anticipate. For the most part, they are like a greatest hits album of sorts for bands that have been around for a little while. Some bands never release an album as strong as their debut, especially if they have huge commercial success with it, and struggle to live in its shadow. Other debut albums show a band trying to discover who they are and what sound they want to pursue as they show off their potential for the future. If I were to try and peg Sent by Ravens’ debut album, Our Graceful Words, I’d say they’ll likely fall into the latter category. Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, but this album is a collection of past songs from a previous EP, addictive tunes that could be hit singles, and some tracks that don’t hold up as well and end up as filler. The bottom line is Sent by Ravens is a band oozing with potential and their deft talent at their respective instruments propel this album to be one worth owning for any fan of hard rock.

Having the first single start off the album was a very wise decision. ‘New Fire’ is one of the best tracks and it features many of the components you’ll hear throughout Our Graceful Words. The dual guitars are heavy and direct the song, often coming to the forefront in the chorus, and the vocal hooks immediately stick in your head. There is even a dose of solid screaming during the bridge that fits surprisingly well and shows the variety of sounds the band can cover. Zach’s voice has a strong range reminiscent of vocalists like Jon Sumrall (Kutless) and, to a lesser extent, TJ Harris of Fighting Instinct/Decyfer Down. In the closing track, ‘True Bride’, the vocal hook in the chorus is so insanely catchy due to his range that it stays in my head for hours after hearing it. He also does a good job of changing his vocal delivery often and that’s most evident on ‘This Awakening’ where you get a kaleidoscope of different vocal styles.

Sometimes as you listen to this album you won’t know what to make of Sent by Ravens. The lyrics are very spiritually focused and uplifting with some songs that could even be considered heavy worship, like ‘An Honest Heart’. Then it’ll have a section in it where you may think another song came on as it transitions briefly with a metalcore vibe before going back to the worship sound. Honestly, I enjoyed the heavier parts thrown into a lot of these tracks since they blend the sound seamlessly and keep the listener attentive. It’s when they went with straight up rock tunes that they lost me. If anything, that might be due to the fact the heavier tracks stand out so well and the typical rock ones pale in comparison. Luckily, those are few and far between.

Overall: Sent by Ravens have created a truly catchy debut album while showing potential for the future. Need lyrical depth? They got it. Want infectious vocal hooks and explosive guitars? No problem. Could you use some heavier worship tunes that stray far from generic contemporary music? You’re in luck. Looking for something completely original and off-the-wall? Look elsewhere. Our Graceful Words will fit right in with any hard rock fan’s collection and steal away a few spins from their latest favorites in the process. What this debut may lack in total originality, it more than makes up for in sheer entertainment as you headbang along with the riffs or attempt to belt out the chorus along with Zach. Some albums are just meant to be enjoyed rather than analyzed through a microscope.

Gems of this album are: ‘New Fire’, ‘I Hear Her Breathe’, ‘This Awakening’, ‘True Bride’

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