Album Review :
Solemn Vow - The American Dream

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Band: Solemn Vow

Title: The American Dream

Label: Wounded Records

Release Date: 2009

Review By: Scott L

Tracklisting:

  1. The Gates Of Hell Never Stood A Chance
  2. The Sound Of Courage
  3. Cheer Up Charlie, Give Me A Smile
  4. Legalism: The Fall Of Man
  5. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
  6. Our Daydreams Darken Into Nightmares
  7. Somebody’s Poisoned The Waterhole
  8. You’re Killin’ Me Smalls
  9. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain
  10. Wake Up Nemo, How Many Times Do I Have To Call You?
  11. Even The Darkest Night Brings Hope Of A New Dawn
  12. (Hidden Track)

Names are funny things. I myself was named after an astronaut and a famous writer. What exactly does that mean? Well, I’m not quite sure. But if you’re a student of the Bible, you’ll know that names had great meaning in antiquity. Names conveyed blessing, cursing, hope, and even despair. I consider the name Solemn Vow to be a mixed bag when it comes to meaning. At least when it comes to describing the feel of the band’s latest release. Vow? Who knows… so I’ll give them that half. But Solemn? I can see it meaning earnest… but serious or somber? Not so much. Because these guys, and gal, obviously have fun doing what they do and definitely don’t take themselves too seriously. And I can appreciate that. So don’t let the name conjure up the image of long faces and pious tones… because this CD is anything but.

Solemn Vow is a 4-piece out of Florence, Mississippi that plays a versatile style of “Mississippi metalcore” that calls to mind such bands as Means, Chasing Victory, and at times Ocean circa “The Tide”. Sometimes just straight up in your face brutal, other times more atmospheric. Now when I say that they don’t take themselves too seriously, I don’t mean that this is just a thoughtlessly thrown together patchwork type of album. What I do mean is that along with the intensity needed to make this CD great, is a noticeable attempt by the band to make the album fun. Fun metalcore? I know what you’re thinking. But bear with me. From the CD’s 59-second opening sample taken from one of the Lord of the Rings movies I’m guessing, to the Joker’s voice-over, to the redneck revival devil bashing, they just do a great job of mixing intensity with brief but enjoyable interlude.

Packaging is great, as it should be for a label release. My only real issue with the CD was a minor one. That was that the mix tended to bury the vocals at times. Particularly the clean vocals. Not all the time, but there were places where it was very noticeable. This could, of course have been a matter of preference, and for the most part everything still came through nicely.

Lyrically, Solemn Vow tells it like it is. They’re not afraid to paint the bleakness of real life, because with the next brush stroke they offer real answers. Faith in Christ and a willingness to lay down your life to and for Him is the foundation upon which the messages of this album are built. Consider the song “The Sound Of Courage” which says, “hope is not an illusion / hope is all he has to live for / as the dead pile up around him / he rises above the ashes / and sees the breaking of dawn / the strong never survive / only the weak prevail / for it is in their hearts that the sound of courage is found / Father forgive me / for my indecision / they’re aiming for me and my dead heart / weakness has broken me / and fear is my undoing / for fate has brought me here / and fear has killed me / my Savior please lift me up”. Or how about “Cheer Up Charlie, Give Me A Smile” which says, “with every breath I take / screaming your name from the other side of heaven / these lungs were made to praise you / the harmony is never ending / the song never ceasing / every breath another word of honor / come get some / to love completely / to give all I am / even when crawling through the flames / this life is brighter than it seems / to be held in the palm of the Savior / though we don’t comprehend / we rest safe in you”.

The standout track on this release was “Wake Up Nemo, How Many Times Do I Have To Call You?”. While plenty of other tracks shined in their own right, none came close to this one. If I had to choose a runner up, it would be “Legalism: The Fall Of Man” which was just a really fun song to listen to and really epitomized my early statements about the band having fun. These are two songs that you just really need to hear for yourself.

Overall: Solemn Vow’s “The American Dream” is a great release. It packs a punch and offers enough diversity to appeal to even the most discriminating of metalcore devotees. So plug it in, turn it up, and let it go.

www.myspace.com/solemnvow

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