Ever since its start in 1993, Tooth & Nail Records has been a reliable source of some of the greatest signings of bands rock music has to offer; while some bands have been better than others, any band in a T&N contract already has at least a little initial credibility, and with this in mind, the recently-signed quintet Sent By Ravens had high expectations to meet. Fortunately for us, their full-length debut album Our Graceful Words is far from a disappointment.
The genre Our Graceful Words majors in is heavy rock, and all the essential components that should accompany the sound are present. With well-conceived dual-guitar riffs and driving beats, Sent By Ravens can rock hard and with style. Zach Riner's vocals are a large standout of SBR's sound, as well; with an impressive range to boot and occasional well-placed screams, they more than complete each song. Many Tooth & Nail artists can sometimes lack in lyrical depth, but this is a pitfall the band succeeds in avoiding. Mentions of God by name are plentiful and intelligent, thoughtful musings of spiritual depth are never in short supply. "New Fire" describes the importance of family and faith ("a new fire lit in you/a new fire it circles this room/and may you never be afraid of your faith"), while "Salt And Light" is a near straight-up worship song ("you come in love/'cause love is all we need/I came here with nothing, but I left with everything/and the truth You bring/and came here with nothing/but left with everything"). It's this lyrical maturity and sophistication that makes Sent By Ravens a real joy to hear; the musical intensity is stabilized perfectly with deep lyrics to match.
With credits from producing connoisseur Aaron Sprinkle and Emery guitarist Matt Carter, Sent By Ravens legitimately stands out on their own, but there's obvious influences from other past and present Tooth & Nail bands throughout the record. This leads to the main downside to Our Graceful Words: a real lack of innovation behind the music. To be fair, there's nothing visibly inferior about the sound that SBR brings, and what they do, they do well, but it's indeed a little hard to call their album highly inventive. It's the sort of debut record that leaves a lot of room for improvement, but not without hope of a grand second outing in the near future. T&N enthusiasts will feel right at home with this record, but anyone looking for an especially groundbreaking approach to heavier rock isn't going to find it here. There's also the inherent problem of the tracks running together a bit here and there, but repeat listens tend to lessen that issue more and more over time.
Our Graceful Words is by and large one of the best debuts so far this year and one that will undoubtedly keep listeners coming back for more. While it isn't perfect by any means, it's more than a great starting point for what we can hope to be a fruitful career for Sent By Ravens, and one no rock fan will want to miss.- Review date: 4/13/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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