REVIEW: SENT BY RAVENS – MEAN WHAT YOU SAY (2012)
Sometimes there’s a place for rock record that’s simply just fun to listen to. Enter Tooth and Nail Records’ Sent By Ravens, from South Carolina. Tooth and Nail has a history of breaking bands to the masses, some examples being Anberlin, Mae, and Underoath. Sent By Ravens appears poised to do the same. Not only do they craft a mean rock record, but they create one with substance.
The title of this, their sophomore record inherently implies an angst-ridden tone. Their first record, Our Graceful Words was simply the band getting their (and our) feet wet for what was to come. Singles like “New Fire,” “Beautiful List” and “Trailers vs. Tornadoes” pumped up Christian rock radio listeners across America, but this guy thought they were on the cusp of something big, not quite tapping into it with these singles, arguably the strongest tracks on the first record. Thematically, their first record was more about the positive effect of words, leading into this record – a somewhat foreboding warning of the impact of what our words can do to others.
The short, fast-paced “Prudence” exhorts listeners to mean what they say amidst a euphoric, hopeful mood. “Even if the long road takes us home, tomorrow’s a new day!” they proclaim. “Listen” hearkens to the first record, warning that “your words won’t always be graceful.” The title track gets your adrenaline going with the constant background distorted background guitar. “We’re All Liars” is another highlight, and has simply put together, yet well-shot music video to go along with it (see lyric video below, or watch the official music video at AltPress).
“Never Enough” brings a moment of solitude to the record, bringing to the table a power ballad that while seemingly obligatory for any band in Sent By Ravens’ genre, doesn’t feel entirely forced. First single “Learn From the Night” brings a positive message in a form that begins in a slightly subdued, xylophone backed verse building to the songs pinnacle soaring guitar riff in the bridge. “Best in Me” brings the record to a close in a somewhat cliche way, being the longest track on the record. It is an oldie recycled from their independent EP, but this tactic has worked before – Anberlin recycled “Feel Good Drag” from Never Take Friendship Personal, re-recording it for their Universal Records debut New Surrender. The new rendition ended up being one of the top alternative rock songs of the year. “Best in Me” carries the quality that justifies giving it exposure to a larger audience that Tooth and Nail Records can help with.
The main downside to the record is its length. Mean What You Say clocks in at scarcely over a half hour. Some will not like the fact that a measly 10 tracks are present. This is one fun half hour however, and should translate well into a live setting. These 10 tracks embody the less-is-more adage – one can listen to the record straight through without getting bored. If it were any longer, Mean What You Say would run the risk of being reduced to a group of sound bites for different playlists by a lot of fans. Now, Sent By Ravens needs some high profile tours to back them up – their exposure thus far hasn’t fully done their sound justice. This spring, they will be the direct support to Tooth and Nail and Christian heavy/alternative veterans Project 86. The mission-minded band Willet and Righteous Vendetta, a hardcore band, will support the tour. This tour will hit primarily Eastern US markets, and Sent By Ravens will also be hitting the festival circuit this summer.