For followers of any band, six years without a new record can feel as long as a permanent hiatus. That was the amount of time the Christian rock group Spoken kept fans waiting between their self-titled 2007 release and their 2013 come back Illusion. And what a come back it was.
Since September sees the release of Spoken’s ninth studio album I decided to collaborate with a good friend of mine to write up a review of our favourite Spoken record, Illusion.
Lucas: I’m always the first to say that a lot of great music has been made by Christians, but when it comes to traditional rock I’m sometimes left at a standstill, which makes a band like Spoken that much more exciting. On Illusion, they brought to the table everything that made them unique. The excellent songwriting paired with Matt Baird’s smooth yet aggressive vocals creates a combination unrivalled by their contemporaries.
Mitchell: Most Hardcore albums seem to vary whether good or bad, but I think that illusion was a masterpiece of hardcore music. Just the start blew me away with “Stand Alone.” Instantly you have screaming at its highest note. A brilliant use of it for a song with meaning towards letting go. I do feel that “Beneath the Surface” was a bit of a “stand alone” song (Pun intended). It just didn’t seem to fit the album as it should have. Many will disagree though saying that the next song “Don’t Go” was the stray of the album.
Lucas: While the first three tracks establish the album’s sound and direction well enough, it isn’t until track four, “Through It All,” that the album really takes off. From here on Illusion is a near flawless culmination of hard work and dedication. The aforementioned “Through It All” is a soaring anthem of perseverance and triumph while “More Than You Know” and “Remember The Day” both feature beautifully introspective and encouraging lyrics carried by some surprisingly complex musicianship.
Mitchell: “Through It All” is probably the biggest song of the album leaving the most remembrance. Lots of talk saying the song is slightly similar to Linkin Park, but I don’t get that vibe here. It feels that Spoken did a good job throughout the whole album. Its originality made it one of the main reasons for being one of my favourite albums of all time.
Lucas: What Illusion does so well is that it effortlessly marries the aggressive, alt-metal side of Spoken’s sound with utterly breathtaking melodies. This sing-scream contrast often has the problem of diluting the momentum built before it, but for the most part, it’s difficult to point out that fault here. It works so well, especially on the closing title track. For sake of criticism, the opening numbers do come across as more of a set up than a stand-alone set of songs and the melody of “Accuser” is too simple and easy compared to the surrounding songs. Outside of those tidbits, however, Illusion is a gold standard of Christian rock.
Mitchell: But don’t think that hardcore is all that circles the album. They also do a fine job with some ballads. “Rememeber the Day” being favorite of the album. It may be soft, but the song was so original it stood out from your typical poppy rock song from artists like Jeremy Camp (Sorry Jeremy). “Take Everything” was another one of those songs with powerful lyrics telling God to take everything from us just to be with Him. To finish the album they hit us with the title track which was my pick for the whole album. The song flowed with melody and screamed vocals the whole way through. In the end, this album didn’t seem to hit the mark for many people, and I agree the album could have been better, but as a whole, it astounded me, especially with the fact of Matt Baird’s returning after 6 years of absence. It just proves these guys have still got it.
Lucas’s Score: 4/5
Mitchell’s Score: 4.5/5
Link to Mitchell’s site here