Release DetailsLABEL Facedown Records
RELEASED ON 3/6/2007
Sending You Strength
posted on 5/2007 By:
This was difficult getting underway because for the first time in a long time, I’ve encountered a ‘core-based album that didn’t throw its flaws in my face at a higher ratio than the good qualities. For following a very familiar style of current melodic hardcore, Regina, Canada’s Means have put together a really enjoyable collection of songs on Sending You Strength. After months and months of mediocrity, it was great to hear an album of this nature that made me want to listen to it past the normal reviewing incubation period, and I found none of it to be annoying even though the band does adhere rather strictly to the genre.
There’s a respectable balance between dissonant alt’ rock with reverb-laden cleaner guitars, hefty metallic staccato crunch, with shout along bridges and sub-choruses that are more about purpose than flexing muscle just for the sake of it. It sounds natural, unforced, as if these guys are music fans first, and musicians second, and are playing the kind of music they themselves wish to hear rather than trying to fit into every possible nook and cranny of appeal for the masses. The songs have a rough dynamic edge to them in some instances such as “The Promise”, “Connected”, and “Down To The Spark”, where harmony and smooth melodic flow align with equal amounts of chunky, thunderous riffs, but there were many times while listening to this when I wished leads had played a more prevalent role. That really could have made this album something special, and a few sections just ached for some soloing.
Means do a whole lot right, and very little to be overly critical of. The middle-ranged vocals in particular, although following a common harsh/clean pattern, are performed very well and don’t sound strained or whiny on either end, and are arranged in a way that really compliments the songwriting. There are no belches or grunts, no painfully out of tune falsettos, just gutsy, sincere sounding vocals that didn’t push a point too far, but a slight variation in force and tone would have made for an even more interesting experience. The music itself has elements of harder alternative rock, aggressive European metalcore, and an occasional pop sense of hook and rhythm, which somehow works really well where normally it makes a band sound saccharine sweet and clumsy. The tones are crisp, the production is excellent, and nothing is overdone in the mix.
What I did eventually find a little disappointing was the similarity in pacing of most of these songs, most of them being interchangeable after numerous listens. They put a lot of thought into putting together strong riffs and solid vocals, but didn’t offer much by way of variety in the end. Means write songs older fans of the scene can appreciate because there’s no abundance of irony or angst over substance and skill, it’s mature without losing passion, and still packs a heavy punch when necessary. If Chimaira had tried for a more widespread sound on their new album, it might have sounded very much like Sending You Strength.
This definitely wasn’t torture to listen to, even if the pinpoint words to describe it escape me. Sending You Strength just has that little extra something going on personality-wise that sets it above the norm from a songwriting standpoint. It isn’t stale and boring, and Means put obvious effort into each and every track of mid-paced melodic hardcore here. They’re simply a very good band who I’m confident can expand their sound in a number of different directions and still be successful. This isn’t a perfect album, or even exceptional for the style, but Means are promising, above average songwriters who have the gifts to take their sound further if they so choose. I was really impressed.
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