After the last album, a self-titled release back in 2007 which for me was a bit of a mis step in their musical career, they have returned with a much stronger attempt. “Illusion” is a album that fuses great melody with solid hardcore / hardrock.
The album comes in with the driving beat fuelled “stand alone” which is a great introduction to the album and sets the foundation nicely of what one can expect throughout. The vocals stand out an are a notable improvement over previous Spoken albums, and Matt Baird, the only remaining original member is able to mix aggression with clean vocal changes throughout with effortless energy. From the start the album hurtles you into a aggression fuel rock extravaganza.
This is a solid riff rock album even though there are some generic qualities to it, it’s like I have heard this before. The sea bands are increase, and to separate the good ones from the bad are getting harder, and the genre’s are bleeding into one another making it so much harder to identify where exactly where some bands fit now days, like the post-hardcore scene and some of their ridiculous band names I find that the genre’s are somewhat becoming the same. This is a solid rock album to put it plain and simple. Its safe, and clean. They have not tried to overdo it, nor have they tried to risk it.
Stand out qualities are Matt Baird distinctive vocal characteristics which help sell the songs over all. Its beds itself with you the more you listen to it, it takes time to savor its quality. This album has both a hard side, and a soft side to it, and somewhere in the middle it works. Its also commercially acceptable without the full embrace. Songs like, “Stand alone” are brutal and heavy. “Beneath the Surface” boils hard with its aggressive vocal inferno, and riffs play out hard. There are some signature Spoken moments that draw you back to past exploits in the track, whilst “Beneath the Surface” stylistically falls along the same lines as “I Stand Alone.” “Don’t Go” starts on a awkward note as Matt’s vocals blast in strained and uneven. I do have to say I prefer Matt when his vocals are melodic, a lot better quality resonates out of him in those moments that steps up his vocal strength for me. Though his gruff vocals to bring a fierce beast to the fore, creating an aggressive assault on the ears that grows on you the more you listen to the album.
“Through it All” – oozes the dna of past Spoken exploits. Also its musical atmosphere is one built for commercial radio, and would see some fans of the harder side of the band cringe at the fact of this. Its a rather good song, and the fact they could find commercial success from it if they do, well great for them, and I pray this song will hold them true in the commercial sense. “More than you know” continues the softer , radio friendly edge of Spoken, and again they are quite good at this, and shows the musical scope and reach of the album , and the applaud-able skill set of the entire band that powers continually throughout with mostly an effortless feel. “Shadow over Me” has a strong driving momentum that brings a lovely aggression and pace to the album. The drums are strong and un-cluttered, enhancing the overall strength of the song. Guitars are punchy and along with the aggressive gruff vocals burn this down as one of my favourite tracks on the album. A number that should go down well at a live venue. That aggressive assault is married with “Accuser” another great song that shows off Spoken’s heavier side. “Take Everything”, “Tonight” and “Calm the Storm” are all great anthemic rock assaults that show case the band as a arena rock outfit.
“Illusion,” the last track and title track of the album, pulverizes with a super aggressive attack from the start, what a great song to finish the album with. Its one of the heaviest songs on the album, and for my its like saving the best for last. It finishes the album of well, and again enhances the over strength of the album. Song placement is a vital part of an albums success, and here the songs flow nicely into each other, making this one of the best listens in terms of track arrangements I have listened to in a while.
This is a great comeback album. It throws solid punches rarely missing the mark. The album is to be savored over numerous listens before you make up your mind, as each listen brings a new order of reflection that enhances the splendor and satisfaction of how a great album this really is. Though there are traces of dna moments of vintage Spoken throughout the album, there are enough newer and fresher qualities to this album to poise it as a significant progression from their last outing, allowing it to gobble up new ground with a new pair of boots. It’s been worth the wait!
For fans of: Thousand Foot Krutch
Matt Baird – vocals (1996 – present)
Oliver Crumpton – drums (2007 – present)
Ryan Pei – bass guitar (2011 – present)
01. Stand Alone
02. Beneath the Surface
03. Don’t Go
04. Through it All
05. More Than You Know
06. Remember the Day
07. Shadow Over Me
09. Take Everything
11. Calm the Storm
On Your Feet 
…What Remains 
Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell 
A Moment of Imperfect Clarity 
Last Chance to Breathe 
Record Label: eOne Music, Feb. 2013