Means - Sending You Strength (Cover Artwork)


Sending You Strength (2007)


Metalcore is a genre that, time and time again, dozens of new young bands, who seem to appear from thin air, try to come up and innovate. What happens more often than not is that those bands fade away just as they came, after only releasing a shitty-to-mediocre record that sounds like everything we've already heard before, attracting only those who are either half their age, or friends of friends' girlfriends. It is, quite simply, a punk subgenre that is going nowhere.

So, picture in your mind what a band would sound like if I said the following sentence to you: "Melodic metalcore with fairly heavy emo influence, signed to Christian alternative music label, Facedown Records."

Yeah. That is a lot to swallow (and this is coming from a guy who thought Blessed by a Broken Heart was somewhat listenable at one point), but it's not hard to picture because we all know the formula. Chances are, you'll think of something that sounds like Misery Signals, or Evergreen Terrace, or Rosesdead (in which they sound exactly alike, top to bottom) or maybe even Still Remains. While, in my opinion, none of those are necessarily bad bands (Rosesdead released one of my favorite heavy albums with Stages), Means sounds exactly, exactly, exactly like every single one of them in one big, giant mixture of swoop haircuts and old-school tattoos.

The vocals are growled by one guy, sung beautifully by another. The guitars go from pretty and atmospheric to slow, thundering breakdowns. The drums, for the most part, maintain a simple punk beat, but go back and forth to more diverse time signatures. Each one of these qualities are put into practice in every song on the record. I'm sure creating this kind of music takes brains, and there is so much talent, intensity, and potential in this band, but it is, simply put, wasted on weak hardcore clichés that we've all grown tired of. There is no innovation here at all, only very obvious influences.

There is not a single song on this record that stands out to me in the slightest (except maybe "Connected", in which they sing/scream the album title over and over again, teaching me only to skip the track every time I put the album on). Other than the really annoying singing that comes into play way too often to allow the tracks to take off, Means aren't a "bad" band. I mean, if you're into this whole new-school hardcore scene, you'll probably love this, but for those of us who've already loved and gotten over albums like Burned Alive by Time, The Opposite of December, Jhazmyne's Lullaby, or even 10.21 years ago, I really don't think we have much reason to take an interest in Means.

In my opinion, Stages is the last great "melodic metalcore" album that will come out for a very long time, and I am perfectly okay with that.