Sound — 9
Flyleaf has an interesting sound for sure. They have a dark and heavy sound with the softer edge that a female front-man inevitable brings. You can say what you will about some band somewhere in this vast world somehow getting past the girl lead singer vibe, but in most normal situations, there is always a certain sound that a female singer brings. As stated before, Flyleaf is no exception to the rule. The one exception is that they truly rock and their sound really works well with the girl singer vibe going on. Flyleaf impressed me from the get go when they released their first major album. They had a great rock sound. The guitarists wrote great parts with an emphasis on good riffs and songwriting rather than shredding. The bass and the drums provided a solid rhythm section, although neither really went out of their way to impress anybody (aside from the gloomy bass intro in the opening track). Lacey had an interesting voice that suited the music. Much of that sound is still quite intact in this album, but it sounds more mature. The guitarists write some good riffs and seem more tasteful in their selection of tones, effects, and playing. There is no real soloing, but they have great hooks. The bass and drums are still the solid but not spectacular rhythm section, although the drummer does seem to have written more skilled parts. Lacey seems to have acquired more control over her voice, but there is less screaming. I find this a favorable change as her screaming is not so appealing although it sounds good when used sparingly. The one thing I find missing is a great closing track for the album. The ending track is a good song, but it doesn't quite have the punch that 'So I Thought' had on the last album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are actually telling a story that is centered around two armies and their struggles as the liner notes make quite apparent. This story can be taken metaphorically about the struggles of Christians against their opposition. If you are offended by religious themes in lyrics, you will probably not like these lyrics. Some of them can be taken metaphorically, but they are largely Christian without any mistake. Songs such as 'Beautiful Bride' speaks of believers being the body of Christ and how they shouldn't be so divided as they are now. In "The Kind" you hear someone lament over giving into greed and selfish desires and consider their shortcomings a sin. There is also a direct reference to a Bible verse applicable to the subject of the song. Another song is a clear plea to Jesus. You have been warned if you find such subject matter offensive or irrelevant. On a different note, I actually like the lyrics. They are clear and unmistakable in the message, but they have this thing missing in Christian music called creativity. I am a Christian and enjoy Christian music, but I don't want to hear "I was lost. You found me. You gave me a purpose" written to a rock song. Such is not the case with Flyleaf and to hear words like "I've been looking in your window. I've been dressing in your clothes. I've been walking dead, watching you long enough to know I can't go on." showcase that they have some skill in penning lyrics that are deep yet convey a clear message. As far as the singing goes, you love it or hate it. I rather like the singing and think that Lacey's voice compliments the music. Her voice is dynamic and goes from a mournful and passionate high voice to a soft and sensitive quiet voice to a chilling whisper. There is still some screaming on the album, but it is toned down. I think this is a good thing as she doesn't handle it so well and still needs to work on it. She also had a tendency to place screams in odd places in the previous album, but this has been rectified. It's solid effort all around.
Overall Impression — 9
I can't really say who they sound like. I'm sure they sound like some other people out there, but they handle their sound in a way that is unique and interesting. I rather enjoy 'Beautiful Bride', 'Chasm', 'This Close', 'Swept Away', and 'Treasure'. Those are my favorite tracks, but I enjoy all of the album. I don't hate anything, but I wish that the ending track had more punch to it. I would definitely get the album again if I lost it.