Sound — 9
You don't have to be a Christian to like The Letter Black's new album Hanging On By A Thread, but you do have to like Christian rock. Produced by Toby Wright (Korn, Alice in Chains), Hanging On By A Thread is loaded with scorching guitar driven tracks helmed by guitarists Mark Anthony and Terry Johnson with the battering drumming of Mat Slagle propelling their flares and the emotive lead vocals of Sarah Anthony injecting passion into tunes. Sarah's register has the cleaving grip of Flyleaf's Lacey Mosley with the molten resonance of Paramore's Hayley Williams. The searing intensity emanating from the guitar riffs of Believe blaze effectively around the husband and wife team of Mark and Sarah Anthony whose exchanges on lead vocals are moving. The tracks are a model of hardcore ridged melodic rock and maximize the burning chars in the guitar chords creating turbo-charged sensations tearing through the tracks from limb to limb. There is a hunger in Sarah's vocals thermo-blasting Perfect and gnawing at the brawny guitar swells which inflame the track's fumes to a staggering inferno. The soft, whispery violin intro of Best of Me is tethered to gently bowed acoustic guitar swirls as Sarah's vocals make a crisscrossing pattern through the intertwining lines. It is one of the lighter tracks on the album and gives the listener a reprieve from the wrath of howling roars in the guitar chords that cut a path of cavernous echoes through songs like Fire With Fire and the title track.
Lyrics — 8
Some lyrics externalize emotions like in Fire With Fire when Sarah shouts, It always has to be an eye for an eye. Other lyrics have a Christian slant like in Believe as Sarah reflects, Sometimes I feel like I'm alone / Hoping, praying you hear me / Screaming inside to ease the pain / Save me, keep me alive / I'm not afraid anymore of what I don't know / Believe / I put my faith in the unknown / Believe / I put my hope in God I love I know you're here / I can feel you now / I know your love embraces me. On the other hand sometimes the lyrics fall into the unforgiving like in Moving On with first pumping verses that externalize, You cut down everyone who ever stepped in your way/ I don't care about you / I don't care about you anymore.
Overall Impression — 9
The Letter Black shows similarities in their music to epic rock pioneers like Evanescence, Cold, and Lacuna Coil, but instead of running the genre into the ground, TLB's have expanded its breadth and renewed its life expediency. Hanging On By A Thread is tailored to gratify guitar rock enthusiasts, and the band does it beautifully. The Uniontown, Pennsylvania band formed in 2006 and released their debut album Breaking The Silence on Tooth & Nail Records. Their second album Hanging On By A Thread is a scorcher that crosses into the epic rock terrain and grazes melodic rock's perimeter. Raftered in stoic drum beats, bullish guitar riffs, and soaring vocals, The Letter Black is an unstoppable force worthy of being a part of the hardcore peerage.