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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Silent Screams

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
Silent Screams
Sounds like … the gothic pop-metal and rock of Evanescence, Plumb, and Fireflight, with nods to Rebecca St. James, Pat Benatar, and Sarah McLachlan, and assistance from the Pillar crewAt a glance … the songwriting and vocal stylings still need work on Silent Screams, but Éowyn shows significant improvement from her pervious albumTrack Listing Crashing Life To My Surprise Silent Screams Runaway Unfinished Memories Hands of Time Significant Saving Grace Goodbye

Music criticism requires honesty for the sake of music lovers and artists alike, and sometimes the truth is hard to take (and express). As much as I like the idea of an edgy Christian rock chick like Éowyn, her 2006 release Identity just wasn't very good. But she has since persevered, developed her craft, and worked toward a better album.

The improved sound is noticeable from the get go on Silent Screams, thanks in no small part to the Pillar people. Their longtime producer Travis Wyrick brings loads of hard rock cred to Éowyn's music—"Hands of Time" even flirts with industrial through its intense programming and loops. Whereas Identity sounded thin and wispy, Silent Screams is muscular and defined, and frankly more successful than Fireflight at capturing the gothic pop-metal of Evanescence and Plumb. Pillar frontman Rob Beckley also brings his songwriting and vocals to the metal-flavored title track, but it's the songs composed with guitarist Noah Henson that are most impressive, particularly the powerhouse chord progression in the chorus of "Saving Grace."

Silent Screams still falters in two key areas. Éowyn clearly possesses a good rock vocal, at times recalling a young Pat Benatar ("Runaway") or an edgier Rebecca St. James ("Hands of Time"), and equally capable of the passion and tenderness of Sarah McLachlan or Amy Lee in a ballad like "Unfinished Memories." The problem is that Éowyn buries that voice much too often with little whines and gasps. Some of that is expected with the style, but a little goes a long way to sound dramatic or fragile. In some songs, it's used in every vocal phrase, and that becomes distracting and annoying.

The other shortcoming is the songwriting. Though Éowyn passionately wants those trapped by fear, loneliness, and depression to cry out to Jesus for comfort, she does so with all too familiar lyrics derivative of better songs—"Crashing" with its hanging-by-a-thread plea for help, "Life" about finding beauty amid hardships, and "Significant" in finding worth through Jesus instead of cutting. All heartfelt and well-intentioned messages, but all expressed before in very similar ways. Éowyn needs to bring more personality and distinctiveness to her words, relating her own experiences or the stories of other girls she's ministered to. Silent Screams has its flaws, but the upside is that it shows Éowyn heading in the right direction to find her artistic identity.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.