I really want to hate this, but I can't. Christian metalcore with touches of emo – this album came with three strikes against it. Yet somehow it's making it to first base because the catcher dropped the ball (me, perhaps)? The batter made an out, but there he is, standing on first. Behind him, some guy's holding up a John 3:16 sign. Play ball, the ump says.
Why does Sending You Strength slip past my defenses? Quite simply, the songs are strong. They're efficient and catchy. Listen to this album more than once, and you'll find yourself anticipating its transitions. The songs are pretty much perfect. Intros grab your attention, riffs skillfully spike and surge, transitions keep things moving, and outros make three-minute songs seem epic. The production is clean, clear, and heavy. Technically, this album is flawless.
As for its "intangibles," let's dissect them. "Christian" – actually, you wouldn't know it from the lyrics. The songs are about sticking together, staying strong, and not giving up, which are all staples of hardcore punk. Means is on Facedown; that's the only giveaway. Without any explicit mentions of God or Jesus, the lyrics invite listeners to make their own interpretations.
"Metalcore" – sure, this isn't the most original style around. But, again, the songs are good, and thankfully, they don't rip off At the Gates. "Emo" – what should sink the ship in fact makes it float. There are screamed vocals and clean singing, but they don't come off like the good cop/bad cop business that's overrun metalcore. Instead, they're natural and actually "emotional." Think Comeback Kid, not Killswitch Engage. Not only does this band mean what it says, its music matches. Try not to sing along to "The Promise" or "Cadences"; it's damn near impossible. Those willing to drop all – and I mean all – prejudices will discover an undeniably well-crafted album here.