Dens have always found their mission in using music as a platform to creatively and honestly explore themes of faith, hope, redemption, and grace. In 2018 the band released their guitar-driven post-rock Facedown debut EP No Small Tempest and won the hearts of Facedown fans with their outstanding, singable choruses. Now the revelatory new album from Dens comes to grips with the current state of shattered communication and subjective truths. "Taming Tongues" explores how words can be life-giving or destructive, and emotions can be the salt of life or the fuel that gets thrown on a fire.
Dens' ability to walk the line between heavy and ambient is fortified on "Taming Tongues," with unforgettable vocal hooks and melodies that give the passionate message a solid place to land.
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What You Need To Know: Dens is a four-piece rock band, based in Richmond, Virginia, that seeks to find the overlap between energetic entertainment and contemplative reverence. The success of their last release, No Small Tempest EP, has made the band a fan-favorite with their record label, Facedown Records. Now, Dens is back with Taming Tongues, their new, second full-length album (their first full-length with Facedown Records). The track list spells out, "Even wise men are wise when they learn to keep quiet" (Proverbs 17:28). Dens has taken a very creative method, which uses each word as the main theme for the song they accompany. For example, the chorus in "Even" shouts, "It's not about getting even."
What it Sounds Like: Taming Tongues builds on the strengths ofthe No Small Tempest EP and introduces fresh new sounds and styles. Well-used musical transitions are commonplace, whether it be the intro, outro, or between verses and choruses. These instrumental gaps give appropriate time to digest the wisdom that Dens sings about--and prepares you for more. The chugging guitars and commanding drumming are accompanied by captivating vocals that soar from soft melodies to gritty screams.
Spiritual Highlights: Thanks to the fact that the track list is taken from scripture, finding spiritual highlights is not a difficult task. Each song offers wisdom and advice, in ways that I often found comparable to Proverbs and Psalms. "Even" has a line that says, "an eye for an eye leaves all the world blind"; this can be backed by Jesus' command to love our enemies instead of fighting back, in Matthew 5. "Foolish" has Leroy Hemp's (War of Ages) guest vocals screaming on the bridge, "even foolish men are wise when they learn to keep quiet," followed by a great instrumental piece. "Men" has a really neat poetic format in the chorus with which it contemplates the question, "what defines man?" It is followed by clever lyrical writing that suggests that man is defined by the tongue, hands, heart, and head. The album is full of this kind of proverbial wisdom and psalmic lyrical writing. The closing track needs to be mentioned for its particular difference. The intro to "Quiet" is piano-driven and melodic. The choir-based chorus is captivating. The music gets heavier as the song progresses, while these beautiful, eternal words are sung over and over:
"When You speak, the earth it quakes
When You speak, the fires rage
When all is quiet, there You are"
Best Song on the Record: Every song is expertly created in unique ways that differentiate each. They focus on different themes and aspects of the band's strengths, offering new experiences, sounds, and messages sent with each song. Picking a best song almost seems subjective. "When" would be my personal choice that offers a showcase of every strength on the album, from musically, vocally, and thematically. The verses are compelling. The chorus is heavy and gripping, screaming "Today if I'm honest, you must be asleep from what I see/So, now if you notice, this feels like eternity to me/Are you listening?" This reminds me of some of King David's great Psalms. The bridge offers a vulnerable perspective on feeling hopeless saying, "Thought I could have it all and leave a legacy/Maybe I got it wrong and it just ends with me." The ending of the song screams, "When will this end". Altogether, "When" is a masterpiece. Although it is not the most hopeful, it is very honest and relatable, and many times, that is just as encouraging as a hopeful song.
Final Word: If No Small Tempest EP caught your attention and you liked what you heard, Taming Tongues will solidify you as a life-long Dens fan. When Paul, in Colossians 3:23, told us whatever we do, do it with all our heart, Dens applied this to every single aspect of this album. You can hear each band member passionately pour their heart in every individual song, resulting in an excellent and captivating album. No matter where you are in life, Taming Tongues has at least one song written just for you. Facedown Records has an increasingly impressive roster growing. And, Dens deserves to be at the forefront thanks to Taming Tongues.