When Bayless released the single “My Declaration” to radio earlier this year, they instantly made their mark as one of the most powerful rising voices in Christian rock. With their album Ready. Aim. they cement that status, complete with roaring riffs and the beautifully executed back-and-forth of Jared and Vanessa Bayless’s vocals.
The project’s production was supported by Justin Forshaw (As We Ascend), who brings a polished sound while still allowing the gritty guitar tones to shine. “Ready Aim” kicks the project off with raw energy that holds steady through the rest of the six songs, led by Vanessa’s clear vocals on the verses. The song itself aims to demolish the internal demons we struggle with: “I’m coming for you, darkness, to take back what you stole.” “My Declaration” feels fitting as an immediate follow-up, a song that is a declaration of faith in defiance of the darkness.
“Save the World” brings some industrial elements to Bayless’s sound, creating a texture alongside Jared’s voice that reminds of the best of 90s and 2000s alternative. The song is centered on the hope offered through the life and death of Jesus Christ, a good news message that saves the world. Justin Forshaw joins Bayless for a powerful guitar solo feature on “Game Over,” a song with an arresting blend of riffs and haunting synths.
“No More Suffering,” the most recent radio single from the project, has an instantly dark sound marked by strings and half whispered, half screamed vocals as a backdrop. The track achieves a cathartic, sweeping sound that reminds almost of the early days of Jeremy Camp’s work. The chorus sets hope poised in a balance against the reality of our current struggles: “one day there’ll be no more suffering, one day there’ll be rest for me, but not today.”
“Intermission” ends the mini-album with a symphonic rock sound, offering what feels like a cinematic conclusion.
With their absolutely masterful pairing of vocal tones and the ability to bring in symphonic and electronic elements without ever compromising the gritty heaviness, Bayless’s Ready. Aim. is easily the strongest release this year from an independent rock band. Beyond simply having all of the right elements in play, Jared and Vanessa (aided by an exceptional production team) execute those elements with polish and professionalism that could see them easily standing alongside the biggest rock releases this year. If you take a shot on only one band you haven’t heard of this year, Bayless should be a top contender.
Related Artists: Pillar, As We Ascend, Skillet