The welcome voice of bassist/singer Chad Atkinson singing a cappella at the introduction of “The Safety of Routine” gives The Silent Game an undeniably powerful start. Atkinson’s vocals are so confident and adult that it’s hard to believe that he, along with the other members of Name Taken (drummer Bret Meisenbach and guitarists Ryan Edwards and Blake Means), were mere teenagers when they created the EP.
This trend of youthful maturity continues with “For Sunday” in which Edwards and Means shine. Ignoring the uninspired power chord conventions of their scene they chase each other across their respective fretboards forming tightly woven patterns to set the dark mood of lyrics such as ‘And God why do I blame them? / I’m begging you to forgive me.’ During the breakdown the guitar duo alternate riffs from the left speaker to the right culminating with a frenzied message from Chad made all the more urgent by the fast paced rhythm courtesy of Meisenbach. If Chad’s striking vocals in “The Safety of Routine” are the initial draw, the instrumentation on “For Sunday” is what leaves the listener begging for more.
Following are “New Song” and “The Stupid Chad,” which have a more upbeat sound than “The Safety of Routine” and “For Sunday,” so they lack the desperation introduced by the first two tracks and continued by “Waiting.” Although Name Taken succeed in writing pop-rock comparable to the top bands of the genre, they’re best when brooding – the first two tracks of the EP stand tall above the rest.
“Feeling Sorry” is the only real low point of the EP due to the acoustic electric guitar used in the song. It has a grating quality that works to hinder Atkinson’s voice rather than enhance it. The poor quality of the instrument is so irksome, continuous listens only further warrant use of the ‘skip’ button on the final track.
Even with less than stellar label promotion throughout their career and a self-imposed hiatus to further their education, the members of Name Taken have built a loyal fan base always on call to receive new material from the band. And it’s no wonder after delving into The Silent Game – the EP is evidence of young and ambitious musicians who choose to bypass flash in favor of talent.