Review Summary: Screw FFAF, this is the real deal. And no, there is no "Year 3000" on this album.
Fightstar are a band on a mission. Since they released their first album in 2005, they've been out to prove to the sceptics that they aren't Busted, and with this album they have finally done it. With their mix of midtempo melodic songs and crushing metallic tunes, they really are a force to be reckoned with.
One of the keys to their success on this album is the band's rhythm section. Unlike most bands in this genre, the bass is actually audible and it doesn't always follow the guitar lines, producing some wonderful moments (One Day Son) as well as keeping the band steady. The drums are, like the first album, sublime. In moments the beat is straightforward but toe-tappingly brilliant, then the next, they'll start blasting you with double bass fills. This is what gives the band it's dynamics, and what makes their tunes so goddamn catchy!
The vocals have improved greatly since the last album. Alex (guitarist and vocalist) no longer sounds as whiney as he did, and he provides some of the sweetest harmonies this side of a gospel choir. Charlie takes the lead on this album, and delivers a performance full of intensity and power. Whether he's crooning sweetly (You and I) or screaming his head off (Deathcar, Tannhauser Gate), he performs with aggression and passion, without going overboard and resorting to cheap gimmicks like death growls or pig squeals. This complements the guitars perfectly, as they rise and fall with the vocals, sometimes soaringly beautiful, sometimes crushingly beautiful. This band makes music that makes you mosh and swoon at the same time, and that is no mean feat. But the best part of this album is the fact that they feel like a unit. There are no jutting rhythmical changes or out of place vocals; everything feels in it's place.
However there are some low points to this album. There are a few filler tracks which detract from the overall feel of the album, making it less cohesive. They're not particularly bad, but they add nothing new (I Am The Message) and in the end, they make the album more of a chore to listen to. Also, the band's influences shine through, to the point where they seem derivative at times. "Deathcar" sounds like the Deftones covering an Envy song, “One Day Son” and “Floods” sound like Muse gone emo and "Amaze Us" just screams Rage Against The Machine. The band seem to sound at their best when they get heavy. “Deathcar” is a beast of a tune, despite it’s derivative nature, and “Tannhauser Gate” is the best song the band has done by a long way. It is comparable to a storm in the way that it hits you with it’s initial force, then lulls you into a false sense of security before battering you even harder at the end. It is unrelenting and beautiful; on a par with some of the best songs of the decade in this genre. However, songs like “Our Last Common Ancestor” drag on, without really going anywhere.
Overall though, this is a superb achievement by the band and it proves that British post-hardcore goes further than Funeral For a Friend. In fact, this may be the album that sees them leapfrog FFAF becoming Britain's best post-hardcore band.
Recommended tracks: “Tannhauser Gate”. “Deathcar” and “One Day Son”.