To sum up The Fall of Troy's general approach, imagine mixing the technical abilities of Hot Cross, speeding it up with only one guitarist (who also happens to be the singer), and adding the catchiness of a band like Thrice or Underoath. The first manifestation of this exciting mixture was their self-titled 2003 Lujo Records release, which was so impressive that it enabled the band to sign to the Albany-based Equal Vision Records. So impressive that I listened to the album every night while doing music theory worksheets for two or three straight weeks. I was maxing out my crappy iPod headphones and hurting my ears and pissing off everybody else in the library with my hushed humming and finger-tap drumming on the table I was working at. I was having the time of my life while doing homework. The Fall of Troy seemed to be such a perfect synthesis of technical proficiency and attention snaring moments that I couldn't stop listening. As a guitarist I was baffled by the originality and speed of the lines that guitarist Tom Serak wrote, and had to clean up a grapefruit sized semen stain from my favorite pair of boxers when I learned that he plays all the guitar parts live using a loop pedal and sings for the band as well. This threw Claudio from Coheed and Cambria out the window in terms of ability to sing and shred at the same time. Other than my technical perceptions blown out the window, the music was just plain fun. I was amazed that among the instrumental bombast, they could pull off reasonable and catchy songs. They all were bursting with killer, memorable etudes. The songs didn't rely too heavily on the ideas of death and doom and livejournals like many similar post-hardcore bands and weren't all in minor keys either. The Fall of Troy seemed to eclipse any band alleged to be post-hardcore and didn't seem to be slowing down with their incredibly impressive Ghostship Demos (Part 4 being the height of the band's collection).
So where did they go wrong? It had little to do with signing to Equal Vision. EVR has a record of putting out great CDs from a diverse range of bands (think Bear vs. Shark, Coheed and Cambria, and Bane all on the same label), However, signing to Equal Vision allowed the band production value and some time, which was a fatal duo for guitarist Tom Serak, who felt that their self-titled CD was riddled with inaccuracies and playing errors. To make amends they redid 4 songs for Doppelganger with tighter playing and more attention to effects and other details like that. The end result? Only 7 new songs, that reflect a spazzier, more chaotic mindset, and 4 old songs that abandon what I loved about their style: it was muddled with goofy effects and affected playing instead of the beautifully human mistakes amidst the unbelievable technicality and the straight forward mixing that emphasized the melodic content instead of the textural content. If you band is the ideal mix of technicality and catchiness, why gizmo around with different stuff? It ends up killing the songs. There's a part on the redo of "Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles" that sounds like a flute is playing. When relistening to the original, it was a crazy guitar solo that has been abandoned for some weird effect. In my book that is rather uncool. Effects are used poorly on these redo tracks. It almost makes me wonder what the 7 new songs would sound like without this oddball tainting. Oh ya, many were on the Ghostship Demos, and they ruled despite a lower production value. Somebody should keep The Fall of Troy away from Underoath's imprudent foray into electronic sounds mixed with pop punk melodies. It's destructive to any band like The Fall of Troy where the focus is on songwriting and instrumentation and not gadgets.
Now that I have fully voiced my discontent with the production, I can focus on the new songs. The self-titled album mixed slower paced moments with faster ones. This start-stop dynamic is pretty standard fare for a band in a post-hardcore related genre, as that is one of the defining qualities of the genre, but this album shows a different take on that idea. The songs are so fast that a "stop" moment is really a moment when only one instrument is playing, though often recklessly quickly. The "stop" moments are just breaks in the flurry of instruments that define the band's primary mode. This primary mode, instead of being very melodic and pretty in its speed, is much more chaotic and shows influences from the world of grind. There are many more chromaticisms and harmonic minor keys in the music that didn't exist on the self-titled, which can be considered "experimentation" or "expansion" by some, but come across as distasteful. The older Fall of Troy focused on finding a great melodic content within the technicality while here the mix of chromaticisms and technicality turns some sections into din and jettisons all of the engaging moments that can enthrall a listener with both insane speed and mind-blowing emotional output. The music feels stunted and castrated without this equilibrium being satisfied. Sure, it comes out of the mix sometimes, but most of the time the album gets stuck in this unfortunate midrange that still can melt your face but isn't as likeable mid-melt.
The framing of my personal analysis is rather skewed though. I've been comparing this album to the old one because I know what The Fall of Troy is capable of. I know that this is subpar by their calibration. On a normal scale though, this album is great. It's a solid 9/10, but when the standards and boundaries of rockitude are so reamed relative to the prior album, it's impossible to respect this album as much. These guys are great musicians and songwriters, which makes it hard to bash this album so much, but this is a disappointment. I'm confident though that their future efforts will show promise. These guys are only 19-20 years old and definitely have a future in the music industry. I hope they excel and kick what I'm reservedly calling a "sophomore slump."
Recommended Tracks: Act One, Scene One; The Hol[ ]y Tape, Laces Out, Dan!
Great review DFelon. I agree that "Part 4" is just amazing, and I'm glad I can still hear it on the band's myspace or purevolume site (I forget which one has that particular song).
Same thing with F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X., the original one (with an even goofier abbreviation) was much cooler even if was a few paces slower. They gave the bassline in the verses to the guitar! How dare they!
i think it's acutally 4 new songs. and the ghost ship demos are amazing. i would've given this a 4/5 or around there because i felt their s/t needed production...only not this much ya know? I'm sure the next disc will be ridiculous. And after seeing them live i can honestly say thomas owns just about everyone else in the industry...that boy can play the geetar like no other.
I think their new album has been overrated but in general they're not overrated, just overhyped. This is a band that could grow naturally based off of their own fungibility, but they've been inflated by scenesters. Hopefully I'm hedging against that.
Uhh, you probaby listened to the songs off of A New Set of Lungs. On that album they were still writing screamo songs. There are glimpses of the catchy technicality that was to come ("Lend Me Your Brain (I'm Building an Idiot)") but in general, that's not the point of that EP. Their recent LP and EP, Cryonics and especially Fair Trades and Farewells show lots of technical and progressive trends in the music.
Good review. To whoever said they're overrated, I dont htink so, no one besides me and my girlfriend have even heard of them around here. And I agree with some of the origional versions being better, but I also think that it's just progression or that its their bigger label debut and the next album they'll have more freedom. The next album will undoubtadably be sick as hell though.
littedrummerboy, you have to understand that any and all hype on a -core band these days comes from the internet. The internet is the way it spreads and is international, not just local with you and your girlfriend who you should post some n00dz of. People go to shows with this hyped impression. The hype doesn't come from the actual shows anymore. This isn't a bad thing for a lot of bands but in the Fall of Troy's case it's rather detrimental I think.
Ya, Fair Trades and Farewells is essentially a emo mindfuck. The songs are still catchy but have some sick fretwork. Also, the mix on Cryonics kills a lot of the guitar. You also have to consider the originality in the guitar riffs, which is a form of technicality all on its own.