Often times a band or an artist will be overlooked because they merely decided to show up a little late to the party; even if what they do is better than anything else that has already gathered the attention of the crowd; Fallen Figure is a prime example of this unfortunate reality. In a genre packed with yawn worthy bands masked by crystal-clear production value and 808's, Fallen Figure proves that you can breathe some life into a seemingly dead horse. Their 2010 release Devival is a noteworthy debut from a band who will hopefully acquire the attention they truly deserve.
The first thing that captures the ear of the listener is the stellar production. Devival achieves a beautiful mix of mid-range heavy distorted guitars and powerful drum tone (albeit a bit triggered), and not one thing seems to be stepping on the toes of the other. The vocals are dead center-panned and that is exactly where they belong; they are clearly not the main strength of the band, though Sonik is not a bad vocalist by any stretch of the imagination. In a constant 200-BPM assault on the listener, you start to pick apart the real strengths of the band. Gabe Lopez is a tremendous example of the death metal drummer. He creates a vibrant array of sounds from the bells on his cymbals while seemlessly keeping an unrelenting beat beneath the band. He is a key part in the band and the production only helps to exemplify that fact. The vocals are your classic death-metal highs and lows, and Sonik fits the bill very well. A raw mid-range and a shrieking high here and there adds tons to the intensity of the already blistering music. The style he puts forth is nothing new by any stretch of the imagination, but in a sense that might be the appeal. The bass is unfortunately buried deep underneath the rest of the instrumentation, but in this genre that has come to be expected and quite frankly the guitars more than make up for it. Fallen Figure's guitarists Jonny Cruz and Dan Sugarman are an excellent duo and show up tons of others who have tried to pull off this style. The best comparison that can be made is if As Blood Runs Black had guitarists who actually paid attention in music theory class. Dan Sugarman is a phenomenal lead guitarist, and he achieves a beautiful tone on each and every solo, his guitar-work keeps the album interesting throughout. He has a fresh approach with a variety of influences that go far outside just The Black Dahlia Murder and Cannibal Corpse.
While the album is sonically pleasing, it suffers from the one of the bigger downfalls in newer metal albums: monotony. The songs are certainly good, but it is difficult to decipher one from the other and it can become frustrating. Going track to track you're likely to hear one intro that sounds just like one two or three songs ago, which in essence isn't all that
terrible as the songs are certainly entertaining. However, an album lacking dynamic just seems to be more of a showcase of songs rather than a unified statement which keeps it from being anything close to a classic. This, for a debut, is definitely forgivable as there is always room to improve and based on their musicianship this band will likely do just that. An upside to Fallen Figure is they don't rely on the breakdown to create the "heavy" factor, and don't heavily base the song around just trying to get kids to swing their arms around.
Devival is by no means perfect, but I'll be damned if it isn't entertaining. It is an incredibly fresh approach to a mind-numbing genre crowded by a sea of imitators. If you are willing to give something that is "deathcore" or "progressive death metal" a shot, this should be a record you invest in.