Review Summary: In 37 minutes, Scarlet's second (and last) full-length album is a product of concise, yet equally enigmatic songwriting abilities. Unfortunately, the album proves the band's potential more so than their maturity.
Scarlet was, from the time I started the first track, a sort of enigma to me. As I gave the CD its first spin, each time that I seemed to form a confident opinion on the band - positive or negative - it was crushed moments later. For me, this seems to be the story of Scarlet; a band whose life was, sadly, cut far too short for them to settle into their sound and potential, as the band went on a long-term hiatus after the release of this album.
In This Was Always Meant To Fall Apart
, there are moments that invoke the strongest of emotions, ranging from strong, withheld frustration to balls-to-the-wall madness, expressed through memorable melodies (see: "The Embrace of a Paramedic"), occasional crushing - yet seldom generic - breakdown passages, strong production, intelligently aggressive lyrics, and enigmatically complex rhythms. However, it's also quite evident that the band died at a very awkward, pubescent age. The moments of brilliance are there, showcasing the band's potential, yet it seems as though no song fully exercises it. Upon the first few listens, the band's repetitive handful of chord progressions, similarly chaotic tapping passages, and little variation in sound as a whole come to light, and greatly dampen the album's grandeur.
As far as sound aesthetics go, This Was Always Meant To Fall Apart
is certainly a strong offering. Brandon Roundtree, the vocalist for Scarlet on this album, delivers some of the most angry, emotion-filled, cat-in-a-blender screams that I've heard in the genre, integrating powerful highs and equally strong lows into an all-out vocal assault. However, he should probably stick to that; his clean vocals tend to drop the ball at the emotional heights of several songs, sounding like a monotone teenager who forgot to take his allergy medication. They're certainly good enough to get by, but aren't quite up to snuff with the proficiency of the other aspects of the band. The guitarists and drummer can shred; that's made clear throughout. Yet they also know when to let songwriting take over, and show great judgment in restraint.
For the listener, the greatest challenge is undoubtedly decoding the album as a whole; in this sense, the album takes a while to fully appreciate. If you are anything like me, you will be left after the album's concise 37 minutes asking yourself, "what
just happened?" As with most metalcore acts following the progressive road-less-traveled-by, the album, on the surface. sounds like a wild maelstrom of sound. Most music of a similar nature tends to be quite difficult to judge in terms of focus. Even Calculating Infinity
by The Dillinger Escape Plan
, a classic within the genre, tends to be overwhelmingly chaotic for the first-time listener. For this reason, This Was Always Meant To Fall Apart
cannot be judged immediately (as much as I tried to do so, trust me, it ain't worth it).
As a final judgment, focus does not seem to be the missing ingredient in the album. Each song concisely achieves its purpose, invokes an emotional response, then moves to the next song in 3 minutes or shorter (perhaps the strongest track, "Law is Lawless", is 2:34). However, this ironically seems to be the biggest problem with the album - it's too
focused, in that respect. In several cases, the band fails to build songs appropriately in a superfluous effort to not overstay its welcome. Many times, a brilliant theme, a soaring chorus, or a strongly emotional passage is delivered, yet as soon as the listener comprehends what's going on, the moment is gone, never to be referenced again.
Nonetheless, Scarlet left us with a strong testament of the band's abilities and a solid listen (along with a strong desire to hear more). Who knows, perhaps the band's hiatus will end, and Scarlet will return with a more mature lineup? If this ends up being the case, expect something big.
Law is Lawless
The Embrace of the Paramedic