Review Summary: Possibly the first true trancecore artist.
As soon as I mention the term ‘Trancecore’ there's almost no doubt that a few readers out there will roll their eyes; and they’re certainly justified. If you've been living under a rock for the past five years and have no idea what I'm talking about, then I'll do my best to elaborate. Trancecore is a relatively new trend which has recently exploded into the mainstream, with acts such as 'Enter Shikari' and 'Asking Alexandria' leaping up the music charts. The basic concept is simple; hardcore or metalcore music coupled with electronic elements, with the intention of appealing to both the metal heads and the clubbers. It's an innovative idea and while a couple of bands manage to pull it off with style, the talented acts are simply swamped by the number of repetitive and dull musicians who are invading the scene and sucking the life out of the concept. High pitched auto-tuned vocals, chugging guitar rhythms and stale breakdowns; remove the electronics and you've just got yourself another post hardcore band filled with angst ridden teenagers trying to become the next big thing. See the fundamental problem with the genre is that it’s hit and miss; bands are either incredibly talented or incredibly painful to listen to; there’s very little middle ground. In fact I was almost on the verge of writing this genre off until I discovered ‘Fail Emotions’.
'Fail Emotions' are a Russian six piece band and I honestly believe they're the first true trancecore artist, the first artist to craft the music that the genre name suggests. Their band page description reads across in comically broken English; "the band is rapidly gaining momentum and rushing forwards to the new tops". However they're certainly wise for attempting to reach out to an English speaking audience, as their location is the largest drawback that's keeping this band from becoming widespread, alongside their American counterparts. The reason that Fail Emotions stands out from the crowd is their consideration for both sides of the style; making sure there's a balance between the trance and hardcore aspects, rather than simply being a hardcore band with some crappy trance thrown in. As well as finding the perfect levels between both, they also explore a more technical side within both sub-genres. The instrumental opener, appropriately titled 'Intro'
demonstrates this perfectly; rather than just ambient noise as with many album openers, this stands on its own as a proper song. Playful trance melodies escalate the tension for the first two minutes, before the pounding guitars and drums kick in. The drummer keeps the double kickers running while the electronics always remain center stage, backed by heavy guitar chords and climaxing with a crushingly brutal breakdown. And the album has hardly begun.
'Suit & Tie'
follows, and this is where we get the first look at the band's signature sound. Heavy hitting guitar chords and drums contrast with pulsating trance melodies, and instead of following the cliché formula of a hardcore song, it takes on more of a feel of a trance anthem. Soon after the clean auto-tuned voice enters, followed by a breakdown just before the minute mark, where we get the first taste of the screamed vocals. Personally I feel the clean vocals are nothing above anything else in the scene; they're certainly good but once a voice is auto-tuned it looses a lot of the individual characteristics in the sound that would usually vary from singer to singer. But don't let this put you off; the screams are certainly up to standard, and I'd listen to this band simply for the music alone. 'Wasted'
is another album highlight among many; it's the pop song of the album. It's simply the contrast of dynamics that makes this song so powerful; opening soft and with mellow electronic verses, so when the infectiously catchy chorus comes along, it hits even harder. This is one of the songs where the auto-tuned vocals work so well, exploring a wide dynamic range and meshing perfectly with the gentle verses and powerful chorus.
One of the predominant reasons this band is so much more enjoyable than the competition is how they work in a trance component at every available opportunity. It’s not just standard metalcore with a little trance section at the end, here the electronics are literally everywhere, and while listening I’m somewhat baffled to whether I should be dancing or moshing. ‘Satellite’
showcases this well, as the verse artfully switches between brutal breakdowns and typical techno beats. ‘Dance Macabre’
also contrasts the two styles well, ditching the verse chorus formula completely, instead meshing together a wide variety of trance, house and metalcore passages. Dubstep fans are looked after as well; ‘Makes Bad’
features a throbbing dubstep breakdown without ever losing its frantic pace, while ‘In The Mix (Electronic Trancestep Melody)’
give a chance for the electronics to work some magic on their own. Now while an electronics only track from a hardcore band often results in disaster (see ‘I See Stars’ and their painfully awkward ‘Sing This!’), however this is downright dirty little dubstep / techno track, and I’d go as far as saying it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Skrillex record. The album then closes with a ten minute epic, comprised of two parts. For comparison, if you’ve ever played a game which after a few tutorial levels instructs you, ‘now let’s try everything we’ve learnt so far’, this would be the musical equivalent. Pulling together all the elements from earlier on in the record, it then combines them into one powerful trancecore epic, a perfect close to album.
In fact I could write a section full of praise on every song in this album if I wanted to. It's a brilliant creation from start to finish. It's also got such a brilliant overall sound production wise, with everything sounding heavy and large, featuring some top notch quality synths. What's even more amazing is the fact that the band produced and mixed this album themselves, crafting a better sound than you'll hear from most of the mainstream hardcore acts today. I used to think this was a dead genre, but after listening to this band my faith is renewed. Viva la Trancecore!
Suit & Tie