Review Summary: A brief case study of Rise Records Hardcore through Legend’s The Pale Horse.
With the recent blossoming of the digital age and social media outlets, the term hardcore has become relatively ambiguous in certain social circles. While the do-it-yourself mentality in hardcore is far from dead, it has undoubtedly become much easier to produce excellent sound quality with less expensive equipment. The distribution aspect has been greatly altered as well. The ease in downloading relatively obscure material in high quality has spawned (among many other things) an influx of very heavy, very simple music that has latched on with high-school tough guys and misfits alike. The capitalization by Rise Records on the musically oblivious crowd can be seen through a number of mediums and outlets, but I’d like to focus on this particular album because of the connections between its vocalist and one of the first successful Rise Hardcore albums, Changes
by For The Fallen Dreams.
The aforementioned album marked one of the first times that Rise had produced a breakdown-centric album, and it was met by a select few as being a superior product. While marketed as melodic hardcore, Chad Ruhlig’s deep, bellowing vocals and the abundance of binary riffs spawned a Rise offshoot of hardcore still growing in popularity today. With the constant signing and simultaneous production of records for bands like For the Fallen Dreams, Attack Attack, Like Moths to Flames, The Plot In You, and Dream On Dreamer, many Rise albums and bands are sounding homogenous. Legend’s The Pale Horse is no different. Downtuned guitars and 4/4 time signatures dominate the album, the guitars rarely stray from binary riffing, the vocals are deep and well enunciated with angsty lyrics, and the drumming only serves to kick to the rhythm of the guitars. The only way to distinguish whether you are listening to a verse or a breakdown is the presence of a bass drop and repeated vocals, as is seen in every single track.
The question that remains isn’t why a certain demographic eats this type of simple, redundant music up, it is why bands would want to do this in the first place. No member of the band outside of the vocalist displays any talent, as there is nary a lead or interesting drum fill on the entire album. I would like to introduce a (paraphrased) quote from ex-Crimson Armada bassist Christopher Yates, who summarized the following about to his former band changing their style from melodic death metalcore to a Rise-styled nu-hardcore:
“We were all sick of having to worry about having the crowd fall asleep during our more technical days, and the other guys really wanted to write stuff where they could concentrate on being active and getting the crowd going. Now with their new material everyone in the crowd can get involved even if they haven’t heard of us before.”
As ridiculous as that seems in terms of quality musical output, it is becoming a popular ideology in a growing industry. While I don’t think anyone needs to worry about quality hardcore and metalcore becoming obsolete, it is becoming abundantly clear that this style of music is only growing in popularity while only fitting a specific demographic of music listeners.