Review Summary: A highly enjoyable but flawed gem
Not long ago I stumbled across a band named Hail the Villain here on Sputnik. Well received but not as well known, the Canadian hard rock group was described as “angry” and “energetic” and seemed overall deserving of its praise. Listening to their album myself, the band truly felt like an unstoppable force at times, particularly during the standout tracks “Runaway” and “My Reward”. Unfortunately, the downside also became fast apparent with shared member criticisms of frequent repetition and lack of creativity, often pertaining to today’s mainstream media. Hungry for more despite the obvious flaws, I began searching for similar acts but kept coming up empty.
With “Runaway” being looped for hours, I began to realize that the main reason behind my new found obsession was Bryan Crouch, the vocalist. Loud and infectious, like something out of 28 days later, the singer possessed a staying power that, once witnessed, was difficult to dismiss. It is through his history that I found Farenheit, a pre Hail the Villain hard rock group with Bryan Crouch once again at the helm. So, supremely excited and a little annoyed at the time I’ve wasted looking for something that was right under my nose, I played “Death March”, the first, and what quickly became a favorite song from Disconnected.
If the length of my intro has you puzzled yet intrigued, you’ll be happy to know that my logic is the shared positive qualities of the two bands. Farenheit, much like Hail the Villain, is dominant in its delivery, addictive in its sound and is likely to get you in trouble with your neighbors if heard like it was meant to. Anger is once again the central theme, not even attempting to conceal itself with song titles such as “I Hate You”, “Leaving You” and “Painkiller”. It’s dark and gloomy and yet performed in such a way that makes you feel strengthened rather than discouraged. I must again emphasise the singers’ voice for he is the piece that makes this clock tick. With instrumentals taking the back seat throughout most of this album, Bryan Crouch and his unbelievably haunting scream, now sadly the reason behind his serious vocal cord condition, pull this LP from the dark depths of mainstream to the bright heights of hope.
Farenheit surpasses Hail the Villain if only for the presence of a much more varied song selection. The band is more capable than they sometimes appear and I know this because of “Slander”, the last and by far the most impressive track off Disconnected, both vocally and technically. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and trying to describe it will only diminish its effect. Be prepared for an emotional and intense buildup, an unforgettable chorus and powerful instrumental work. Do not miss this song. Staying within the positive, the previously mentioned “Death march”, along with the title track “Disconnected” are other examples of highly melodic, catchy and actually creative material to be found here.
Unfortunately, with every good comes a certain degree of bad and that remains true here. While the tracks are more diverse than what was found on Population: Declining, some, like the aforementioned “I Hate You”, “Leaving You” and “Painkiller” rely too heavily on repetition without so much as a hint of redeeming qualities. You might even recognize some riffs from Hail the Villain, further demonstrating occasional gaps in creativity. On top of this, the meaning behind most of these songs is as obvious as water being wet, dragging the already overly repetitive lyrics further down.
When all is said and done, Disconnected is undeniably a very personal album. The simple lyrics may not mean much to you and I but they clearly meant something to the singer. Emotional and angry may be synonymous with teenage drama for many here but the truth is we all share similar feelings no matter our age or situation. If you can find it in you to disregard the preconceived opinions of others and judge for yourself, you will definitely find something to like here, especially if raw and energetic hard rock tickles your fancy.
Also, I’d like to wish the singer a speedy recovery and, while I don’t know the extent of his condition, I hope he returns to the music scene at some point in time.