Review Summary: FTFD return to their roots with great results.
Lansing, Michigan’s favourite metalcore sons For The Fallen Dreams came to prominence in 2008 when they released their highly acclaimed album Changes which was described as ‘’Typical metalcore, just a hell of a lot better’’. They followed it up with another solid album ‘’Relentless’’ with a new man behind the microphone. The talented vocalist Chad Ruhlig left to pursue other opportunities. In came Dylan Richter, a guy who could definitely scream and impressed on Relentless, but just lacked the talent of his predecessor. The albums released after with Dylan were the overall average ‘’Back Burner’’ and the downright awful ‘’Wasted Youth’’. With Chad in his new band ‘’Legend’’ fans screamed for him to reunite with his former band. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Heavy Hearts is a fantastic return to form for the Michigan quintet.
The album starts off with ‘’Emerald Blue’’ with the unmistakable voice of Chad Ruhlig absolutely destroying anything FTFD had released with Richter behind the microphone. ‘’Fight for your life’’ is the first lyric Chad screams, and the album kicks off on a good note. The album continues on, but the album’s fifth song ‘’Bombay’’ really capturing the attention of the listener straight away with its melody. Harbouring back to their roots on Changes where the melodies were the focal point of the record. Easily the best song the band has written for some time. Song writing has also improved tenfold, but does have its moments where the lyricism drops below par, but the lyrics aren't a huge deal when it’s really Ruhlig that captures most of the attention.
The guitars on this are devastatingly heavy and accompany the heaviness of Chad’s voice perfectly. Jim Hocking’s performance is stellar. His riffs and melody on the previously mentioned ‘’Bombay’’ is some of the best work of the band’s career. Another song deserving of some recognition is ‘’Endless’’. Here the ever present Ruhlig is accompanied from some seriously solid drumming from Navid Naghdi, a great chorus combined with some clean vocals and another technical and melodic guitar playing. Bass player Brandon Stastny doesn't have many moments to shine as his work is usually drowned out in the mix of the heavy vocals and the heavily tuned guitar.
The inclusion of Garrett Rapp on ‘’Dream Eater’’ is a bit bizarre as he doesn't really seem to alter the song that much, and his clean vocal performance isn’t all that impressive either. I’m sure someone else in the band, maybe Chad himself could of done the vocals himself. Some other songs worthy of mention include the awesome up-tempo ‘’Amnesia’’ and the closer ‘’Smelling Salt’’. Both songs display what FTFD do best: Fantastic Ruhlig lyrics, solid guitar playing with some unique melodies, and solid drumming. Smelling Salt also includes a pretty cool clean passage towards the end which displays a great clean singing voice. Presumably being Chad or bassist Brandon.
While i’m sure this album will come under the same criticisms many metalcore bands come under, especially from other bands who share their label: The renowned Rise Records, some will find too much sameness in the songs, and Chad not really changing much pitch and tone wise. The song writing isn't too great, but is definitely better than most other bands trying to do the same style. And of course: Breakdowns. The album has plenty, but most actually adds a different flavour to the song and don’t take much away.
For The Fallen Dreams have succeeded in regaining a place amongst the top of the overcrowded metalcore genre. A fantastic return to form which should see the band move from strength to strength in the (hopefully) many albums to come.