Some general impressions
This album quite suprised me, when I first picked it up and gave it a listen in my local record store. The only song I knew before this album by BoySetsFire was 'After the Eulogy', and so I expected something towards the direction Hardcore/Metalcore. But after the first chorus of the second song, 'Last Year's nest', I thought: "Wow, how emo..."
Nevertheless, I took it home and gave it a longer listen. There are still songs that have a touch of Hardcore (and I mean touch, not pure Hardcore). Songs like 'Realease the Dogs' or 'On in five' are pretty good for mosh pits and stuff. Fast paced, shouted vocals, deep and hard guitar riffs. But that's the smaller part of the album. Most of the time, you hear melodic vocals, long stretched melodic choruses, or chorus lines and pre-choruses that sound pretty 'suffering'. And I guess that that was the thing that gave me the impression of emo. Plus, work with two guitars, pretty typical for newer Emo or Screamo bands.
But don't think you will be encountered with lyrics about lost relationships and similar stuff. The lyrics are very intelligent, on a very high level compared to other bands (except for some clichee like lines like "So save your wishes for the sky", 'Last year's nest'). Topics are the ongoing downward spiral of society, corruption of governments and of the views of the normal man on the street. Like it is mentioned in the booklet, 'Protest is Patriotism'. That basically describes the topic of the lyrics pretty well. I like that. You could say it's a very political album IMO.
Come to speak about the music itself. I already said a bit about the vocals, so I just state here that he get's the job done pretty well IMO. Nothing to rant about here. Overall, the other instruments work well together, though I sometimes asked myself if it is really necessary to have two guitarists. You can hear that you need two six-stringers sometimes, but a bit more detailed guitar work wouldn't have been bad. But, the riffs are great, and stretch somewhere between punk, melodic rock, newer metal etc. Good stuff. The basslines are good, but mainly follow the guitar. The bass breaks out here and there, and does some nice stuff, but nothing very special. Same goes for the drums, though that is the instrument I understand least about. So I might see that wrong.
Overall, tight writing, the instruments work very well together. Thumbs up for that. Now to go a bit more detailed...
What I really like about the album:
On some songs accents are set by the use of piano and other instruments/sounds. Good example: Last year's nest. On some songs there are some interludes used (Speech on the beginning of 'Foundations to burn'), radio static and muddy radio songs/speeches (between 'White wedding dress' and 'On in five'). The songs are a lot of fun to listen to, as they are (like mentioned) very well written. Which is not to be taken for granted in the music scene of today. Absolute plus are the lyrics. It's been a while I heard such intelligent lyrics with such messages, really nice.
And, the bass intro to 'Bathory's Sainthood' reminds me of Tool, good stuff. :)
What was not so good:
Some may not like the way this record leans towards emo/screamo. You could say that it is political inspired emo-music. Some of the suffering-like vocals bring bands like Thursday to my mind, the lyrics and that kind of singing sometimes seem a bit displaced. Like they are not really meant to be together. But in the end, that should not spoil the fun with that record. I got used to that kind of singing combined with those vocals pretty fast. Other than that, nothing negative comes to my mind right now.
The musical work on this record is very good (I know, I repeat myself...). These are not your everyday lyrics, very well written and with serious topics. Some folks who know them a bit longer than I do, might find it sad that they moved away from their Hardcore/Metalcore roots. It can not be denied that they got softer compared to for example "After the Eulogy". But does it always have to be as hard as can be" I don't think so, and most of the songs are still harder then most bands out there. To sum it up: If you look for a sort of political inspired album, intelligent lyrics and good musical work, give this one here a try.
And, definately give the booklet a look. Espacially the first and last page.
My song suggestions:
Last Year's nest - gives a good impression of the 'emo-aspect'. Still, one of the best songs on the album
Bathory's Sainthood - You gotta love the intro, great. One of the songs that have a more darker and melancholic twist. Final part of this song is really great as well.
Release the dogs - Here you hear a bit of the hardcore roots, so to say. Especially regarding the vocals on the verse. Chorus is melodic again. Nice stuff!
Foundations to burn - Kinda funny intro speech, relative fast paced song somewhere between 'Last Year's nest' and 'Bathory's Sainthood'. Those songs should give you a good insight into the album.
Clearly, 4/5 for me