Review Summary: A very hard hitting dose of metalcore that is not overly original but is heavy as hell and has some great vocals and riffs
Iowa-based metalcore act For Today are generally seen as being one of the best known Christian metal bands out there, for a variety of reasons. The first of these would be that their back catalogue is rather accessible due to the simplified nature of it, and another reason would be the fact that they are remarkably consistent. Whilst they have never threatened bands like As I Lay Dying in terms of commercial performance, they still have calved out a neat career for themselves; indeed enough of one that few metalcore fans discredit the idea of checking them out. Their latest album, Immortal, was really just a case of them going through the motions and putting out an album that their fans would enjoy.
One major turn-off that many find in For Today's music is the fact that, on top of being overly simplistic, they are also overly preachy. This has continued and been amplified on Immortal, with lines such as "I will never abandon this God, my devotion's uncompromising" mingling with other Christian sentiments such as "Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are not alone". The effect that these lines will have will vary from listener to listener, but the lyrics here are surprisingly well written. They often reference the "final battle" during the Rapture depicted in the Revelations chapter of the bible, but other topics include the idea of not truly living until devoting ones life to Jesus. Many will be irked by these lines but they are delivered with such utter savage intensity and conviction that to turn ones back on this band purely due to that would be a sin. For Today's vocalist shows in the song Immortal that he can both growl, scream and deliver high pitched black metal-sounding shrieks all in the same song, whilst Fearless has a remarkable clean sung chorus, all of which display an abundance of talent on the vocal frontier.
The instrumental performances here never once threaten to break any boundaries, and instead follow the format of the band's prior material:
First, the band lays down a simplistic groove-driven riff involving a multitude of open string notes usually on the top string, with a couple of 1st fret and 2nd fret notes scattered throughout. After this, they lay down some decent lead work at times over the top of it all, including the great work heard on Stand Defiant (which also has some pretty cool palm-muted riffs). Finally, the band looks at what they have so far and tosses in a lot of double-bass work and some snare and cymbal hits, and buries a bass guitar in the thick of things to create a final piece of backing work. Whilst this may not sound too appealing, it really works in the context this simplified nature is used in. The really great thing about this is the variety on display and the way the album appears to progress in what is going on as you get through it. The first couple of tracks rely primarily on open string riffing, whereas Immortal has some cool lead work and incredible faster paced riffing. Set Apart is a track that really stands out from the rest of the bunch, with a magnificent drum performance as well as some more intricate riffing than one will expect from this band. The moments of blast beats on this song, particularly in the first verse, whilst brief really add a lot to the one-dimensional nature that this album displays at times.
The structuring of these songs is nothing revolutionary but works well for saying this band is just a metalcore act preaching the Gospel. There are breakdowns in abundance throughout, but they are hard hitting more often than not. Foundation in particularly has an incredible one : "I have built my life on the rock of my foundation" the vocalist declares before suddenly the song stops its brisk pace and slows right down with the declaration of "and I will not be moved". Immortal opens up extremely slowly in a breakdown, and this may sound bad, but it really suits the dark and gloomy nature of this track. The last few songs on this album are not quite as heavy in the number of breakdowns they use, and whilst they would have been better served if they were scattered among the chuggier numbers, it really feels as though the album has picked up a lot of momentum by this point. These tracks are like a steamroller in the sense that they are content to be slow moving and remain crushingly heavy all the way through, and therefore can not really be faulted. The one problem with this album is the lack of creativity, and the fact that both the introductory track and the interlude track feel as though they are merely there as a gimmick to break up the album.
For Today's Immortal is a very powerful album that does exactly what a metalcore album should do-hits hard with some good riffing, a mixture of screaming and sung vocals, and has some very tightly executed breakdowns. The songs themselves are nothing overly special but when heard as a full product, this isn't lacking in the slightest. I don't give five sixths of a shiny red *** whether you are Christian, Satanic, Jewish, Rastafarian, Gay, Straight, Bi, Human, Ape, Vampire... Just listen to this.