Review Summary: I remember when we had nothing and strived for something
It's not exactly a secret that the mainstream post-hardcore/metalcore scene is a homogenous mass of meat-headed breakdowns and stale songwriting, so there's really no reason to give a detailed background explanation on it. What can be said, however, is this: BlessTheFall's debut EP (and by extension their debut LP, His Last Walk
) is a bit different. It's nothing we have not heard before, but it is very well done nonetheless, and it is clear that a lot of time and passion was put into the creation of the record. By taking some of the best parts from their influences (Silverstein, with some Underoath and a bit of As I Lay Dying), BlessTheFall crafts a very solid, albeit unambitious EP that is fun and interesting too.
The two biggest things that BlessTheFall does different from many of their contemporaries are the notions that they can actually write a nice riff or two, as well as making their choruses infectiously fun. Craig Mabbit is quite adept at making his vocals, both clean and unclean, genuinely emotional. One of his highlights is during the breakdown of "Black Rose Dying", when he ends his lines with a sort of panicky hyperventilating, giving a very unsettling and pained atmosphere to the song in the process.
Eric Lambert and Mike Frisby, the lead and rhythm guitarist respectively, do know how to play their guitar and write a decent, fun riff. The tapping-riff laden "Take Me Now" and the dissonant "Black Rose Dying" are two perfect examples of their songwriting formula; it's neither technical nor overly simple, but is catchy and fun enough to keep the listener interested. Jared Warth mans the bass, and he does have some audible moments on "Wait For Tomorrow" and "Times Like These". His vocals are much rawer and raspy sounding, and he sometimes ends up croaking rather than screaming proper. The drumming by Matthew Traynor is as solid as they come, with some very nice fills and a couple of sections of dandy double-bass kicking permeating the songs.
BlessTheFall do vary their songwriting somewhat on this EP, and it works to decent effect. They can play post-hardcore well, as exemplified by "Wait For Tomorrow" and "Higinia", but can also lean heavily towards metalcore with "Black Rose Dying" and "There's A Fine Line..." More still, a soft section in "There's A Fine Line..." is a nice break from the action, and the solo piano intro to "Take Me Now" sets up the rest of the song very well. The lyrics are focused mainly on the issues associated with a fading relationship, which isn't anything new to this style of music. However, the band also writes about the death of a loved one and issues concerning faith. Some of the lyrics can stray into cringe-worthy territory, but they usually aren't that much of a bother. Occasionally, the screams from Mabbit and Warth overlap and form a howling whirlwind. Although the overall comprehension of what they're saying suffers, it helps to further the desired emotion of the song.
The issues with this EP certainly stem from the limitations of the style of music they play. There are quite a few breakdowns on here, and while some are accompanied by a riff, others stand alone, more often than not being underwhelming. The screams by Mabbit are fine, but the screams by Warth leave a lot to be desired when on their own. The production on this EP is also shaky, as the sound of it changes on the song "Pray", sounding much more amateur. Also, the drums sometimes take over the songs and muffle the riffs just a bit. Being nearly a half-hour long, the runtime is a bit long for an EP, but the music is good enough and fun enough to keep the listener interested for the duration.
BlessTheFall is an interesting band, not just because they write rock solid songs, but because they themselves have so much fun doing it. They put the right amount of passion and intensity into their music in order to make it work, despite the inherent flaws it has. They just write and play the music that they love, and make sure casual listeners and fans alike have a good time listening.