Review Summary: Thank you, Blessthefall, for finally waking up and improving upon most of your flaws.
After the significant improvement and regime change between His Last Walk
, Blessthefall had finally earned some respect, and more credibility then “entertainment for the scene kids”. Beau Bokan proved to be a much stronger vocalist than Craig Mabbit, and it seemed that with his arrival, the rest of the group approved as well. So, logically, the group’s third studio release and second with Bokan should’ve been even better than Witness
. Yes, even if just barely.
This time around, the band is much heavier. Bassist/harsh vocalist Jared Warth experiments much more with hardcore yells and straight-up growls, avoiding much of the high screams he used to rely on, while Beau carries much less of the band’s sound, evening out the ratio between screams and cleans. Credit should also be given to lead guitarist Eric Lambert. While he showcased his ability to play capable leads on both HLW and Witness
, he veers much closer to soloing this time around, and “Promised Ones” includes a brief but talented solo. Speaking of guitars, Blessthefall picked up a new rhythm guitarist in 2011, a man by the name of Elliot Gruenberg. Though Elliot does fall into chugging a little too often, on songs like “I’m Bad News, In The Best Way” and “The Reign”, he showcases his ability to easily play right along with Eric. Like the previous BTF records, both drums and bass are lacking, unfortunately.
Raging opener “Promised Ones” is one of the songs that best displays the band getting heavier, what with its sledgehammer guitars, pulsating screams, and barely-there cleans. Tracks like “The Reign” and “Bottomfeeder” also successfully display the band at their heavier side, but do have enough melody to satisfy die-hard Blessthefall fans. Speaking of die-hards, fans of HLW would be wise to check out “I’m Bad News, In The Best Way”, as both the predominant clean vocal appearance and the guitar work sound exactly like early-era Blessthefall. “40 Days” also sounds like a stronger B-side from HLW, due mainly again to the cleans and the appearance of the keyboard, which was severely cut down on this album. “Bones Crew” may be the best song that displays a mix of older and newer BTF, as it blends the stronger cleans with the beefed-up guitar work, while the tremolo picking throughout the heavy “Don’t Say Goodbye” is a real treat. Finally, “Meet Me At The Gates” is a strong progressive number with fantastic guitar work, and a wonderful contrast between upliftingly melodic and atmospherically heavy, even though screamed vocals barely appear at all.
The guitar-work has always been one of the best parts of BTF, and neither guitarist disappoints here. Beau is only stronger, while Jared’s improvement as the growler is palpable and much appreciated. The band finally seems to be taking themselves seriously with this record, as they cut down on the “trendy” synth breaks that plagued His Last Walk
and appeared a little too much on [/i]Witness. However, there’s still filler towards the end of the record, and one couldn’t accuse Blessthefall of being innovative with Awakening
Lyrically, Awakening is on the weaker side, but to a lesser degree than previously. The band’s Christian faith is even less apparent, and they instead focused more on encouragement with the record. Songs like “Promised Ones” and “Awakening” encourage revolution from tough situations, while “Bottomfeeder” verbally attacks a vile enemy. “Don’t Say Goodbye” and “I’m Bad News, In The Best Way” are typical love songs that could end up feeling contrived and boring, so be aware of that.
was the band’s first album worth a whole purchase, Awakening
is even better. If you still weren’t impressed with Witness
, then chances are, you’ll be impressed with at least most of the band’s third effort. Thank you, Blessthefall, for finally waking up and improving upon most of your flaws.