Review Summary: Boysetsfire play down the aggression with mixed results, but still manage to craft an album which is an enjoyable listen for the most part.
Boysetsfire aren't one of the most well known or talked about bands in the world. In spite of briefly being on a major label for an album (and having a song featured on the soundtrack album for the 2003 Daredevil film), they never quite managed to achieve mainstream success. However, in spite of this, they do have a devoted fanbase (particularly in Germany), and they have had a small part to play in influencing the current crop of Hardcore/Post Hardcore bands with Matt Davies-Kreye of Funeral for a Friend fame in particular citing Boysetsfire as an influence, and Frank Turner included their debut album in a list of his favourite Hardcore albums of all time back in 2014 around the time he was releasing Mongol Horde's debut.
With this album, their sixth overall and second since their return in 2010 after their three year split, Boysetsfire largely dial back on the aggression with the more melodic aspects of their sound coming more to the forefront. The end result is a slightly mixed bag of songs that have some truly great additions to the Boysetsfire back catalogue as well as a few duds that don't work quite as well as the other songs.
On the positive side, vocalist Nathan Gray's more melodic vocals sound as great as they always have. This album gives him plenty of moments to shine such as the fast, punky single One Match and the slow and sombre Ordinary Lives. For the most part, the more melodic side of the album is the strongest part, with the more Punk orientated tracks like the aforementioned One Match and Heaven Knows being particular highlights. The other members of the band all do their part well, all contributing to making the songs what they are.
The heavier side of the album is where things to fall a bit flat. The heavier songs aren't particularly bad (the closing two tracks Breathe In Bleed Out and Bled Dry are easily some of the best songs on offer here), but they seem to mostly be lacking the bite that previous of the band have had in spades (see After the Eulogy and Release the Dogs). It's hard to explain, but while it's clear that the band are giving it all that they have, there is definitely something missing when it comes to most of the heavier tracks on display here. Likewise, Fall From Grace, one of the more melodic tracks, feels a lot weaker compared to other songs on the album as well as other songs from the bands discography.
All flaws aside, this album is an enjoyable listen overall with some great energetic Punk songs and some slightly slower anthems, and even the slightly weaker tracks have their moments here and there.
Cutting Room Floor
Breathe In, Bleed Out