Flaw
Vol IV: Because of the Brave


3.0
good

Review

by turnip90210 USER (75 Reviews)
July 19th, 2019 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A pivotal moment

On paper, it would appear that Flaw has stabilised - after over a decade largely lost to various internal strife, the band took a perfectly customary three years to produce a follow-up to their reunion album. However, in typical Flaw fashion, a lot of stuff happened under the hood since we last checked in. While they may have caught the public eye for being the butt end of a running Colbert gag culminating in a free touring van, the most notable change was a definite splintering of the line-up. Prior incarnations of the band had a rotating cast of drummers and the occasional surplus guitarist, but a subset of the primal Jay Daunt and the expansive Lance Arny on guitars would be backed by dextrous bassist Ryan Jurhs. Chris Volz, the heart-on-sleeve charismatic frontman, has become the lone surviving original member. Flaw Anno Domini 2019 is comprised of the most technically prolific shredder to grace the fold and a rock-solid rhythm section poached from an exemplary progressive support act.

However impressive the new recruits' chops may be, Flaw's always been one of those acts that lived and died by the fickle whims of chemistry. The quality of the band's output was always extremely volatile, with gut-wrenching turmoil somehow capable of leading to both the band's best (Endangered Species) and worst (Homegrown Studio Sessions) records. As troubled as the relations between Volz and the original instrumentalists may have been, they had a magical spark that would allow them to craft genuine, memorable songs when the stars aligned. Unfortunately, the celestial bodies are a bit all over the place for the duration of Vol. IV.

There are moments where stuff manages to click. "Persistence" is all about monstrous drop A nu-metalcore riffs colliding with the brand of melodicism championed on Divided We Fall. Flaw's sound gets slightly updated with current developments while respecting the direction Volz was previously pursuing. It may not stick quite as well as the album highlights of yesteryear, but it comes pretty close. Things feel even more organic on surprise late-album banger "On Your Feet", with the band letting loose and messing around with electronic whooshes, bass fills and screeching guitar register jumps. For the first time in many moons, Flaw sounds like it's having fun rather than delivering some flavour of tenseness. It's a refreshing experience.

The bulk of the writing is studious, the guys are more concerned with crafting a Flaw-appropriate song than a good one. You can hear Volz failing to gel with the energy, leading to a plethora of adequate tracks that lack the secret ingredient to lift them off the ground. Look no further than workmanlike lead single "Conquer This Climb" with its overcautious main riff sounding like the musical equivalent of looking up at the rest of the band to check if things are okay for a perfect manifestation of this. "Walk the Line" has some interesting ideas, but is let down by an unneeded spoken word part reprise that shoots the song's momentum in the foot. "Everything" is just a touch too calculated in its balladry, and could have used a lengthy solo at the end for some instrumental catharsis. Things only really go south when Volz provides a clunker of a melody over particularly uninspired riffing. The worst offender is "Because of the Brave", butchering the listening experience with its track three hiccup. This is the sort of thing you try to sneak in mid-album, unnoticed, possibly ashamed it's there ("Prayer for the Lost"), not in broad daylight as the title track and second single.

The band can't be judged too harshly for Vol. IV's shortcomings. Volz's first collaboration with Daunt, recorded after more time than this line-up had to break itself in, had nuggets of brilliance buried among overlong, pedestrian workouts. Dissecting Divided We Fall reveals most of that album's gems to be archival material, and the stuff on here's comparable to the tracks Daunt and company weren't sitting on since 2007. "Persistence" and "On Your Feet" hint at good things coming out of this partnership if the parties involved manage to successfully feel each other out and get a groove going. That is, unless this line-up also splinters, turning Flaw into a Powerman 5000-style rotating cast of backing musicians. There are some signs that it might happen - the bassist skipped town, and the ridiculous guitarist's been stuck filling in for him live. I really hope it doesn't end up that way, Volz seems to be trying his damnedest if the release schedule and frantic touring is anything to go on. You're not likely to build up chemistry if your instrumentalists change like the seasons outside.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
2.9
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 19th 2019


9930 Comments


Pos, good review you've written here. I'm afraid nu-metal is definitely not my thing though.

Digging: Sparrows - Failed Gods

TheSupernatural
July 19th 2019


1993 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I thought Divided We Fall was alright but the mix of generic nu metal sound and patriotism wasn't exactly impressive. I'm still tempted to check the tracks you highlighted in the review but if this isn't noticeably better, I doubt I'll listen through the whole thing

KjSwantko
July 19th 2019


11343 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"the band's best (Endangered Species)"...……...Through the Eyes would take that honor. But great review - Pos'd. Can't decide if I want to bother listening or not.

KjSwantko
July 19th 2019


11343 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Was going to 2/5 this, up until the last track which basically just reads of the first six Amendments in the Bill of Rights. Autobump to 3.

turnip90210
July 20th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for the comments. Through the Eyes had the potential to be fantastic, but is marred by a horrible toothless production job and questionable track selection. Every now and then I entertain the thought of writing a joke script-form review of it, with the producer losing his mind upon hearing "Only the Strong" and making the band clone its chorus twice in quick succession.

KjSwantko
July 20th 2019


11343 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lmao what....



But seriously, I see what you're saying but I actually dig the production of Through the Eyes. So raw and heavy; fits the music and the songs.

Ebola
July 20th 2019


3631 Comments


is this nu metal about supporting the troops

KjSwantko
July 20th 2019


11343 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That and related themes, yes.

DatsNotDaMetulz
July 20th 2019


3912 Comments


In that case I'll pass.

TheSupernatural
July 20th 2019


1993 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I gave it a shot and I don't really like any of this. On Your Feet is the only song where it feels like they really go for it and it's easily the best. The rest feels like pretty standard radio rock but I've been over that sound for years, especially when half of it is banal patriotism.



The production is awful too, silly vocal effects and guitars miles back in the mix don't make for a hard-hitting rock record.

LelandAB
July 22nd 2019


443 Comments


Flaw V: Blue Lives Matter

KjSwantko
July 26th 2019


11343 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Doesn't really even seem like the same band of the earlier days honestly.



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