The Fall of Troy
Mukiltearth


3.0
good

Review

by Johnny[Well] STAFF
August 11th, 2020 | 40 replies


Release Date: 08/07/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: (we are) the future of what

The Fall of Troy have been a band out of time for over a decade now. Back in 2009, the Sputnik staff review for their dumpster-fire fourth outing In the Unlikely Event described the band as “lost”, perhaps a little melodramatic a description for those keeping their fingers crossed, but ultimately an accurate forecast of their subsequent fate. While 2016’s comeback of sorts OK avoided plumbing the same depths as its predecessor, it indicated that piecemeal songwriting, frontman Thomas Erak’s atrocious lyricism and grating vocals and - four independently released mixes be damned - ropey production value were to remain mainstays of the band’s style. Their latest album Mukiltearth certainly suffers from most of these drawbacks, but more than any other Fall of Troy releases so far, it poses wider questions about just what exactly the band are doing halfway through the second decade of their career.

This in large part due to the band’s largely unchanging M.O. in times that very much aren’t what they used to be. Back in their early days, technicality went a long way: Kidcrash and Off Minor were the most exciting bands in the world for anyone who knew they existed, people were throwing compliments of virtuosity at groups as frantic and unrefined as Circle Takes the Square, Minus the Bear were able to masquerade sex appeal out of groovy tap guitar, and, in 2003, The Fall of Troy and Hot Cross’ integration of acrobatic fretwork into a framework of riff-happy screamo must have seemed like the start of something huge. Neither band put too much attention into the finer details, but that was irrelevant in wake of their brash arsenal of thrills. Things shifted around the late ‘00s: Dance Gavin Dance and Ling Tosite Sigure rewired these sloppy guitar heroics into something leaner and more sophisticated (read: their guitarists relied on legitimate funk technique rather than aping the Mars Volta for dramatic effect), and over the following decade their many waves of bastard musical offspring ft. Tillian Pearson set about rehashing their style into overpolished masturbatory swill. Flashforward to the present day and it’s very hard to be impressed with this sound in general when so many groups have joylessly run its potential for cheap thrills into the ground.

In most cases it would be unfair to question whether a band’s whole style is best left in the past before putting the specifics of their work under the microscope, but since six of Mukiltearth’s ten tracks are rerecordings of the group’s 2002 EP Martyrs Among The Casualties (as The Thirty Years War), it’s somewhat pertinent here. On the one hand, that EP’s production and performances were scrappy to the point of farcicality, so a rerecording was hardly a misconceived prospect, but on the other, it’s a little saddening to see the band struggling to recreate their heyday magic while sacrificing much of the haphazard execution that made them such a blast to begin with. This isn’t just nostalgiaspeak: the ultra-clean production and improved musicianship of the Mukiltearth versions has the unfortunate side effect of exposing dynamic and pacing flaws that were skirted over by their raw volatility of the tracks’ original recordings. For instance, if this version of “The Tears of Green-Eyed Angels” had been presented as a contemporary original, it would be written off as a directionless mess marred by meandering fretplay in the verses and insufferably thin screams in the chorus (a trait common to the album as a whole). It’s questionable whether this track was ever particularly worthwhile, but the band’s attempt to clean it up gives me the impression that what it really needed was a mercy killing.

Fortunately, the other rerecordings fare better. “Mirrors Are More Fun Than Television” is a fun attempt at a miniepic that channels the amateurish deliberateness of the band’s high school songwriting into a serviceable complex structure. It’s an enjoyable listen here, but it misses much of the energy that smoothed over cracks in its pacing, while its newfound polish subdues the stakes and excitement that once made the original such a portentous showcase of the band’s potential. Following on, “The Day the Strength of Men Failed” comes out the best of the rerecordings simply because its pacing and riff placement were on the money from the get-go. As a rule of thumb for any post-Manipulator Fall of Troy song, the longer the band take their foot off the gas, the higher the odds of Erak’s vocal performance dragging things down like a lead balloon. Neither “The Day the Strength of Men Failed” nor the sizzling once-closer “Knife Fight at the Mormon Church” give the momentum a chance to sag this way, and they come off the better for it.

All in all, these rerecordings are an enjoyable trip down memory lane, but the band’s fixation on their roots is less a positive indication that they remember the qualities that once made them a great, and more an unambiguous sign that they are unlikely to recapture their glory days in studio any time soon. It is, I suppose, a good thing that versions of these songs exist in the world in a form that doesn’t border on demo quality, but it feels like a case of too little too late. On the other hand, the four tracks that close the album present the band’s contemporary songwriting in a more encouraging light. These tracks are essentially a considerably tighter refinement of the OK sound, proficiently paced and much more in tune with the album’s production and the contemporary list of things Thomas Erak can and can’t do with his voice. The likes of “Round House” and “Counting Sheep” are beefier and more fleet-footed than the rerecorded songs, showcasing a leanness and precision that makes for an occasionally impressive showcase of chops. “Round House” in particular slips in and out of successive breakdowns with a slickness that smacks of the band’s years of experience far more than the immature stop-starts that peppered OK; this track is perhaps the most positive indication of what their future might look like. For all Mukiltearth manages to steer clear of outright flops, such glimpses are in worryingly short supply; the album shows the band stubbornly refusing to grow out of a sound that the rest of the world has by and large moved on from.




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3.2
good
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Drunk Author : Tequila Mockingbird (4)
We are the future... And I guess the past too....



Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2020


28901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fuck swancore tbh

Digging: Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist

Cormano
August 11th 2020


2221 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent review



flawed as this sometimes gets I can't help but like it a lot, just been having nothing but great fun with these tunes

cold
August 11th 2020


5640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I fell off after Manipulator, but this doesn't seem all too bad. Hearing the re-recordings hearkens back to those early TFOT days, but maybe that's the only real reason why I like it. I don't ever expect another Doppelganger to fall outta these dudes asses.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

Oneironaut
August 11th 2020


442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree with @Cormano - I dunno why I dig it, but I do. a 3.5 for me, but nostalgia bumps it up a bit.



Nice review!

Mort.
August 11th 2020


15174 Comments


'Back in their early days, technicality went a long way: Kidcrash and Off Minor were the most exciting bands in the world for anyone who knew they existed, people were throwing compliments of virtuosity at groups as frantic and unrefined as Circle Takes the Square, Minus the Bear were able to masquerade sex appeal out of groovy tap guitar, and, in 2003, The Fall of Troy and Hot Cross’ integration of acrobatic fretwork into a framework of riff-happy screamo must have seemed like the start of something huge. Neither band put too much attention into the finger details, but that was irrelevant in wake of their brash arsenal of thrills. Things shifted around the late ‘00s: Dance Gavin Dance and Ling Tosite Sigure rewired these sloppy guitar heroics into something leaner and more sophisticated'

this is pre accurate. i remember finding about Dance Gavin Dance from a Hot Cross comment section on youtube. it was around the time that dbm2 was coming out and people were furiously trying to deny Dance Gavin Dance any similarity to Hot Cross. as a post hardcore noob at the time with no hang ups about my fav bands or what was considered cool it seemed pretty clear that dgd were just doing what Hot Cross did but in a less messy punky tone.

botb
August 11th 2020


14064 Comments


Did these dudes ever make a studio version of the vomiting winter? That song was insane.

SteakByrnes
August 11th 2020


20831 Comments


Nice review johnny ily I might check this out

Digging: Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 11th 2020


35877 Comments


I've only ever heard Manipulator, and all I remember about it is that I used to love Semi-Fiction. Might check this just for the heck of it.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

notagenius
August 11th 2020


360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review is so well written.



I hope the band gets its cohesion back and confidently takes the future well. The band has a very raw charm, to me this band can not be replaced by any other one.



EDIT:

They may have as many flaws as the stars, but that one strength is as bright as the sun.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2020


28901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks y'all, glad to see so many people are enjoying this. Writing the rev felt kinda like kicking a sick puppy; I hope the band keep their shit together and get their mojo back at some point, preferably with an album that makes it easier to say nice things about them

"I've only ever heard Manipulator, and all I remember about it is that I used to love Semi-Fiction. Might check this just for the heck of it."

Semi-Fiction is a huge banger and easily one of my faves on that lol, probs worth checking out their first two over this



Dolving999
August 11th 2020


1847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I could put here so many of your quotes I agree with, but that would be futile.



I agree with everything you said. Spot-on review, congrats Johnny!

Groundking
August 11th 2020


1489 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mirrors is a great tune. I'd like this a lot more if the screams weren't so shit.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 11th 2020


15163 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good review

hortanz
August 11th 2020


809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wish there were more than 4 new originals

GreyShadow
August 11th 2020


4230 Comments


"Fuck Swancore tbh"
well that's certainly an opinion

MillionDead
August 11th 2020


2119 Comments


Agreed with "Fuck Swancore". I was super into that sound for a long time and I'll probably always have some nostalgic favs from the early 2010's and 2000's, but the well's really run dry over time. It's just sort of reduced itself to overpolished shred-pop to me.

Really only listened to OK for a day or so. Rolled my eyes at the constant re-releases and didn't bother. I really want this band to become great again and also be brave enough to write a project of entirely new songs. They can never be the band that they were in high school again, they should use the years to their advantage.

Gyromania
August 11th 2020


30611 Comments


i got real excited when i saw this on the front page. bummer

Jamdbz
August 11th 2020


756 Comments


bummed half of this is just old shit rerecorded

Digging: The Armed - Only Love

MrGlass
August 11th 2020


392 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the 4 new songs are exciting and a step in the right direction for TFOT. the old songs don't really do it for me. would've been a killer EP

Digging: ERRA - Neon

Cormano
August 11th 2020


2221 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

chain wallet fucks



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