by Mateo Ottie USER (11 Reviews)
February 23rd, 2021 | 9 replies

Release Date: 02/12/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I exist somewhere inbetween.

Oregon-based metalcore outfit Fallstar have returned with their first album in 6 years ‘Sunbreather’. While long hiatuses tend to harm most bands, it did the opposite for Fallstar, with ‘Sunbreather’ being the band’s most experimental and creative record to date, taking elements from metalcore, alternative, and hip-hop and plugging them into their sound all throughout the album. The record is full of surprises and warrants multiple listens to fully grasp, with the experimentation being clear from the start, notably on the rap-rock song “Chroma'' opening the album.

"Chroma", to put it bluntly, is an awful song and the album's biggest misstep. It doesn't fit at all with the rest of the album sonically and to put it as the opening track on the album was a terrible decision. The album is significantly better without it and the combination of the synths and rapping on the song sounds like it is a Hollywood Undead b-side from 2011. The transition between "Chroma" and the catchy and much better alt-rock track “Cloud Chamber" that follows it is almost non-existent and doesn't flow at all.

Lead single “SSRI Feel Better Already” remains a stellar track four months after it’s release, with an irresistibly catchy chorus and stellar guest guitar solo from Chancellor Reeder of the post-hardcore duo 09. The song starts one the heaviest stretches of the album both musically and lyrically, dealing with vocalist Chris Ratzlaff’s struggle with depression and mental health. The politically charged “When Justice Cracks The Sky” and “King Lazer” tackle social issues and racism while straddling the dangerous line of paralleling to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at the same time. It can be a bit off-putting at first but there’s a lot more lines in the latter song dealing with the crucifixion and the songs hit extremely hard musically. The songs combine 2010s metalcore and 90s hip-hop with an impressive vocal performance from Chris Ratzlaff, alternating between filthy screams and clean rapped vocals with ease.

Destined for radio play, “The Meaning In The Monster” and “Waiting” are the softest tracks on the album, breaking up the pace after the heaviest moments on the album. While slightly over-polished and predictable, they’re still solid songs with catchy hooks and great vocal performances, with the latter being a song I have consistently gone back to while they do fit significantly better in the album context than they do as individual singles. On the complete opposite spectrum of the album, “The Prism Glass' is the heaviest track on the entire album and my personal favorite track on the album, with djenty guitar riffs and the best drumming performance on the record. The song also has the catchiest chorus and some of the best lyrics on the album dealing with the depravity of man and the struggle of good and evil. “I exist somewhere in between the lion and the lamb / the cure and the disease / I exist somewhere in between the colors and the shapes / the heart and the brain.”

The title track “Sunbreather” and closing track “Darko” continue the alternative rock sound laid down earlier on in the album, with the title track being infectiously catchy with soaring melodies and a solid climax. The latter, however, feels a bit weak for a closer compared to the rest of the album despite being the culmination of the many different sounds of the record. It isn’t bad by any means, but it ends up being unfortunately forgettable on an experimental and incredibly unique record.

‘Sunbreather’ is a powerful and creative record that lands itself as the best in Fallstar’s discography, showcasing vast improvement in the band’s songwriting and performances and infectious choruses. Chris Ratzlaff sings his heart out on the album, tackling many important topics such as mental health and politics head on with unrelenting passion and vulnerability even on the album’s weaker tracks. Although there are moments where it fails to land (“Chroma”, for example), Fallstar managed to come back from a hiatus at the top of their game with loads of creativity and experimentation that pays off for the good of the album in most cases (“SSRI Feel Better Already” and “Cloud Chamber”) despite its flaws, it’s a solid album worth checking out if you are into rap-rock and post-hardcore and takes a few listens to get into.

Recent reviews by this author
Weezer OK HumanFit for a King Creation | Destruction
Fit for a King Descendants (Reissue)Broadside Into the Raging Sea
Red (USA) Of Beauty and RageRed (USA) Release the Panic
user ratings (10)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 23rd 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

I'm curious what you all think of the record, as most people seem to either love it or hate it, but seriously, this is a solid record if you ignore the opening track "Chroma"... I don't know how anyone thought it was a good idea to release that song as the first track, because it doesn't fit at all with the rest of the record and is completely atrocious. The album is so much better without it.

Digging: Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2021


Okay review, a lot of bones but not a lot of meat. The artwork needs a fix too.

--this is a solid record if you ignore the opening track "Chroma"... I don't know how anyone thought it was a good idea to release that song as the first track, because it doesn't fit at all with the rest of the record and is completely atrocious.--

You could have used this idea in your review, rather than the first comment. Why would've it been better without it? Rather than a brief mention in parenthesis at the tail of the review.

Digging: Stargazer (AUS) - Psychic Secretions

February 23rd 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

Hey Nocte, thanks for the heads up! I didn't originally put it in the review because I wrote the review initially for a different website and was given an advanced review copy from the record label for promotional purposes and since it was for promoting the record, I didn't want to bring a ton of attention to it. There wasn't a review for the album here, so I decided to post the review here too. I took your advice and just edited and reworded the first couple of paragraphs so that it mentions that. Hopefully that's a bit better. I probably should have written that part in before I posted it to Sputnik as well as tweaked some other things.

Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2021


Album Rating: 2.0

Noice review. I tried the first couple tracks of this, didn't seem like my kinda thing.

Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2021


--I probably should have written that part in before I posted it to Sputnik as well as tweaked some other things.--

All good, on reading my original comment it could be said I sound snippy/stand-offish (I'm not trying to be). I've just taken a break from work stuff to post one of my own reviews and relax on sput for a bit.
I understand the promo system, it's a good thing. If you don't mind I wouldn't be adverse to helping you out with your reviews. Better written reviews generally gather a better press reach and in turn more coverage for the bands/albums you're writing about.

Either way, consider this a late welcome to the site.

February 23rd 2021


Thought this said Fightstar

February 24th 2021


E R ?


February 26th 2021


I liked them more when they were a bit more black metal

March 2nd 2021


this first song sounds like one dude could play all the instruments by himself live

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy