The Fall Of Troy

In The Unlikely Event

Written by: PP on 12/01/2010 06:06:08

The more time that passes since my review of "Manipulator" over two years ago, the more I've become convinced that it's significantly weaker than any other The Fall Of Troy output to date. Sure, it was the artistic high point of their career (discounting "Phantom On The Horizon" of course) and it had a couple of awesome tracks, but as a whole it lacked the erratic punch of "Doppelgänger" and the raw, spastic insanity of the debut album, leading me to believe I overrated the record by at least a full grade or so. The arrival of "In The Unlikely Event" only makes those feelings stronger, because if this was ice hockey and you'd count both EPs in addition to the full lengths, then "Manipulator" would undeniably be relegated to second line. Yeah, the Winter Olympics are fast approaching, and I'm Finnish, expect more similar bad analogies in the next few weeks.

In reality, "In The Unlikely Event" should've been the album following "Doppelgänger" and preceding "Manipulator", because it's located exactly at the halfway point between the two albums. It would've been the perfect logical continuation and a small enough next step from "Doppelgänger" instead of the mammoth leap forward the band took, which puzzled a whole bunch of fans. So what has changed? For starters, the impossible virtuoso scales of "Doppelgänger" make a welcome return. I believe I'm not alone in having missed the bizarre and wholly erratic behaviour of Erak's unpredictable guitar lines, which split and discharge in every direction seemingly based on Erak's current mood - and the forecast for today is a great deal of mood swings, baby. I believe impossible is the word you're looking for in frustration while trying to learn these songs on guitar.

Opener "Panic Attack!" gives the "Manipulator"-era fans a soft landing to the album with a clean guitar production and no screaming, it's primary function being to prepare the listener for one of the best The Fall Of Troy songs since "I Just Got This Symphony Goin'": "Straight-Jacket Keelhauled". Not only does the song explode in your face from second one, but I think mental hospital consideration isn't too far out for Erak judging from his deranged scream and the hardcore punk meets technical wizardry of the sort you can't even imagine that the track offers to the listener. "Battleship Graveyard" then contrasts the two, starting off like many "Doppelgänger" songs, with intricate, dynamic guitar leads (to say that the song has a lead 'riff' isn't possible) and a nice verse melody, later on developing into a desperate screamfest at just the right timing to make the song. Insert a technical breakdown (TFOT being the only band I know who can deliver one), and some more psychotic screaming, and you have a sequence that cries out loud "original scene", before the term was ruined by the stupid fashion show we know it's riddled with today.

So TFOT is off to an incredibly strong start because up 'til about track five, "Single", every song has been more or less mind blowing. But for some inexplicable reason, the band fails to capitalize on the momentum and start stumbling somewhat with a section plagued by an overuse of pop elements, where it feels like the band is playing it safe instead of letting all hell loose in a passage that could easily have culminated in the best material of their entire career. But The Fall Of Troy being The Fall Of Troy, they just stumble and never actually fall down, because even when the band utilizes more traditional song structures and less complicated guitars, Erak's vocal harmonies are able to carry the songs on their own. The six minute prog piece "People And Their Lives" is a good example of that. The okay-but-slightly-disappointing stuff continues until the lone highlight of the proggy second half of the record, "Webs", sweeps the carpet from underneath the listener in a similar style as "Quarter Past" on the previous album. It completes a fusion of sound from track five onwards that has included nuances from Portugal. The Man's more experimental early output as well as The Mars Volta's telepathic Latino-prog rock. It's one of the tracks of 2009 you shouldn't miss under any circumstance. The track seems to re-energize the band for some sort of a grand finalé, where the band finishes off with a couple more superb signature cuts that remind us why we fell in love with TFOT in the first place.

In summary, I'd say that "In The Unlikely Event" is an example of exactly two things: one, that breathtaking instrumentalism does not always a great song make, and two, when it does, what you're listening to is nothing short of incredible. I realize that's a polarising statement, but it's the most effective way of describing this album to both a fan an non-fan alike. Whichever you are, you should come into this album expecting some of the best experimental post-hardcore / progressive music since "Doppelgänger" - but with the precondition that not every song is going to stop you in your tracks.


Download: Straight-Jacket Keelhauled, A Classic Case Of Transference, Webs
For the fans of: The Mars Volta, The Blood Brothers, O! The Joy, Portugal. The Man
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.10.2009
Equal Vision Records

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