Blessthefall

Witness

Written by: BL on 23/01/2010 18:51:46

Okay this has been long overdue and I know some of you out have been longing to see this review (hey TL), so here it is at long last. Blessthefall were, at least in my eyes, one of the key players in popularising the lastest trend of the heavier tier post-hardcore that incorporate a far more metallic edge over the last two years or so. Ever since front man Craig Mabbit departed from the band in late 2007 most worried no one suitable would be able to step into his shoes to replace him and the band would become soon forgotten. So in came Beau Bokan, formerly of Take The Crown, to step up and now the band have put out arguably one of the best releases within the genre of the year (last year anyway). This is blessthefall as you've always known them, only slicker, more polished, more refined and frankly just stronger. This is made clear from the go as the album kicks off with the short but sweet "2.0" that is really only there to deliver the message that the band is back and "not dead".

If there was one thing I disliked about "His Last Walk" (the previous album), it was Craig Mabbit's wobbly clean vocals that repeatedly hit so many flat notes it got unbearably cringe worthy and in my opinion ruined a lot of the songs. True that the screams which are now mostly handled by the bassist Jared (and a few from Beau) sound a bit more monotone and mid ranged compared to Craig's guttural growls and high pitched screams - the clean vocals from Beau are just so much better sounding in every way if you ask me. Not only that but "Witness" contains so many ridiculously catchy and sing-along choruses it would be a shame to not mention almost every song (but just take "What's Left Of Me", "God Wears Gucci" and "Stay Still" as some of the better cases). Poppy choruses only make up half the story however as a lot of the songs still have a fairly heavy sound just in case any of you were worried the band was turning soft. Also consider that Beau is still developing his screaming technique so we may be in store for even better screamed sections in the future hopefully anyway.

Moving onto the instrumentals you have some blistering guitar riff work from Eric Lambert and Mike Frisby (some of the speedy stuff is just delicious despite not being even that technical). The pair also construct numerous delicate melodies ("To Hell & Back" and "We'll Sleep When We're Dead" being prime examples) to be torn apart by earth shattering breakdowns - which aren't even that heavy surprisingly and thankfully don't really appear usually more than once per song. Then there's the driven rhythm sections full of rich layering, some complex dynamics and harmonies and finally cleverly worked progressions that don't involve having to insert horror chords every few seconds mindlessly or yet another breakdown (like so many young bands trying to hop onto the bandwagon these days). One even soon realises that instead of trying to rewrite the book of rules these guys helped create in the first place, they've just decided to come in and write solid, wholesome, and energetic songs to leave you hooked and wanting for more instead. This does mean that you should not expect anything out of the genre to creep in if you're well experienced with music from similar sounding bands. The production is thick and surprisingly a little raw with an edge of graininess about everything (except the drums which are sharp as a razor), which actually helps especially with the heavier sections in particular - adding more beef and low end to cause almost a rumble effect whenever the guitars hit those open strings.

There isn't too much for me really to criticise the album negatively except just the screaming department could use with a bit more diversity and a stronger voice. But this is only a minor deterrent considering how many times I've played the album through from start to finish (the emotive closer "Stay Still" still sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it). Sure it may not be pushing boundaries and exploring new organic realms like UnderOATH, it may not be deliriously technical as The Word Alive, or have any catchy euro synths for a neon dance party like Attack Attack! or Asking Alexandria (nor as many cookie cutter brootal breakdowns), but I just simply like this album for what it is. It's fun to listen, easy to pick up and sing along to, and can fuel your angst when you feel like breaking some furniture as well. If you enjoy catchy post-hardcore, you shouldn't miss out on this.

Download: "God Wears Gucci", "Hey Baby, Here's That Song You Wanted", "Stay Still"
For the fans of: The Word Alive, A Skylit Drive, In Fear and Faith, Drop Dead, Gorgeous, Greeley Estates
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.10.2009
Fearless Records

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