Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter.

Written by: DR on 07/07/2011 20:09:13

It's usually customary for me to start a review of a 'scene' album by waffling on about the state of said 'scene', how watered down it is, and then listing some of the trends associated with it. But, I'm not going to do that here because, against all odds, I've actually managed to find some enjoyment in Fallstar's debut album, "Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter.", despite being a wannabe-pretentious git who likes to think he 'outgrew' the 'scene' long (year(s)) ago.

What I like about "Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter." is how it's a throwback to the something-core genre as it was all those months/year(s) ago, before the over-reliance on breakdowns, horror-chords and Joey Sturgis' production abilities. There are breakdowns, of course, but not because the band lack ideas, and you're not beaten to death with them; the production is solid, everything section of this band is clearly defined, and the vocals sound like they haven't been auto-tuned in the slightest.

It's their stubborn refusal to completely conform (relative to the genre) that makes this album interesting... but for the same reason, in at least one aspect, that holds this album back; we'll start with the bad: the vocals. Ranging from the deep-growling to the shrieking, the screamer sounds more whiny than he does tuneful. The screams don't carry any sort of punch, and often hinder the dual-vocal dynamic they're trying to establish. The clean vocals I'm torn over - on the one hand, there's very little melody or harmony there at all when the singer reaches for the higher notes, especially in choruses, which results in choruses in songs like "Reconciler" being forgettable - however, they do carry some degree of emotion, especially when he attempts to scream, resulting in a pretty sweet half-shouty/half-screamy characteristic that makes "Hunters" a good opening song.

Others may appreciate the vocals more, at least for not being manipulated in the production to unbelievable heights. What I think is best about Fallstar, though, is their approach to song-writing. No, I'm not referring to how every song is about God, but they're willingness to experiment enough to maintain some degree of variation between most songs. Although some songs do play closely to the sing/scream/breakdown format, efforts such as "Drunkaholics Anonymous" and "Windows" display the guitars at their ambient best - creating atmospheres like Oceana did so well on their debut "The Tide" - both of which last six minutes, with the latter containing a fantastic spoken-word passage that really compliments the airy musicianship.

Despite my criticisms of the vocals, they are real - a word not easily applied to music these days. The same can be said about the album as a whole; while some songs may lack the creativity to be interesting to anyone other than a die-hard fan of this band/style/genre, and other, more ambitious songs are almost fantastic, "Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter." is a promising debut that relies on genuine talent more than anything else.

Download: Hunters, Drunkaholics Anonymous, Windows
For The Fans of: Oceana's "The Tide", Underoath
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 29.03.2011
Come & Live

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