By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Metalcore has been on the forefront, as one of the most dominating heavy metal genres today. Through its uses of breakdowns and heavy guitar riffs that were usually tuned to Drop D or A, metalcore has enjoyed a good amount of success in the music world. Many metal groups today have flocked to this sound, some being; Parkway Drive, All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, and Bullet For My Valentine. Another band that has swept metal off its feet, with its metalcore beat, is Scottsdale, Ariz., own Blessthefall. After 5 albums of screamo intensity, they continue to move in a direction they started, to venture off their previous effort, To Those Left Behind. That being said, I present to the fans Hard Feelings. Their first album with Rise Records, Blessthefall attempts to show off their musical maturity with this LP.
Diving right into the album with the opener, “Wishful Sinking,” I could hear an evolution in Beau Bokan’s voice. The charismatic frontman is much mellower in his approach to the mic, but there are times he maintains his ferocity, when he screams to the top of his lungs. However, I did not really believe his anger when he sings the chorus to “Melodramatic.” He sounded more annoyed than angry with the lyrics, “I need the anger/I need the rage.” Do not get me wrong, he is a fabulous singer as well as yeller. He also does nice work when goes to his keyboard. Their music draws into the world of cutthroat metalcore and melodic post-hardcore. Drummer Matt Traynor has got some speed on the snares and cymbals, raising the songs its pulse. He is as precise as he is swift on the drums; the backbone to Blessthefall.
After downplaying the noise with the mid-tempo “Feeling Low,” the volume gets cranked all the way up, with “Cutthroat,” probably their most vicious off Hard Feelings. Bokan jumps back and forth, releasing the lion in him, as well as taming it. Eric Lambert is smoking on lead guitar; generating screeching solos. Rhythm guitarist Elliot Gruenberg is at his best when creating some awesome guitar riffs that can cross between melancholy and fierceness. Bassist/vocalist Jared Warth does a bang up job spawning intense bass licks.
Lyrically, I feel they are some of the most heavy-hearted lyrics constructed by Blessthefall. In the ballad “Sleepless in Phoenix,” they delve into the heartache of past relationships; knowing that things will not be the same again. This song is like a wrenching poem for anybody who is in pain from this topic. As soon as “Keep Me Close” enters my mind, I am consumed by both Gruenberg and Lambert’s chaotic fingering on the guitar strings. The lyrics are haunting yet very attractive at the same time. With “Sakura Blues,” you feel helpless at the moment, but know that you can overcome it. “Welcome Home” was the best way to end this record, with its atmospheric, guitar-driven anthem, that could fill an arena, and Lambert comes out on top with his glorified solo. It ends on a sweet note when a young toddler, who might be Bokan’s daughter, says the chorus one last time with her father right beside her. That was a heartfelt moment for father and daughter.
Overall, I would have to say that Hard Feelings was an enjoyable experience to listen to. While I prefer Blessthefall when they are in screamo mode, and I feel they go down a pop punk/rock mode too much, this record shows that they’re coming along, to show the world that they are more than just screams and blistering licks. I believe it may divide the fans a bit, but there is something in here for everyone to love. Bokan and Warth do a splendid job trading words, as if two halves of someone’s conscience is dishing it out for superiority. They wrote powerful lyrics to go along with powerful music. I cannot wait to see them play it live. To Blessthefall, I salute you. Horns up!!! 8.3/10
01. Wishful Sinking
02. Find Yourself
04. Feeling Low
06. I’m Over Being Under(rated)
07. Sleepless in Phoenix
08. Keep Me Close
09. Sakura Blues
10. Welcome Home
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