Posted June 25, 2013
If there is one band that I am excited about right now it is Fallstar. Formerly of Come & Live Records, the band recently signed with Facedown Records at the end of January and then subsequently released their debut album, Backdraft, with the label in April. The Portland, Oregon natives are one of metalcore's finest new bands with the work ethic and sound to make it to the top.
Backdraft opens with the intro track, "Malbec Blood," which is one of my favorite intro songs on a metal album in awhile. The last one that grabbed my attention as much was "Without Walls" on Memphis May Fire's 2012 release, Challenger. Ironically, Matty Mullins, vocalist of MMF, is featured on the very next track, "Shallow Believer." The song, while being the first single from the record, is also one of the strongest tracks on Backdraft. Vocally the song shows off Chris Ratzlaff's fantastic unclean vocals, which I would describe as leaning more towards the guttural side as opposed to the usual metalcore trend of having very high unclean vocals.
"El Rey" is where I believe we are first really introduced to the fantastic clean vocals this band has to offer. I love the great mixture of heaviness and melodicism on this track. "Drags, Drugs and Bones" follows with what may be my favorite song of 2013 so far. I think the moment the track really clicked for me was when I saw the video for it on YouTube. Whereas "El Rey" was a great mixture of heaviness and melodicism, "Drags, Drugs and Bones" is the perfect mixture of the two. Vocally the song is on point with the absolute best unclean vocals the record has to offer, as well as of course great clean vocals. The part that set me over the edge though is about 2:30 into the track when Cody Carrier has his drum solo. Sonically this song is as palatable as I have heard in a long time.
Fallstar decided to go a little different route with the fifth track than most metalcore bands would dare to go by doing a song almost completely comprised of clean vocals. (Memphis May Fire also did this with their track, "Miles Away," on Challenger.) I said at one point, I think it was on Twitter, that what separates a good album from a great one, for me, is the lyrical content. The album I had in mind when I said that was Challenger which has been a huge source of inspiration and help when I need a crutch to lean on; and I feel like this is another way in which Backdraft is like Challenger. (I promise this will be the end of my comparison between the two bands, because I know you are not here to read about Memphis May Fire, but Fallstar.) The lyrics on this record are a little more mysterious than most bands out there today, because they were written to be interpreted and not so much to be understood the first time through - that is what I love about the lyrics. Not only are they great lyrics, but they have to be delved into in order to fully understand their meaning.
"The Valley" is probably one of my favorite tracks, lyrically, on Backdraft. I love the lines in the song where it says, "My God if you have found me, let me see your face. It's not safe, but it's so good...Turn me inside out cause I'm just a shell of a man." Next up, "Alexandria 363" brings out the heavy side of Fallstar. This is easily the heaviest track on the album from the instrumentals - which are much more technical than on the rest of the record - to the vocals which sound a lot more like death metal vocals than metalcore. "In Our Blood" is probably one of the weakest tracks on the record. It seems almost flat during the chorus and the riffs feel recycled from some of the previous tracks. The intensity and emotion of the song are what redeem the song though.
"Eclipse" is a very interesting filler song which clocks in at just under a minute. I take back my previous statement that "Alexandria 363" is the heaviest track on Backdraft, this is easily the heaviest on the album (but "Alexandria 363" is the heaviest full-length song). "The New World" is another one of my favorite songs as far as the drums go. I don't know why, but I really have this thing for drums lately. I have been air-drumming all the time, so I have definitely been noticing drums a lot more often in songs. The drums on this song are fantastic. The album finishes up with the song "Set My Face Like Flint," which is one of my favorite concluding tracks to an album I have heard in a very long time. It is an incredible way to end Backdraft.
Fallstar is one of those bands that I am very psyched for their future. Backdraft is an album that I cannot stop listening to. I always come back and listen to at least a couple tracks a day. Sonically these guys have it, they have the work ethic to push themselves to the top, and lead-singer Chris Ratzlaff definitely has the hair for it. (Seriously, you should check out his awesome hair.) This is my favorite metalcore album in a very long time and I look forward to the day that I can see them live. I have a feeling the guys in Fallstar put on one incredible show.
Favorite Song: Drags, Drugs and Bones
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