Fallstar – Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter.
Record label: Come & Live
Release date: March 29th, 2011
Fallstar was one of the first named bands to label Come&Live Records. The label is well known for its heavy Christian message. They are also known, and probably more commonly, because they offer all their music for free download. They truly believe that bands can use this as a ministry to reach out to people. Fallstar definitely fit that mold as the band's lyrics are littered with messages of their faith. “Drunkaholics Anonymous” is a song that asks “How can we lose ourselves?” talking about letting the Spirit of God take over completely. If you listen closely midway through the song you can hear the story of a girl and her first experience of being “drunk” in the Spirit. The band truly place God first in their music, you can hear the passion in the lyrics and in each song, so it seemed appropriate to focus on that right away.
As for the album “Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter.” is a strong debut from a band that seems they haven't totally focused on a sound. Throughout the album the closest band I can liken them to is Memphis May Fire. Most tracks have a little bit of southern rock hidden in them, however briefly. The opening track “Hunters” showcases all the band's talents. The album opens with a guitar solo leading into a breakdown followed by screaming vocals traded off between vocalist Chris Ratzlaff and guitarist Jason Brown, which seems to be a staple throughout the album. The band employ high pitched screeches, gutteral growls, melodic clean vocals, and everything in between.
The first half of the album seems to follow the sing, scream, breakdown pattern while the band seem more comfortable when they're in a straight rock'n'roll groove. The screams do add a bit of flavor on top. However, the album takes a turn starting with “Saratoga Springs”. The song sounds a bit like a b-side from Showbread's “No Sir, Nihilism...” or “Age of Reptiles”. The vocals take a bit of a new shape in preparation for the band's track “Drunkaholics Anonymous”. This song starts with a bit of southern rock sound then comes to a melodic quiet chant of “How can we lose ourselves?” backed by the story of the girl listed in the beginning of the review. This leads to anthemic gang vocals as the music picks up to a conclusion as the voices continue singing that same line. “Face the Floor” is littered with screamed vocals reminiscent of shrieks of Daniel Weyandt of Zao.“Contortionist” seems to get back to that same sound of the first half of the album, however it ends with a surprising quiet acoustic section that doesn't even sound like a part of the song.
The album's closer “A Whisper in the Breeze” is probably the standout track of the album. The band opens the song with much of the same sound and follows with a very long breakdown, after which the band return to the sound from the opening. At about 2:45 into the track, it completely switches gears and you hear a guitar riff which sounds like it belongs on Underoath's “Define the Great Line” accompanied by spoken lyrics eventually leading the song to a close. The lyrics of the song are well crafted as the first half of the song is from God's perspective calling out telling us all He's done for us and inviting us to come to Him for rest. The lyrics shift gears in the second half of the song as it tells the story of a boy who cannot accept the love of God because of all the things wrong in his life. He doesn't know how someone could love him without expecting something in return. As the track reaches it's end the lyrics switch back to God as he begs the boy to come to him and promises He will never leave him.
The band lean heavily on rock tendencies at times, however, it is the sprinkling of breakdowns and screams, the surprising guitar riffs or gang vocals that seem to sneak up on you, and the passion and drive this band gains from their faith that make this album more than simply another rock album. For a debut full length this is a strong release and I would expect Fallstar to go on to bigger and better things as they hone their skills and focus on a sound.
Yeah, if you see from this point... Perhaps it's enough for a cliché hardcore album... I heard it and it's really obvious, the songs are all look-alike, you know? I think he said too much about the record without having many things to tell.