Blessthefall Ė Hollow Bodies
Record Label: Fearless Records
Release Date: August 20 2013
Evolution when it comes to a band/artistís sound can be a really interesting thing, especially depending on the genre the band/artist is in. There are very few genres where itís quite easy to expand and progress, but sadly, one of those isnít post-hardcore/metalcore. This genre has been notorious for basically spawning a million bands who sound exactly the same, and itís not the genreís fault, per se. Itís just that bands are trend-hopping, basically. Very few bands in the genre are realizing that itís getting stale, although thatís what sells. Well, enter Arizona metalcore/post-hardcore act Blessthefall. Theyíve been around for quite some time, at least the last ten years or so, and in terms of the genre, thatís about twenty years. Most bands come and go within a few years, but Blessthefall is an interesting case, because theyíre still going. Theyíre four records into their career, most recently with fourth record (and third with Fearless) Hollow Bodies. Iíve been a fan of the band since 2007 with debut record His Last Walk, but Iíve lost touch with them over the years, especially since 2011ís Awakening. Thatís the last time I really listened to the band, and while I enjoyed the record, it was more or less the same compared to sophomore record Witness, which was the debut record of current vocalist Beau Boken. Awakening featured some progressive rock elements, along with some experimental sounds as well, and it was a bit different, but it was more or less the same. To put it bluntly, Hollow Bodies is the record Blessthefall needed to make. Itís much more aggressive, yet still retains a melodic sound, which I like a lot. Is it perfect? Of course not, there are some things that bother me about this album, but theyíre not enough to really hinder my listening experience. The main things that bug me about are things that plague the genre anyway; generic clean choruses, breakdowns galore, lyrics that are quite boring, or just songs that donít do anything for me.
It may seem at first glance this record is something that I would avoid, and Iíll admit I was almost going to avoid this record, but the price I bought it for was good, so I decided to not pass it up. Iím glad I didnít, because it is an interesting record. Despite the flaws it has, they are not major. They do exist, but the main thing it has going for it is that itís certainly different from the bandís last two records. Not to mention, it also features a few really solid guest spots. Most post-hardcore and metalcore bands have to have at least one or two guest spots from other vocalists or singers in the genre, and surprisingly, they got some really good vocalists, them being Jake Luhrs (of August Burns Red), Jesse Barnett (of Stick to Your Guns), and Bokenís wife, Lights. It makes sense she would appear, and sheís the ďodd one out,Ē so to speak, considering her genre is more on the lighter side, which is fine with me, because my favorite genres are pop, pop-rock, R&B, pop-punk, etc. She does very well on the song she appears on as well, which is last track ďOpen Waters.Ē Thatís also the longest song, at about 7 minutes, and Iíll get to that later on. I do have mixed feelings on these guest spots, even though I just said I like them, because I love the bands (except for Lights, she never really did much for me) the vocalists are apart of (and August Burns Red released one of my favorite albums of the year), but theyíre not used interestingly enough. Because of everything else going on, I could barely hear them in the background. Maybe Iím not listening to the record closely enough, but they werenít used to their advantage. Thatís not to say theyíre awful, because like I said, I love the bands two of the vocalists are apart of, but aside from Lights, they werenít all that distinguishable to me.
Since Iíve been talking about the things I donít like about the record, letís talk about things I do like, and to put it bluntly, itís the overall sound of the record. I know, I know, I basically bashed the record for having some generic elements, and it does, but there are some really interesting songs and moments on the album. The first appears right in the beginning of opening track ďExodus.Ē Right in the first minute, itís clear that the members of the band have gotten a lot better at playing their instruments. They werenít bad before, but the instrumentation is a lot more solid here. Coupled with some really cool electronic/synth riffs, itís even more interesting. While Iím not too crazy about the screams on this record, Bokanís vocals are quite solid on this record, though, even though they are a bit too high for my tastes, but not enough to the point where they get grating. He does use a lot of generic clean choruses, but itís forgivable. There are more interesting moments, aside from the opening track, and a few of these moments appear in the title track, fifth track ďBuried In These Walls,Ē seventh track ďYoungbloods,Ē ninth track ďCarry On,Ē and closing track ďOpen Water.Ē The title track is one of the most aggressive songs on the record, and it shows what the band is capable of. Itís one of the more instrumentally impressive tracks as well. ďBuried In These WallsĒ is a softer song, which I really like, because it showcases a more melodic side of the band. Itís certainly one of the more memorable tracks on the record. The last three tracks I mentioned are ones that have the recordís guest spots in them, as I was going into great detail earlier. The first two arenít really amazing songs, but theyíre memorable in the sense that theyíre quite aggressive, and breakdown heavy tracks. If you love your metalcore heavy and relentless, look no further than these tracks. ďOpen Water,Ē however, is the longest song on the record at 7 minutes, but itís also one of the most interesting songs, too. Itís a rather melodic track, and Lightsí contribution is actually memorable and doesnít fade into the background. There are some strings that accompany this track, and it also makes it stand out a bit. Itís a great closer, needless to say. The whole record, on the other hand, isnít great, but itís not horrible, either. Itís a solid album, especially for the genre itís in. I mentioned in the beginning that this is the record Blessthefall needed to make, and while I truly agree with that, this still isnít perfect. I will say this is their best album to date, however, even if itís not perfect. Itís worth a listen or two, though, especially if you are a fan of the genre, or of the band themselves.