Monday, 11 February 2013

ALBUM: FALL CITY FALL - VICTUS

The fine lines between hardcore punk, post hardcore and metalcore have been obscured within the last decade, predominantly thanks to the attempts by pigeonholed bands to free themselves of categorisation. So, you have hardcore bands positioning themselves as DIY punk rock, post hardcore acts aspiring to lose the ‘post’ (in an attempt to dodge association with the emo-end of the post hardcore spectrum), and metalcore bands refusing the crossover tag in a bid to keep the metal-heads onside. 

The most positive outcome from all this musical rejigging is the slew of bands that have just embraced all three subgenres, instead of worrying about what they are and aren’t. Canada’s Fall City Fall are one of these bands. Fall City Fall are: hardcore punk, post hardcore and metalcore. Signed to the legendary but largely inconsistent Victory Records, Fall City Fall are an extreme rock band made of five young members, including not one but two vocalists. ‘Victus’ is their Victory debut, and it’s half an hour of intense, penetrating hardcore, laced with occasional melody, intricate time signatures and bruising breakdowns. 

Opener ‘St. James’ serves as a short, slow-burning but brutal introduction, before the Every Time I Die influenced ‘Dissentipede’ kicks in with its vocal swagger and frenetic metalcore riffing. The majority of ‘Victus’ follows a similar, winning formula: fast-paced riffing and punk rock drums effortlessly glide into phases of progressive noodlings or post hardcore melody, before or after a Hatebreed-heavy breakdown. Tracks like ‘Anxiety Attack’ and ‘Shallow Believer’ showcase Fall City Fall’s advanced ability to create angry and technical hardcore music, with the latter featuring some hectic Dillinger Escape Plan-esque noise. Only ‘Many Lives’ offers a brief period of calm, but with its haunting prog guitar lines, the instrumental is more eerie than soothing. 

The record highlights come in the form of the impressive closing couplet: ‘Taken’ and ‘Victus’. ‘Taken’ is a slow, controlled moment of chaos, starting with quiet guitars and screamed vocals, progressively getting heavier and fuller, with an escalating, piercing siren sound adding menace in the background. Think a mini version of Converge’s title track from ‘Jane Doe’. The closing title track is an amalgamation of soaring post hardcore and crashing breakdowns, with pained screams and moments of guitar melody, reminiscent of The Bled circa ‘Pass The Flask’. 

The dual vocals of Zorn and Pylychaty are visceral and oddly complementary. The low-end growls are heavier than most hardcore vocal performances, while the screamed segments carry a bit of Frank Carter’s impassioned cries during his time fronting Gallows – the sound of unrestrained violence, conveyed all the more convincingly because you can comprehend the lyrics through the noise. Intermittent moments of pained vocal melody come in the form of the now commonplace off-key whine (à la Daryl Palumbo, Keith Buckley, Jason Butler). Fitting, but uninspired. 

Nonetheless, Fall City Fall have crafted a near-perfect debut record. Brutal but accessible, it’s crowd-pleasing in their inclusion of headbanging breakdowns, and progressive in their use of innovative mathcore and melody. Personally, I rank ‘Victus’ alongside the modern masterpieces by Converge (‘All We Love We Live Behind’), Letlive. (‘Fake History’) and Vision Of Disorder (‘The Cursed remain Cursed’) for sheer passion, but also for successfully bridging hardcore, post hardcore and metalcore without pretentious mutations of the subgenres’ – um – cores. Absolutely thrilling stuff. // Fall City Fall // Victory Records

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