Even blessthefall themselves admit it’s been a rough ride in the last couple of years since the release of To Those Left Behind in 2015 and they’ve struggled to get back where they want to be. If Hard Feelings is anything to go by, their extensive touring routes of late will have paid off entirely.
Frontman Beau Bokan has said that signing to Rise Records has felt like rejuvenating the band entirely, and by opening it up with Wishful Sinking, it immediately shows off the vocal talents of both Bokan on cleans and bassist Jared Warth screaming. With a similar vocal style to past releases, it is clear to hear the progression the band have taken – it does not feel like closing the book to open a new one as some bands do, but more ending the chapter and the story becoming far more intense. Industrial electronics take the track to the next level though; the metalcore feel can become dull in the modern market, and the influence of experienced producers Tyler Smith, Matt Good and Howard Benson has helped them come to life. Moving straight into Find Yourself, the electronic motion is pushed home with an explosive drop of instruments that demonstrates the fusion beautifully.
From a choppy electronic introduction, album highlight Cutthroat bursts out of nowhere to become one of the heaviest verses blessthefall have put out in years. Fast-paced, packed with furious screams interspersed with pop-fuelled verses and emotional strip-back sections, the song displays the confidence they have snatched back with a vengeance. A technical, fast and all round vitriolic breakdown is the gem within this gem though; signalled only by a scream of “you should know this is cutthroat”, the guitars and drums break into a pandemonium that will open pits in fractions of a second. You’ll have to hear it below to believe quite how good it is (around the 2:05 mark).
Throughout the whole album, the heart and soul that went into the record is clear. Bokan’s sweeping melodies soar over the fusion of genres in the band behind him, backed up immaculately by Warth’s screams. While the guitars are performed pretty immaculately, drummer Matt Traynor has to get a special mention – some of his best work to date is shown off in Cutthroat and Feeling Low that show he truly is at the top of the drumming game, now more than ever before.
Overall, a real return to form for the Arizona bunch. These new songs are set to seamlessly slot into the live setlist while the new feel will be sure to make the upcoming tours more bouncy than ever before.