RATING: (7 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: March 29th, 2011 LABEL: Come and Live REVIEWED ON: August 19th, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Bryce CooleyREVIEW
Portland-based Fallstar is not your typical new school hardcore band. "After solidifying their lineup in the summer of 2008, the Portland based hardcore five piece set out to make a name for themselves beyond their local scene" (biography). Their music is simplified, stripped down, and reminiscent of Haste the Day (a la 2004-2005), mashed with ambient Rock N Roll--a suprising yet delectible feast for my ear lobes. Don't get me wrong. Fallstar isn't going to be on AP's most innovative hardcore acts of 2011, but what they deliver is everything that is needed for a fantastic hardcore album.
"Inspired lyrics, harsh and innovative sounds, an unmatched live show and the driving will to reach as many people for the Lord as possible is what sets Fallstar apart from the pack. (biography)." The heart of this band is heard through lyrics like "You swallowed waves that kept me pushing backwards, You changed my name and made me in your likeness, My heart once was cold but now it's pumping fire." With the message of God's protection, our new identity in Christ, and a new purpose of life, Fallstar is out to share the Gospel. They are doing so through well-crafted songs and an approachability in their live show in which everyone can feel a part of the experience.
What kept me listening to "Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter" was the constant suprises speckled throughout. Often I found aspects of songs that I didn't like: too punk, too slow, too repetetive--but out of nowhere they would bring in an a breakdown, a beat, or chant that quickly brought their song to the top of my replay list. A good example of this is the track "Reconciler." From ambient to heavy to sing-song rock, rinse and repeat, this song seems to be a standard track. But when that bridge hits, I can't help but get excited: "I have been.... RECONCILED! MY HANDS THEY LIFT TO PRAISE YOU!" It's these moments where Chris Ratzlaff's vocals and gutteral screams and vocal intensity come together in a slew of awesomeness that could match any New Orleans' jambalaya.
"If what these men do is of God, you will never be able to stop them." The Battle Cry opening my second favorite track on R.R.I. "Lurchers" is actually a direct quotation for Acts 5:39 (Check it!). The Gospel has been resisted since the beginning; this song challenges us as believers to go forward despite opposition. "I WILL NEVER EVER STOP!" Will you stop when you are faced with opposition? God has erased our old names, given us new ones. He has refined us as pure gold. What will we do with it? I'm with Fallstar: I will never ever stop!
Don't let the rating of 7 fool you. This album is worth every penny. I have listened to it multiple times just to get my Fallstar fix of the day. It's a great album. It may not be on AP's innovative list, but if AP had a top 10 "breath of fresh air" bands, Fallstar would surely be at the top. In a world of over-produced, auto-tune, 808-driven hardcore, Fallstar brings us back to our hardcore roots. Let me just say nostalgia is a wonderful thing.