Blessthefall’s latest work To Those Left Behind doesn’t stray far from already-claimed musical territory but does show sides of the band that previously hadn’t been explored. It’s during these moments that the album especially shines. While the heavier moments in songs such as ‘ol faithful album opener “Decayer” and the frenetic title track successfully expand upon previous album Hollow Bodies thrasher August Burns Red-esque moments it’s the amount of dynamic the band are provided by the inclusion of electronics and ambient sections that really shows just how far the musicians can expand their soundscape.
“Keep What We Love And Burn The Rest” is perhaps the most solid example of straying from the usual metalcore path, opting for an R&B outline that is later shaded in with spooky implements of heaviness provided by the guitar. This track and 30 Seconds To Mars-esque alternative rocker “Dead Air” both aim to prove that singer Beau Bokan can reach new heights and indeed he does, “Dead Air” utilizing a number of key changes but still employing the standard BTF speed and energy. Album closer “Departures” however, gets so emotional that the instruments dial back halfway through for a piano build-up bridge accompanied by Matt Traynor’s compelling skinsmanship that shows a reflective side of Bokan as he sings “Don’t you cry now, go to sleep.” directed at his f. The usage of screams reserves itself for only necessary occasions, “Walking On Water”‘s affecting echoed outro shouts for help especially powerful.
The standard clean-scream scream-clean formula is something BTF have stuck with for years now and somehow they still keep it fresh, credit due to the excellent timing of bassist/screamer Jared Wrath whose spotlight is shown in “Against The Waves” punk hardcore flavors. Credit is equally due to the contrast between verses and the chorus, usually opting for a duality of the heavy and fast and light and ambient or vice versa. The horror movie-based lyricism throughout offers differing perspectives from several iconic characters in addition to emotional expressions from both vocalists. Eric Lambert (who throws in a few vocals!) and Elliot Gruernberg are more of a competent guitar duo than they’re credited as, occasionally settling into a ridiculously original rhythm (“Looking Down From The Edge”) and exploring the tried-and-true art of shredding (“Up In Flames”). This expansion of sound is overall praise-worthy, even if a little on the trendy side at times. Slight slip-ups in unnecessarily-included choruses and rhythmic similarities from song-to-song are gripes to be made but only slightly.
Blessthefall are successfully a band who are showing that metalcore can be modernized and refreshed. Though they utilize a stark few ideas that their peers have already explored it’s a valid argument that BTF only continue to improve what many claim to be a dying formula. Those in the market for a reliable metalcore release shouldn’t look much further.