blessthefall may have been going through the motions previously, but sixth LP ‘Hard Feelings’ proves that the group still have a lot to offer. Invigorated and inspired, the record sees the group deliver ten tracks with a hunger usually reserved for up-and-coming acts.
Creeping in with synths and sporadic drums, ‘Wishful Sinking’ drags you into a barrage of angular riffs and rudiment filled drum patterns. Playing with the soft and harsh dynamic, the verse uses clean guitar notes and Beau Bokan‘s vocals to offset the erratic yet catchy chorus.
The dense instrumentation of the record is held together by Matt Traynor‘s percussive attack. Whether it’s the quick ambient change of ‘Find Yourself’ or the relentless chugging of ‘I’m Over Being Under (Rated)’, Traynor dictates each and every track.
‘Melodramatic’ sees the group move from a quiet to loud dynamic in favour of furious palm muting and ruthless breakdowns. The track doesn’t stop at being a mosh pit favourite, with lead guitarist Eric Lambert injecting melodic runs throughout the chorus.
Where the aforementioned ‘Melodramatic’ emphasised clean vocals, ‘Cutthroat’ takes an aggressive stance with growls and screams aplenty. Set around a loose groove, the track plays with the main motif, using overlapping sections and moving dynamics to retain interest.
Hiding in the second half of the album is ‘Sleepless In Phoenix’. The track begins unassumingly, relying on soft vocals and tentative finger picking, but as it runs through its chorus, the peaked energy continues on to the second verse and throughout. As it has been continually building, when it reaches the octave led bridge, the energy explodes to a chanted coda. Using overlapping vocals, “I know we can kiss the past goodbye” rings through moments after its climax.
The use of synthesisers is effective throughout the album, whether it’s the aggressive pulse found in ‘Cutthroat’, or the juddering synth and frantic lead guitar combination found in ‘Keep Me Close’.
Closer ‘Welcome Home’ takes on the unenviable objective of creating a passionate stadium filler, a bold task that the group successfully pull off. The emotional refrain of “It’s not living if I’m not living with you” is sung so convincingly that you can’t help but believe it.
‘Hard Feelings’ sees blessthefall taking all of their acquired and developed skills, and harnessing its very essence. With taking deviations along the way, the group have opened new avenues whilst still reminding us why we fell for them in the first place.