blessthefall - Awakening
Record Label: Fearless
Release Date: October 4, 2011
There are two types of listeners: listeners who like to hear progression from album to album and listeners who like to hear more of the same. Most listeners fall under the former category, but fans of Phoenix, AZ’s blessthefall probably fall in the latter category. Almost exactly two years after the release of Witness, blessthefall have released their third studio album, titled Awakening. Instead of feeling like a separate album with a separate identity, Awakening feels more like Witness part 2; that is not a bad thing because Witness is a great album, and Awakening is even better. What is not a particularly good thing is the lyricism. It is only slightly improved from Witness, but it is obvious that the band tried harder this time around. Listeners of the genre should listen to Awakening, regardless of how critical I sound.
The opening title track, "Awakening," is almost just like Witness's opening"2.0," except this time frontman Beau Bokan sings instead of screaming vocalist Jared Warth taking over. The next two songs are nothing too special, but when the unforgettable track "I'm Bad News, in the Best Way" comes on—which is one of the best songs on the album—the band is at its absolute best. Bokan's singing paired with the melodic guitars in the chorus is undeniably the best part of blessthefall. Speaking of melodic guitars, the band’s musicianship has improved since Witness. Maybe it’s because blessthefall have recruited a new guitarist—Elliott Gruenberg, formerly of Legacy and Before Their Eyes. Drummer Matt Traynor has gotten better over the past two years as well, inputting a little double bass this time around (“Don’t Say Goodbye”).
blessthefall have always succeeded at creating highly catchy songs, as “40 Days,” “Undefeated,” and “Don’t Say Goodbye,” as well as the other song I mentioned earlier, are the best tracks on this record. They are all filled with melody and passion with terrific choruses. Also add the album’s closer, “Meet Me at the Gates,” to that collection. Clocking in at seven minutes and twenty-three seconds, this is the longest song Bokan has worked on yet. It is an arguably better closing song than Witness’ closing track, “Stay Still.” The song ends with a little bit of piano, and it reminds me of As I Lay Dying’s An Ocean Between Us’ closer, “This Is Who We Are.” Speaking of As I Lay Dying, front man Tim Lambesis was supposed to be on this album, but it turns out that this is not the case. Not to say that Tim is not a bad vocalist (he is a terrific but extremely underrated vocalist), but his vocals blended in with blessthefall’s style would not work out.
Although Awakening has top-notch production and musicianship, the lyrics are anything but. Taken from the album’s first single, “Bottomfeeder,” Bokan sings the following line: “We gave our lives for this / It's all we have / It's all we'll ever know / We sacrificed for this / When it's said and done, we'll have our scars to show.” He sings the piece in melody, but it is as vague and cliché as it gets with lyrics from a post-hardcore band, although I must admit that their efforts are getting better. Musicianship wise, the band is still not doing anything innovative—the band still does way too many breakdowns, but thankfully the rest of the musicianship has improved on this release. As mentioned before, the guitars and drums—aside from the vocals— are the single best thing about blessthefall. What I found weird was a lack of Warth’s screamed vocals. I did not care for them in Witness, and I still don’t care for them. Thankfully, these vocals are used sparingly in Awakening and do not disturb the rest of the album.
blessthefall have done it again and released another great post-hardcore album. While this is better than their sophomore release, these guys still have a little more work to do to beat the rest of their competitors (I am looking at you, TDWP). Although they can improve a little more on their lyricism and work on the slower parts of their songs, Awakening is a great album that fans of the genre and blessthefall need to invest their time in.
I felt like there was quite a bit of double bass on Witness. Also, when you say "Not to say he's not a bad vocalist," the actual meaning of that phrase is that he IS a bad vocalist (the dude from AILD).
With Tim, I agree with his assessment that it wouldn't have gone well. Plus, after having him on Dead Throne, they probably figured people would whine they were copying TDWP, and Tim was apparently busy adopting a kid at the same time.
I agree I wasn't a big fan of Witness. I don't blame the double bass, haha, but I like this one more.
Then I won't say that this is less well-executed. I think the guitar is a step up, and I love when it gets featured throughout. The clean vocals might be a little worse, but I think the varied screaming is an improvement.
Overall, I think the score of the review is abotu how I feel, maybe a tick too high, but it's certainly worth listening to for a while. Probably not going to be a regular for my ears after a few months, but it also might get a lot of playtime in those few months.