Blessthefall is a name that has become synonymous with the Vans Warped Tour over the past few years. They’re also one of the few bands that, while keeping about the same sound from album to album, manage to do it in a way that isn’t dull and repetitive. Their latest album, To Those Left Behind, is the album that will see them soaring to new heights. With added electronics, an overall darker feel and some of the best vocal work we’ve ever seen from the band, it’s clear to see that this band has finally found “their” sound. Starting with the release of the lead single, “Up In Flames.” A soaring metalcore anthem which quickly gained ground as a crowd favorite on 2015’s Warped Tour. If you thought that Hollow Bodies was impressive, just wait until your ears behold this masterpiece.
The intro track is, arguably, the most important of an album. This is due to the fact that it’s expected to set the tone for the rest of the album but this isn’t always the case. In the case of “Decayer,” though, it definitely does the former. We begin with an eerie build up of electronics, leading into a distant group chant of “Nowhere to run,” backed by a high note riff and finally explodes into guitarist Jared Warth’s declaration of “Sever the ties, it’s all for nothing!” This immediately gets the listener off of their feet as the first verse kicks in. The track moves fluidly throughout and starts things off with just the right amount of intensity.
While BTF has denounced the media’s proclamation that they are a “Christian Metal” band, it’s hard to deny the influence in a track like the 2nd single “Walk On Water.” Rather than focus on praise, though, they’ve decided to write this song as an announcement to all of the hypocrites that, despite their double lives/standards, pretend that they’re “holier than thou.” This track is led in by a pretty standard riff, chugging in as both Bokan and guitarist Jared Warth’s vocals come in, fiery and scolding. While this track does point out those living hypocritical lives, it also stands to reason that they’re reaching out to these individuals, “stop living like you walk on water, looking down on those you’ve left to drown.” In addition, this track really points out the power and commanding nature of Warth’s screams. It ends with drummer Elliott Gruenberg crying out for Jesus himself, begging for him to help them see the error of their ways.
Of course, the melodic portions of a post-hardcore album can be either A) one of the main reasons you’ll listen or B) ruination of the entire experience for you. As some of you may have already realized, Bokan definitely has one of my favorite set of pipes. As evidenced in “Dead Air” which is a mid-tempo track that really shows his talent as a vocalist. “You won’t find me there, cuz I’m already gone. Looking for what’s left to hang on, where did we go wrong?” the chorus goes as we’re led through a dark time in a relationship. It appears that this song was written during a dark period in Bokan’s relationship with Valerie Bokan (aka LIGHTS). “Dead Air” is a track that evokes such emotion that I find myself tearing up each time listening to it. While this track has a bit of an edge to it, musically it’s one of the softer tracks on the album. Emotionally, though, it’s one of the heaviest.
The tempo picks back up as we’re led through “Up In Flames” and “Against the Waves” but then it takes a sudden turn. Pushed off by pulsing electronics, we’re brought to “Looking Down from the Edge” which could be the next anthem for the lost. It touches on the fear of failing, the pain of loss and all the struggles we go through in life. “I’m looking down from the edge and would I do it again? Would I tear the world that I know down for a day that I don’t miss you?” Have you ever felt that sinking feeling that comes with the realization that you’ve hit a really dark period in your life? Like you’ve hit rock bottom and there’s no way you’ll climb back out at this point? This hits on those subjects and so much more, it’s a realization that even though you’ve hit that point… something will always push you forward. Now, I won’t argue and say that there might not be some religious undertones to this song but I don’t think they’re immediately revealed.
“Keep What We Love and Burn the Rest” and “Condition//Comatose” are two of my absolute favorite tracks that Blessthefall have ever written. While “Keep What We Love…” has a hip hop type beat, is fairly slow, dark and melancholy and has an insane build-up. Some may call it an interlude, but I feel it’s just as important to the album as the next, despite that fact. At just under 2:30, this track will hit you hard and there’s no way to stop it. “Condition//Comatose” touches on the subject of an out-of-body experience and is an entirely faith-based track. Our main character struggles with the realization that he is dead or comatose. He wrestles with the fact that he can see his former self below him but ultimately accepts that he has been called “home.” “Angels keep coming after me, chalk outlines, they captivate”… I can’t figure out what it was that happened to him but it wasn’t a death in a hospital bed. This is a declaration that you must keep your faith, even through the end… there’s a reason for everything, even if we don’t see it yet.
“Oathbreaker” is a track that really hit me by surprise. This is a track about the realization that someone is not who you thought they were. Someone you once confided in has turned their back and become “that the enemy that I thought that we’d never be.” As hard as it may be to accept, we must learn to turn the other cheek and let those situations go. We may have a lot of anger but life is too short to let it dwell within us and turn us into something we never wanted to be. The reason this track hit me so hard was because it’s one of the heaviest tracks I’ve heard from the band. However, that trend doesn’t subside as the title track, “To Those Left Behind” is just as heavy, if not heavier with it’s nu metal-esque riffs.
A ballad-like vibe encompassing, “Departures” leads us out in the perfect manner. This is a track that sees the dead speaking to living, letting them know one simple thing. No matter how hard it is to let go, they’ll always be their “guiding light.” The idea of guardian angels is definitely prevalent in this track. The idea that, even from beyond the grave, someone will be there watching, waiting and cheering you on is an idea that is almost universally accepted in one form or another. This track brings an emotional close to an incredible album.
So, there you have it. Blessthefall’s To Those Left Behind continues to see them as a powerful force in the post-hardcore scene. While the sound is something that is certainly not new and, admittedly, any band could have chosen to go in the direction they went, the overall delivery of this album is what makes it so impressive. They’ve managed to find a sound that really fits them and create their best work to date. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it… pre-order or pick up your copy of To Those Left Behind out September 18th via Fearless Records!