Artist: Fault Lines
Album: Such is Life – EP
On a day-to-day basis, we encounter small mishaps and setbacks that we simply cannot change. Maybe your car won’t start, maybe there’s a train crossing and it makes you late for work—you get the picture. At times like these, there isn’t much anyone can do but shrug and sigh a dismissive such is life. Rather than let the little things keep you down, it’s best to save your energy for the struggles in life that you can change; times when you need to dig deep and gather every ounce of energy you can muster. For all of those times, Tennessee post-hardcore/metalcore hybrid have crafted Such is Life, a collection of driving tracks that pack more energy into every breakdown and chorus than ten tons of Energizer batteries. With lyrical content ranging from substance abuse, anxiety and a nagging sense of being out of place, this talented sextet have pushed and pulled at the borders that define conventional post-hardcore to incorporate elements of both hectic, downtuned metalcore and technically-savvy progressive and groove metal, making it an immersive and intense album for fans of any –core subgenre.
It would be unwise to typecast the instrumentation on Such is Life on the basis of a single track. The riotous opening number, “High Strung” is just that—as drummer Chris Blankenship barely slows down throughout the entire song. Meanwhile, the “meat” of the album—“Lifelike” and “Write Me Off” sees Blankenship oscillating between quickness and cavernous atmosphere, allowing the songs to oscillate from a frenzied fervor to a calming, catchy melody. Blankenship—aided by bassist Joe Burns—is the rock for Fault Lines. Where Blankenship’s beefy kick drum slows down to a gentle plod or a crushing breakdown, Burns is right there with him, snapping and grooving along, adding weight and heft to even the more atmospheric moments of the band’s EP. Indeed, Blankenship and Burns are the anchor, keeping Fault Lines grounded—but guitarists Dylan Cheatham and Dan Willwerth are the source of the band’s diversity and dynamic. “High Strung” and “Self/Destruct” see the duo focusing on drawing from their heavier influences—as the guitars are slathered with a heaping coat of grime and grit to give the duo’s grooves and chugs a g
Grisly, aggressive demeanor. Likewise, the following two songs focus more on clean playing with moderate distortion to serve as assistants in breaking down what the band spends an entire track building up. This war between hectic heaviness and creative clean riffing comes to a head during “Gypsy Blood,” in which the band’s dynamic reaches the fullest manifestation of its diversity—as Cheatam’s crushing chugs and Willwerth’s wondrous fretwork clash in perfect dialectic.
No heavy-soft dynamic would be complete without roaring screams contrasted by crooned clean singing. Where most bands would simply look to a guitarist (who probably was in their high school’s choir) for the clean singing duty, Fault Lines isn’t “most bands.” Such is Life shows off the prowess of harsh vocalist Corey Pettit and singer Zack Wilson both—making their vocal dynamic infinitely more detailed than their “post-metalcore” label might have you think. Pettit’s punishing roars and grisly growls are phenomenal, as he dominates with an array of ranges and styles that would fit a deathcore act. Even his work alongside big-name Landon Tewers sees himholding his own, hitting sharp screams and blunt, bold lows. Wilson’s work is just as strong—even if it fees misplaced on occasion. Wilson’s clean singing is beautiful to say the least; his work during the chorus of “High Strung” and “Self/Destruct” is touching and catchy both. However, some of his bridges—like those in the aforementioned “Self/Destruct” and “Write Me Off” seem immensely out of place. Using a warbling voice that seems vaguely reminiscent of Monuments or Protest the Hero, Wilson’s tone simply doesn’t match the quick, light groove from Willwerth and Cheatam—pulling the listener out of the moment ever so slightly. In the grand scheme of things, two or three instances across an entire EP is forgivable—and perhaps not even noticeable to some—but still worth mentioning as slight flaws in an otherwise impeccable vocal tag team.
It’s likely that when I mentioned “heavy/soft,” or the cringe-worthy “post-metalcore” idiom, I lost some of you. Turns out that’s your loss—because with six distinctly different sounding songs that emphasize different strengths of Fault Lines and their broad base of influences, there is something for everyone to love. Like gritty, raw aggression? You’ll love “Self/Destruct.” Maybe you want a chorus that gets stuck in your head and simply won’t quit—“Equal Parts” is your song. Hell, maybe Wilson’s bizarre proggy-sounding singing does it for you, in which case “Lifelike” will doubtlessly become a favorite. The take home is this—when it comes to EPs you should pay close attention to in 2016, Fault Lines’ sophomore release is nothing to shake your head at and mutter such is life. Diverse and devilishly heavy without sacrificing intelligent songwriting and above-par lyrics, there isn’t much fault to be found with these Tennessee titans.
For Fans Of: Like Moths to Flames, Sirena, The Plot In You, Fit For a King
By: Connor Welsh