Artist: Legends Shall Fall
Somewhere on the spectrum of human emotion—closer to the negative end than the positive one—there is a smaller subdivision of feelings that are all grouped by the theme sadness. Some are just that—sad—simple, transient, monosyllabic. Others are more complicated, adding morose elements of despair, self-deprecation, loss and failure into the mix like a contorted, depressing recipe. Among those there is sorrow (maybe a little dramatic and over-the-top), melancholy (probably a little too neutral) and, finally, grief. Grief is a complicated one—hell there are entire subdivisions of grieving and loss. There’s a whole Kubler-Ross scale, ask your local psychiatrist. Grief is complicated because it stems from loss, which is, again, complicated and broad. But it’s that complexity—that careful melding of anger, bitterness, depression and loathing all heaped into a melting pot of sadness—that makes it the perfect title for the long-awaited full-length record by deathcore juggernauts Legends Shall Fall. Those of you well-versed in the genre’s underground acts have no doubt heard of this group before, however, if this is the first you’re learning of them, buckle the hell up. Grief is the better part of an hour, and it is thoroughly abusive without reprieve or remorse. Taking raw, traditional deathcore and giving it a contemporary makeover, Grief is a bold, gut-busting release that demands the respect and attention of heavy music’s old heads and young bloods alike.
Grief, at its core, is a deathcore record tried and true. Legends Shall Fall stay true to their roots throughout this monster of an album, taking elements of brutal death metal and weaving them into a backbone of deathcore with splashes of progressive and technical influence to keep things musically intriguing. This is true of the band as a whole, of course, but it is exceptionally true of percussionist Andrew Landazuri, whose skills throughout Grief are remarkable. From the first single, “Ov the Void,” through songs like “The Devil’s Hands” and “Mindless Sheep,” Landazuri uses everything from mellow, atmospheric sections to lacerating blast beats to keep the listener guessing. What’s more is that his effortless ability to lay down smooth—but technically immaculate—fills allows for smooth transitions between bold, robust riffs and brutalizing breakdowns brought forth by bassist Robert Phillips and guitarist Josh Williams. Phillips’ bass is thick and groovy throughout, working dynamically with Williams’ gritty and aggressive tone to provide a comprehensively crushing take on contemporary deathcore. “Ov the Void” sees Williams working in a more metallic spectrum, while “Your Fate,” alongside “I Am Meaningless” or “A Gray State” are more brazen, brash deathcore cuts that waste little time in filleting the listener to the bone. Phillips and Williams work excellently together to keep the album’s near one-hour run-time sounding fresh and fun; ruthless without being overbearing, all while still sounding familiar enough for fans of good ol’ deathcore to tune in at any time and get a solid headbang or spinkick in. Where Legends Shall Fall might not earn extra points for going outside the box when it comes to genres and styles, they earn more than their fair share when it comes to writing an instrumentally solid record that is accessible and enjoyable for just about anyone who enjoys things that go “chug” in the night. Note, however, that there is much more to Legends Shall Fall than just the “chugs,” as songs like “A Gray State” and “Your Fate” are riff-heavy and catchy, bringing breakdowns for sure, but not without an adequate helping of groovy, riffy catchiness and a brilliant metallic sheen to even things out.
Where Legends Shall Fall do deathcore proud with their instrumental efforts, their vocal element does so even more eloquently. Frontman Tony Viscusi harbors a massive range of styles and pitches, all put to good use throughout Grief. Using lyrics that touch on topics as personal and introspective as depression and suicide to those that preach of hatred and violence for others (or mankind in general). “Your Fate,” the album’s opening cut, is one of the best examples of Viscusi’s vocal dynamism, while “I Am Meaningless” when juxtaposed against “Ov the Void” captures his lyrical variety to a similar degree. Viscusi’s voice is vicious, adding throat-shredding, mind-buckling intensity to much of Grief, while also taking the time and opportunity to be sure that emotional and introspective sections are added to even out the more blistering displays of aggression. In this way, Viscusi adds an extra dimension to Legends Shall Fall, taking their bold approach to deathcore and adding in depth and relatability.
Grief is an immensely anticipated record—and I say this even if this is your, the reader, first time hearing of Legends Shall Fall. Even if you didn’t know you were waiting for this record, you were waiting for this record. These Californian crushers—partnering up with Sonic Assault studios—have crafted one of the sleeper deathcore hits of the year, giving listeners a solid hour (ish) of heavy, hard-hitting and remorseless putridity. Combining subtle emotion in with an immolating backbone of intense deathcore, Grief is a testament to 2019’s ability to bring out some of deathcore’s sleeping giants, adding one more artist into the growing mix of jaw-dropping comebacks we have the honor of hearing this year.
For Fans Of: Bloodshed by Reality, SPITE, Oceano, Martyr Defiled
By: Connor Welsh