Artist: Fall City Fall
Positive albums aren’t the rarity they used to be. Now with a little bit of gumption and google search, one could stumble across any number of “posi-core” melodic hardcore bands with uplifting messages of trial and triumph that will force the listener to get up on their own two feet and bring about change. This is good–I repeat–this isn’t bad. The world needs that kind of music. But more than that, the world needs music that plants listeners in the deepest channels of the heart of the struggle to overcome bad with good. That’s where Calgary-based hardcore band Fall City Fall, and their sophomore full-length album, Victus comes into play. While Victus is an overwhelmingly positive album, it isn’t the same kind of positivity which is abundant in today’s hardcore scene. Rather, Victus details the finer, grittier and most real parts of the struggle of doing what’s right, and, in turn, is more than simply an overwhelmingly positive album–instead, Victus is an overwhelmingly positive and emotional experience, engaging the listener non-stop, from the first second to the last, dwindling syllable.
Victus wastes no time in going right for the listener’s throat–by reaching in through their ears. However, while nearly every aspect of Victus is perfect, the vocals are where both the album and the band are truly excellent. Fueled by a two-headed assault by vocalists Nathan Zorn and Keenan Pylychaty, from the first words shouted in “St. James” to the last sentences sang in “Victus,” the listener is subject to near-constant emotional trauma by these two juggernauts of vocalists. While one screams a harsh, grating mid-range pitch or a bellowed, grim growl the other utilizes an almost-spoken scream which fits the down-tempo, sludgy tone of the guitars and the bass perfectly. In this manner, the assault the two vocalists are constantly orchestrating is not only visceral and aggressive, but intelligible and understandable as well. It’s the worst kind of enemy one can have, really. One that can be understood and ascertained but not fought or vanquished. In this manner, Fall City Fall wage an emotional war on the listener, which rends them completely helpless, but also in complete bliss.
Filled with destructive, rampant and newfound dissonance, Victus is already leaps and bounds above both the Dead Saints EP and 1629. “Dissentipede,” the kick-start to the album is proof positive of this. Laden with shreddy, skin-rending guitar and punctual, punchy drumming, this track is an ideal way to showcase the advancement Fall City Fall have made instrumentally. However, “Dissentipede” is a vocal oddball, with less of the vocal and emotional fortitude rampant throughout the album. Where the instruments really prove their worth is the constant barrage and lacerating instrumentation in “Many Masters.” “Many Masters” showcases impeccable riffing and stunning drumming while having a completely comprehensive vocal assault like the kind one would expect from Fall City Fall’s past releases. True, “Dissentipede” is an instrumental beast unlike any other to be found in this wilderness of a release.
Where Fall City Fall go from “men” to “legends” on Victus, however, is in the sheer majesty to be found in the albums penultimate track, “Taken.” Unlike any other track on the album, “Taken” employs an almost The Chariot-style approach on battling the listener. Starting off with a brutalizing, demoralizing vocal assault, with lyrics to be marveled at, the track undergoes a complete metamorphosis. Slowly, the instruments build into a great, towering, tedious wall of noise, ready to collapse on the listener. However, as the tipping point is reached and the song collapses into complete ruin, the entire weight of the album does not crush the listener, but rather encases them in the rubble, surrounding them with mountainous piles of musical tension and leaving them for dead. It is not until the final track, “Victus” has neared it’s completion that the listener obtains the motivation they need to climb out of this pit and move on–with the emotional experience needed to become the change they wish to see in the world.
Victus is an uplifting experience for a variety of reasons. It builds hapless walls of emotional sediment amount the listener, but at the same time, provides the positivity needed to force them out of that rut. Fans of 1629’s spoken segments might be at first disappointed–however, this will only last as long as it takes for the listener to realize the band’s storytelling is still there, the method has just become perfected. Strategically using crushing breakdowns and driving instruments alongside visceral, nearly-tangible vocal delivery, Victus is everything any fan of aggressive music needs to truly fight their own demons.
For Fans Of: La Dispute, The Chariot, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism