REVIEW – A Righteous Downfall – Desolation\\\Reparation [2014]


Artist: A Righteous Downfall

Album: Desolation\\\Reparation


Time and time again, history—and personal experience—teaches us that from the most trying situations come the best rewards. The more severe the injury—the closer to complete disrepair we are brought, the stronger and more fiercely we recover. Sure, it’s a cliché, but only because it holds true as a time-tested adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and A Righteous Downfall are picture-perfect proof. This Troy, Michigan-based metalcore act tell stories of ruination and reparation on their debut full length album, Desolation\\\Reparation so intense and immersive that the listener practically undergoes it with them. With vicious, intense and southern-tinted vocals smeared overtop a raging-hot musical canvas laden with hooky, crunchy riffs and pounding, hammering percussion, Desolation\\\Reparation breaks metalcore down to its roots and builds it back up to be stronger and more robust than ever before.

The first step to rebuilding anything means you have to break it down first—and that’s where A Righteous Downfall start. “Desolation” is home to pounding, intense percussion that has a bounce and thud to it like a lumberjack swinging his axe. The rhythmic, repetitious pounding serves as a pacesetter for the dissonant fade in of the guitars and the aggressive, uniform chanting. Once in play, these elements build. They keep swinging; hammering, pounding and slicing away at the limitations of modern metalcore, until finally—the tree falls, and is used as fuel for the upcoming 22 minutes of ferocious, southern heat that is Desolation\\\Reparation. The first two full tracks on the album, “Refining Fire” and “Rebuilding Gomorrah” are among the two fiercest and most intense on the album—displaying a widely varied instrumental canvas that completely renovates the metalcore the listener thought they knew. Borrowing leaves from the books of All’s Quiet and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, dirty, crunchy southern riffs ride hand-in-hand with gritty, gruesome chugs and punchy, bone-breaking percussion. All the while, deep, rolling bass riffs tie everything together, providing a grounding firmament of fury and fire to keep the instrumental elements of Desolation\\\Reparation in check. However, as the album continues, the listener (and the genre) finds himself or herself following the lyrics of “Refining Fire”—traveling through the intense inferno and emerging a gilded, armored and improved version of their former selves.

As A Righteous Downfall’s debut album progresses, the band find themselves slowly replacing aggression, intensity and fire with serenity, atmosphere and subtlety. “Reparation” is one such example of this (surprising no one), as is “The Risen”  and even portions of “Empty Vessel.” Crooned, smooth clean vocals align themselves with the gruff, southern yell and ferocious, gritty screams of “Refining Fire,” while crystal clear guitar tones begin to work themselves in around the bouncy, groovy southern riffs. Where the listener was once sweltering in practically tangible southern heat, they now find themselves feeling the brisk breeze characteristic of other midwestern metallers. This “breeze” is the representative “second wind” of the album, which breaks away from bone-busting heaviness and intense, lacerating instrumentation and moves towards renovating and rebuilding the genre that was practically shattered by the opening portion of the album. In this way, A Righteous Downfall dissect metalcore into bits and pieces, and then reconstruct it—all while adding their own bit of southern-gone-north flare and fury to it in the process.

This awe-inspiring dynamic is one that has hardly been seen before. Short of Harp and Lyre, All’s Quiet or Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, no other band has so brilliantly found a way to include aggressive, riff-first-ask-questions-later influences into otherwise down-tuned and destructive metalcore. What’s even more so is that A Righteous Downfall manage to take the listener on this entire journey in such a brief, lightning-like lesson of an album. Clocking in at well under a half an hour, Desolation\\\Reparation is just barely long enough to qualify as a full-length album on paper. But what the album lacks in run-time, it more than makes up for in both head and heart. Head in the sense that every song is intelligently written and brilliantly crafted to stay stuck in the listener’s head, and heart in the sense that it is fueled with enough faith and passion to impart itself willingly into the listener’s soul and truly speak to them and resonate within them. All while practically redefining and hybridizing a genre in the process.

Flawed, standard, ordinary—the listener enters the fire that is Desolation\\\Reparation carrying with them the perceptions of metalcore that they’ve crafted over weeks, months or years of listening. However, after head-first immersion into the immense, unstoppable and relentless furnace that A Righteous Downfall have crafted on their debut album, the listener emerges fortified and faith filled, driven with passion and energy unlike anything contemporary metalcore has had the ability to impart recently. More importantly, they emerge carrying with them a new, refurbished and redefined perception of a genre which needed reinvention almost as desperately as the listener did.



For Fans Of: All’s Quiet, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Memphis May Fire, Remove the Veil

By: Connor Welsh