I remember first listening to blessthefall in 2008 when all they had was their debut, which, at the time, I thought was mediocre. Now, I have a much harder time enjoying it whenever I listen to it. Once my heart was sold with the fantastic follow-up record, Witness, I became a huge supporter of their music. Although blessthefall can be found NOWHERE on my list of my VERY favorite screamo bands, they’re still amazing enough for me to donate $12 in exchange for a pre-ordered copy of their newest album, Awakening. I usually like to at least hear a teaser or a leaked track before I pre-order something, but my gut told me that I wouldn’t regret this one. And I was right; blessthefall went on to release their best album yet, catching the beautiful trend of making each album better than the last.
Now that I’m starting to truly realize how overused this breakdown thing really is, blessthefall seems to be one of the major ground-breakers in the “core” community (not including grindcore). When you have screamo and metalcore bands that abuse the breakdown like I the Breather, Beneath the Sky, and Abandon all Ships, blessthefall is one of those reliefs and pieces of proof that “all is not lost”. They do this by bringing back a modernized version of the old screamo sound created and shaped by bands like Hopesfall, The Used, Atreyu, Killswitch Engage, Demon Hunter, and the early works of All that Remains.
The old screamo/metalcore sound (commonly referred to early post-hardcore by some) is an ambient and more melodic version of the type of music that the hardcore punk bands from the 1990s played. But then again, on top of the music part being more atmospheric, the vocals are much harsher (therefore giving it the name “screamo”) and the breakdowns are much more pronounced and heavier. Sort of like a much heavier version of hardcore punk, but with less energy. When you think of MODERN screamo, it’s a much simpler version of the old screamo that’s also extremely poppy. Think of taking a modern screamo band, taking out some of the breakdowns, and making it slightly less poppy in order to expose the ambient Hopesfall-sound. That is what blessthefall plays.
When critics talk about blessthefall, one of the most discussed topics is how much the band’s sound resembles the original screamo sound from the turn of the century. But don’t be expecting something really dark, the melodic parts on this record are EXTREMELY melodic and have a beautiful sound. Beau’s singing is what brings out the melodic sections so much. In my favorite song off the record, 40 Days, his singing adds the missing piece to the puzzle that, when complete, creates a powerful melody. His screaming isn’t something that’s super common in this kind of music. It doesn’t really sound super high-pitched like Austin Carlile, but it’s not really deep either. I think it can be best described as a really dirty, forced out yell…but then again, it sounds like a scream! The heaviness and brutality of his screams match the heaviness of the music PERFECTLY. You want heaviness? Listen to Bottomfeeder.
The guitarists aren’t amazing, but the really loud and gritty distortion they have on their guitars is what makes the heaviness factor so great. But of course, they somehow made it so that they can make the melodic sections sound beautiful while still using the exact same distortion. They probably pull this off by playing deeper and more complex chords in the heavy parts and simpler chords in the melodic parts so that they can allow the lead notes to sing through and be heard easier. There’s not really anything about the drummer in particular that I would consider out of the ordinary or special. He does exactly what he needs to do to stay on tempo with minimal (if any) room for fuck-ups. The general simplicity of what he plays makes the overall music easier to swallow, but the drumming does get repetitive after a little bit in certain songs.
Overall, this album is fantastic for a screamo record. With bombarding tracks like Promised Ones and Bottomfeeder and melodic tracks (my two favorite songs off the record being) like The Reign and 40 Days, I would rate Awakening 16/20. I would definitely recommend checking this one out to fans of melodic metal music.