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Bless The Fall - His Last Walk (Independent)

By: Christa Titus

Screamo got branded a dirty word a while ago, and metalcore vocalists indulging in such abrasive hollering are wearing thin on the scene's ears. That signals the return of the powerhouse metal vocalist on the horizon. But there are still bands who can remind you that post-punkers shouting their lungs bloody about love shouldn't be shunned on principle.

Given the mindless ranters that flame metal message boards for a hobby, Bless The Fall doesn't make it any easier on itself by carrying the banner of being a Christian act. After spinning "His Last Walk" several times though, we think these kids can whump a little open-mindedness into the mental giants smirking online. This crew is like a sweet kid brother that looks up to As I Lay Dying but still wants to rock in his own way.

The Christian tag has nothing to do with the comparison. Both groups are muscular and assertive, but AILD is much more bulked up. Bless The Fall is propelled by a near-desperate romantic anguish you can hear flailing about the album, like when vocalist Craig Mabbitt sucks down air on "Black Rose Dying" as if he's drowning. The song gives good breakdown and emphasizes the sparse production: Its overall tone is very clean, and the instruments don't overrun each other in an attempt to sound beefier than they are.

"A Message To The Unknown" and "Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad" are other choice tunes. On the latter track Eric Lambert's and Mike Frisby's guitars dip into the metal well for splintering riffs before the song drifts into a midtempo interlude. Such moments pave the way for the eerie sadness of "With Eyes Wide Shut". From the quiet signals of its intro to its desultory piano, from the pulsing guitar whistles to the finale of Mabbitt's acapella singing, it's a death-kissed love letter any goth can love.

The hardcore elements of "His Last Walk" do verge on repetition, although the album's consistent flow has its charms. The linear mode is sharply broken on the closing/title track, which defiantly marches off into the distance under the cover of retching barks and a male choir that chants like a gathering storm. Bless The Fall hurls itself into this last hurrah, leaving a distinct impression of despair turning to hate—and of a musical maturity these boys are growing into.

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