German label Arising Empire has become the Litmus Test that is all good and heavy, and have nurtured new talent alongside established acts, and falling firmly into the second category are Michigan-based metalcore masters For The Fallen Dreams. This Midwest quintet are celebrating their twentieth anniversary, a milestone they’re marking in style with their seventh album, the eponymously titled, For The Fallen Dreams.
A self-titled album usually signifies a debut or a change of style, and For The Fallen Dreams certainly has a touch of the rebirth about it. While this crew have always been a band in flux, a group unafraid to push boundaries and incorporate new styles, their seventh full-length feels like five musicians stepping outside their comfort zone, and as many of their peers are settling into the heritage circuit, For The Fallen Dreams have much more territory to explore. That they have a fire in their collective belly is immediately obvious by opening shot ‘Reanimate’. Attesting to a sense of urgency, there’s no time for throwing feints of fancy footwork, there’s just a juggernaut punch of a riff and then the whole band throwing their weight behind the song. It’s the musical equivalent of a bloody nose (but in the best possible way) with ‘Reanimate’ being a tightly wound ball of fury. However, the following ‘What If’ makes good use of light and shade; clean vocals are juxtaposed with the gruff and lighter sections contrasted with the crushingly heavy. It’s a style of song writing that could only come from older and wiser heads, and it raises For The Fallen Dreams above the herd.
What could be seen as contradictions, For The Fallen Dreams turn into positives. There was a time when rap and rock we’re diametrically opposed and it seemed that never the twain would meet but ‘Without You’ overlays a modern metal beat (with guitarists Jim Hocking and Damon Austen Tate eschewing solos, the beat is heavy) with hip-hop inspired vocals, and the two combined make for an explosive combination. Likewise, the pop sensibility exhibited on ‘Last One Out’ makes for an emotive listen, and one that is highlighted by the wrecking-ball swing of the music. This album also veers into progressive territory (‘Searching…’) pure metal (‘Suprapersonal’) and post-hardcore (‘Lavender’) and while this could result in an eclectic listen, it is the emotional edge that stitches the album together. With an impressive range Chad Ruhlig is the one constant throughout and provides ice to the metronomic fire provided by drummer Marc Esser and new bassist Kalan Blehm.
There’s no sign of a band slowing down here or resting on their laurels, just eleven tracks of the best in modern metal that conglomerate in what’s sure to be one of 2023’s best albums.
- For The Fallen Dreams is released via Arising Empire on 10th March 2023 (available here).
- What If
- Last One Out
- Without You
- No Heaven