February 17, 2008

CD Review: Dead to Fall - Are You Serious?

Like so many bands I have reviewed over the past few years, Dead to Fall is another one that I have had no experience with prior to this release. The band has been labeled as a metalcore act, but considering the music on Are You Serious?, I am not so sure. The music seems to be a bit more experimental in nature, to the point that it does not strike me as metalcore. Although, I have no idea what I would call it. The music is layered, heavy, and rather entrancing. It also happens to be lyrically a little bit off when compared with other examples of the genre; that is when you can understand them! I admit to being rather inept at translating lyrics heard on albums.

That said, once Are You Serious? takes off, it is hard to put it back down. No, I don't feel that this is a great album or that Dead to Fall is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but there is definitely more to them than your standard screaming band. What I really like about the album is the relentless nature. It digs down into the heavy, looks you dead in the eye and engages in a musical stare down, daring you to blink, daring you to turn away. I found that to be a difficult task. Even when I wasn't truly feeling the music, I found myself listening on, waiting for the next uptick for one was sure to be right around the corner.

Before even getting to the music, you are bound to have some thoughts on the cover. It is a truly retro-80's style faux-digital looking piece of work. For some reason, as I look at it I am reminded of Tron. It doesn't really look anything like the Disney film, but that is the connection I have made with it. I have to believe that the thought process that led to it was pursued with tongue planted firmly in cheek, much like a lot of the lyrical content (what I made out anyway).

The album opens with an intro track called "IQ Test." It has swirling synth and a heavily processed voice imploring you to "relax, focus on the arpeggios, become one with the universe." It is rather humorous, while at the same time lulling you into a fall sense of security, allowing the band to take over as the song "Stupid" comes into play. Here is where the lyrical absurdity kicks in. The lyrics take dead aim at genre conventions, referring to much of them as being stupid, and flat out making fun of others. One of the best lines would be the last one: "Let's end this f**king song with a f**king breakdown!" Then, wouldn't you know it, the song goes into a breakdown and promptly ends.

Next is "The Future," appropriately making use of a theremin. Anyone who is anyone knows that the future will forever be signaled by a theremin. Not to mention it was used to make the signature sounds of many a 50's era science fiction movies. It is an odd instrument that is used effectively in conjunction with the natural heaviness of Dead to Fall.

Another bit of lyrical absurdity comes in "Major Rager." The song chronicles a big party thrown by a teenager while the parents are away. It gets so out of control that he begins saying that his parents are going to kill him and they are going to call the cops due to it raging out of control. This is contrasted by him also claiming the night as the best of his life. I won't even get into "Doombox," which arrives later on. Let it just be said that no topic is taboo.

Are You Serious? is an interesting album made by a band that made an intriguing decision. While the music is calculated and produced in wondrous fashion, it seems as if Dead to Fall is fed up with the conventions and expectations of them and the bands around them. This has led to an album that asks exactly what the title is: Are you Serious? They have mined their personal lives for thoughts and ideas and lyrics that take aim at these conventions and purposefully set out to subvert them. By and large, they are successful at hitting their targets. The end result is an album that plays with what is expected of them by having fun with it. It is definitely unique.

Bottomline. Are you looking for an album that ditches the self-important seriousness attitudes that many bands put on to seem important? Are you tired of the barriers put up between expectation and what the artist truly wants to make? If so, this album is for you. It is not great, but it is definitely interesting and is covered in strong production values. The music is actually good, too.


1. IQ Test
2. Stupid
3. The Future
4. Sleeping Bag
5. Major Rager
6. Loch Ness
7. Brainmelter
8. Cropgrower
9. Robo-Destro
10. Doombox
11. Astral Projection / Dream J(ourney)


Unknown said...

Great CD. Sorry they broke up. :(

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