Review: For The Fallen Dreams – “Back Burner” (Rise Records)

I never realized until now how deep Michigan is as a place for modern metal bands. I send my apologies and respect to anybody I overlooked or offended by not realizing how kick-ass the bands from The Great Lakes State truly are. FOR THE FALLEN DREAMS is the latest in a long line of bands carving their own path, but playing a style everyone can relate to. For Back Burner they had to overcome the loss of founder and chief songwriter Andrew Tkaczyk, which might have sunk another group. Not these guys however, as the proved they were up to the task at hand.

By the one minute mark of “Say What You Will” I already knew this record was going to be great. Jangle-filled guitars and soaring melodies give way to brutal metalcore madness. Straddling the line of college rock and modern metal, this band has definitely raised the bar over their previous two efforts. Versatile singer Dylan Richards has the ability to sing the sweetest, hooky chorus parts and then drop down to the gutter for all the growling and grunting you can handle.  The a-b parts, heavy-not-heavy style carries out over the entire album the band is wise about where they inject melody and when to just let groovy parts ride out. They have overcome the loss of their former leader, done so easily and become better, more mature writers in the process. “Deep Down Inside” starts off with a harsh breakdown part, bring the sun up musically later on. “Complicate the Situation” is another bruiser that is just unrelenting and hard, until the slick along chorus comes in. There is some cool guitar stuff going on underneath done by Jim Hocking that just catches your earpiece and doesn’t let go. He is joined by Kalan Blehm who holds his end down and replaced Tkaczyk more than ably. “Only Unopened Arms” has “modern classic” written all over it. Tough and tender at the same time, its a song for dudes to mosh out to and their girlfriends to sing along to. Other standout tracks to take note of are “My Anthem-Like Symphony”, “Bottom Feeders” and “Fist Fight”. Even though there is a distinct formula at play here, I do like their musical sensibilities and their ability to milk with a riff that is working for all its worth. Pardon me now while I crank this album and do a one-man circle pit in my house.

RATING: 8 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/forthefallendreams

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Review: Legend – “The Pale Horse” (Rise Records)

Detroit, Michigan death-core merchants LEGEND are back with new album and I must say it’s as good as expected. With this release they look to separate themselves from the already deep roster of Rise Records. These road dogs are relentless in their music and attitude and their legion of fans eat it up like breakfast. They have turned in a surprisingly mature record that sees them staying true to their roots, but at the same time mine their style a little deeper this time out.

Diagnosis, Doom” opens the album like the soundtrack from a modern horror movie, all creepy and eerie. When the first riff kicks in it burns with the typical intensity and head nodding good stuff you expect. “Circle of Friends” is the proper first song and it rips with uptempo fervor that makes me wanna punch some one’s lights out. I see a lot of tough-guy deathcore bands who lack the musical backbone and chops to go with it and they should pay close attention to LEGEND. Taking a page out of THE ACACIA STRAIN’s book, the song goes through several shifts in mood and raises up the dynamic level dramatically. The next track “Shut Down” is equally aggressive with a tremendous main riff and stop/start rhythms sure to snap necks. Guitarist Aaron Bagby isn’t a one string, one note riffer like most deathcore axemen. He is a skilled player who adds all manner of intricate ear candy for the listener to grab on to. Dylan Shippey is powerhouse drummer and he is the glue that holds these songs and this band together. Bringing in an even more explosive tempo and another level of down-tuned guitars, “Parasite” just crushes big time. As on all the tracks here vocalist Chad Ruhlig shifts between a guttural growl and a hardcore yell. He does interesting pitch changes with his mouthpiece from song to song, giving each cut its own distinct flavor. One of his major strengths is you can always understand his lyrics no matter how hard he screams. “Parasite” also has the best breakdown on the album and even though the band doesn’t do it too often, the bass drop comes in at just the right time. All of the tracks have a degree of programming and sound effects running through them like a thread adding color, but not so much as to take away from the songs. That is the mistake many bands are making these days. You’d like to hear them change up the song styles a little more, but it’s hard to fault an album that sets a goal to kick teeth in and then does it with assassin like precision. Other notable tracks on the album are “Obey”, the single “Proven” and “Shadow Stalker”.

It takes a lot of balls to call your band Legend. I’m not sure they are there quite yet, but they are building an impressive resume with The Pale Horse.

RATING: 8.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LEGENDMI