REVIEW: For The Fallen Dreams – ‘Heavy Hearts’

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Artist: For the Fallen Dreams
Album: Heavy Hearts
Genre: Metalcore / Melodic Hardcore
Label: Rise Records

The term metalcore has evolved quite substantially since it first started being thrown around. Over the course of two decades, the movement that was pioneered by groups like Cave In and Shai Hulud has grown into a blanket term used to describe a wide variety of musical unions. Likewise, I find myself growing increasingly critical of bands adopting this title, partially because they’re not Cave In or Shai Hulud, but mainly because they do very little to distinguish themselves from one and other, instead opting to follow a seemingly identical blueprint.

For a long time, I considered For the Fallen Dreams one such band — a group of individuals who had grown popular off of their ability to write a halfway decent breakdown. Still, given their impressive reputation, I was hopeful that the outfit’s fifth studio album, Heavy Hearts, would shatter whatever preconceived notions I had and restore my faith in the genre. And though my anticipation would ultimately prove unwarranted, this newest effort still turned out to be far more accessible than expected, and deserves to be recognized as the band’s most put-together record to date.

That being said, be warned that if progression is what you seek, Heavy Hearts probably isn’t for you. On this latest attempt, FTFD have — for the most part — remained squarely planted within the confines of their native sound, exhausting the tight, down-tuned assaults they have recycled across multiple albums. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good breakdown, and every one of Heavy Hearts’ ten tracks has plenty of them, but quite frankly, so does every other album by every other metal / metalcore / hardcore / whatever-core band out there. Admittedly, the opener, “Emerald Blue,” is delightfully back-breaking, and the jittery hook of “Choke” will surely get your blood pumping, but I’ve tasted this stew before, and got bored with it quickly. Though these tracks are notably more fluid and thought out, over time they have a habit of blurring together, and as such, I found that if I didn’t devote my full attention to them, I often had trouble pinpointing where one ended and another began.

This is not to say that Heavy Hearts is a wholly bad album, though. “Lights” showcases an effortless blend of melody and mass destruction, capitalizing on well-placed riffs and a simple yet poignant bridge that would fit right in on Versus the Mirror’s Home (RIP). In much the same way, “Bombay” is another wonderful example of the Michigan quartet’s true songwriting potential. Built upon a soaring lead, the four-minute track again illustrates an underutilized fusion of heaviness and beauty that would be more than welcome if only acknowledged more frequently. “Endless” is everything but — in the best way possible; starting slow, it swells to a climactic head atop the support of bombastic drum work, driving rhythm guitar, and a captivating hook. Additionally, in what is sure to be his triumphant return, lead vocalist Chad Ruhlig more than earns his place back at the helm of FTFD, having drastically pushed his delivery to staggeringly brutal territories since 2008’s Changes.

As more and more bands rewrite the definition of metalcore, eventually the term will become meaningless, and as disappointing as this may be, perhaps it is for the best. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about the music itself anyway? For the Fallen Dreams may not have expanded their creative horizons, but they have reminded me that, though progression is desired, it is not always necessary to create a solid, hard-hitting record. Though I expected more from a band five albums into their career, the straightforward aggression of Heavy Hearts is still worth checking out. The record is out now so pick it up via Rise Records.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Kyle Florence (follow him on Twitter)

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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