To make any original statement in art is profoundly difficult, even more so when the field is riddled with the tracks of others who have previously tried, leaving behind a graveyard of attempt. Music is particularly prone to this state of affairs, and it often seems prominent artists’ greatest talent is merely the skillful borrowing — right down to hairstyles and stage presence — from whichever bands originally defined the style of music they’re playing.
Thankfully, the field is not always a complete loss. One can still catch a breath of fresh air here and there, especially in a genre filled with a fairly limited palate of musical colors and lyrical themes. While including plenty of time-honored techniques from the metalcore music playbook, Blessthefall’s latest album, To Those Left Behind, is still an example of a band with enough flair and self-awareness that the listener can be sure the money they spent wasn’t on a band merely interested in releasing a half-hour of cliches to earn a paycheck.
To Those Left Behind, released from Fearless Records by the Phoenix, AZ-based quintet, delivers enough of the great ingredients to keep things interesting and compelling, a perfect example of why a veteran band can continue to excel in this landscape. Originally formed in 2003, their ability to change rhythm, key, time signature and vocal technique throughout the collection of 11 songs makes for a tasty musical gumbo. The blistering low-end riffing of the opening salvo “Decayer,” the unexpected melodic territory of “Looking Down from the Edge” to the plaintive pleading of the aptly named last track, “Departures,” the band delivers an engaging journey of an album.
Blessthefall could mail in any album at this point in their career, and it would still sell records. Kudos to them for making sure this latest release didn’t enter into the rut of metalcore. It’s not a life-changing release, but it’s a steady progression of bettering their work that has them around more than a decade after they started.