Mixing electronic samples and elements of hip-hop, layering them over a base of metalcore and hard rock, proves to work amazingly well on Portland-based Fallstar’s latest release, Future Golden Age. None of the jam-packed 16 tracks disappoint. The band, a quartet featuring three brothers that originally started out in 2007, had recorded all the songs for Future Golden Age before taking to Kickstarter to get the album independently funded for mixing and distribution. It was successful, and the band was able to release FGA through their own record label, Rat Family Records.
There’s no question Fallstar has a heavy sound with thrashing guitar riffs, intense break downs and guttural lyrics, all elements that are par for the course in the metalcore genre, but the music separates itself from its contemporaries with a far greater dynamic. Adding in a synthesizer and the occasional record scratch give the music more depth, the right icing on the cake and can even occasionally stand in for the melody line; it ends up sounding great with the bass-heavy riffs and necessary breakdowns. But when Fallstar comes in for the chorus, they ease up to more of a hard rock vibe, giving each track a spectacular ebb and flow. This back-and-forth dynamic makes every song memorable, standing out from each other in the scope of the album and will get stuck in your head for days. I love the lyrical flow of each song; sometimes, it sounds like the album takes a page straight out of hip-hop’s book of tricks. The track “This is my E.L.F. Weapon” is a straight-up hip-hop track. It showcases vocalist Chris Ratzlaff’s great vocal range, with raspy, guttural screams to clean, melodic choruses, the variety handled with ease.
While the whole album is stellar, Future Golden Age‘s first few tracks (“What Roberta Sparrow Said,” “Spit,” “Circle Above Me [A Silent Voice]”) are some of the best, with a few other standouts in “Slaves” and “Under the Gun.” Fallstar caught my attention with their 2013 release Backdraft when they started pushing the boundaries of metalcore with their own flair, twisting their approach to the genre. I’m ecstatic to see them take their unique sound even further in a genre that suffers from a lack of variety. Future Golden Age isn’t strictly metalcore, and it is a fabulous album for fans of the band and for fans of the metalcore world.