The meandering musical journey of a literal band of brothers has taken its next turn as Fallstar resurfaces with their latest release, Sunbreather, which also marks their homecoming to Facedown Records. After inklings of the remnants of Fallstar pocked the band’s side project, Northlander – which explored the deeper unknown and expanse of the band’s musicianship – Sunbreather, alternatively, leans on the band’s roots and plays to their sonic forte.
Warping and pushing each genre to its limit, the Portland-based force offers no shortage of experience on Sunbreather. As Fallstar’s fourth studio album, this collection does justice for its waiting fans, breaking through the years of waiting since their self-released album, Future Golden Age, came out in late 2015.
The content of Sunbreather seems to span every major corner of the modern world with overwhelming positivity alongside explosive energy and a distinct fingerprint that stems from the band’s vibrant approach to traditional metalcore.
The content of Sunbreather seems to span every major corner of the modern world with overwhelming positivity alongside explosive energy and a distinct fingerprint that stems from the band’s vibrant approach to traditional metalcore. From vocalist Chris Ratzlaff’s journey with depression and mental health (laid bare in “SSRI Feel Better Already”) to the band’s bold and passionate stance against systemic racism (in “Get Me Out [Ice Agents]” and “King Lazer”), you can’t help but wonder if the urgency woven into every track is both a reflection of the monumental events shaping our world but also a metaphor for the life and struggle of Christ.
The delivery of such timely messages strikes a perfect balance of the unassuming and the fervent. Fallstar clearly isn’t afraid to plug in a traditional metalcore breakdown, a catchy chorus, or a wild rap section. “When Justice Cracks the Sky” and “The Prism Glass” lean heavily on the metalcore end of Fallstar’s spectrum, while others, like “Chroma,” pull more purely from hip-hop. And even with such juxtaposing styles both present in the same space, the majority of the tracks on this record find a unique balance between the two, possibly due to the rhythmic approach to both rap and metal vocals.
And the marrying of those ideas is extraordinarily representative of what Fallstar is as a band. Daring, unafraid, somewhere in the middle of every pole; embracing every aspect of life and death, faith and doubt, conviction and acceptance, failure and success. The penultimate track, “The Prism Glass,” articulates such an electrifying reality with perfect grace: “I exist somewhere in between the lion and the lamb / the cure and the disease / I exist somewhere in between the colors and the shapes / the heart and the brain.”
Whatever kind of Fallstar fan you are, their latest release is a strong entry in their book, one that undoubtedly offers an opportunity for contemplation at worst and a voice of necessary change in hard-learned stigmas at best.