Fallstar has been floating around labels since the beginning. Their first album, Reconciler. Refiner. Igniter., was released on Come&Live, but the guys moved to Facedown Records for their follow-up, Backdraft. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the band is releasing their newest record, Future Golden Age, independently. Musically, they continue where Backdraft left off, but they are a little more schizophrenic -- shall we say -- in their approach this time. Future Golden Age is undoubtedly metal, but it bounces around from metalcore, to rapcore, to even a little death metal. The band doesn't seem to be content sticking within one sub-genre, and unfortunately it leads to some continuity issues overall.
"What Roberta Sparrow Said" (a Donnie Darko reference) starts the album with a rapcore sound. The song has a really nice groove, but the extremely political content lyrically is a bit overbearing. The song starts with immigration, "Let the immigrants in, I'm a culturalist. Yeah, we share the same blood I'm all for it." Next up is Guantanamo Bay, "I was born to mobilize the voice of youth. Shut down (down) the armories. Shut down (down) Guantanamo Bay," which is followed directly by the use of drones with, "I'm pissed (pissed) we're forced to pay for drones to airstrike families." It's a great jam, but if you're not a fan of political agendas in music, or if you simply disagree with the politics on display, songs like this become very difficult to enjoy. "Spit" is a pretty cool song and features lyrics that reference Jesus healing the blind. Chris Ratzlaff sings, "So spit in mud, you can touch my face. Open our eyes and enlighten our hearts." "Circle Above Me (A Silent Voice)" is the first taste of death metal influence. The vocals are layered from clean, to dark growls, and then shrill and biting screams. That first taste leads to the most death metal sounding cut on the album, "Death Worship." While the track is far from a death metal song overall, the influence is undoubtedly the strongest here. "Write My Name in Gold" is the next song of note. The song has a super catchy, and softer, chorus, but a full-on metalcore verse. Overall, it's put together nicely and is one of the more interesting tracks musically.
"Radio (NW Hesh)" is also an interesting track to look at. The lyrics revolve around Ratzlaff singing about creating true art, taking risks, and never being played on the radio. "Slaves" kicks in after a short and soft interlude. The song jams and grooves similar to "What Roberta Sparrow Said" with that same rapcore feel. The lyrics focus on modern day slavery -- most pointedly slave labor/sweat shops and strippers. Ratzlaff sings, "I bought this shirt for $9.99, but the laborer gets paid a nickel and a dime." The bridge sums up the message with, "We can't say we never knew when we really should've known. When man is treated like animal it should stir your soul." There's almost a Limp Bizkit sound to the song, but it's an undeniably fun listen musically. "Under the Gun" continues the band's political message with lyrics that attack war, capitalism, and the NSA. "This is My E.L.F. Weapon" stands out as the most different from a musical perspective. It's a shorter track that brings a Mike-Shinoda-rapping-in-Linkin-Park type vibe to the table. The final track, outside of the minute long outro, is the second song about a spark -- the first being the Madeleine L'Engle inspired "Dance in the Desert" -- "Divine Spark." The song doesn't really rank in the top tier, but serves as a solid closer.
Fallstar has presented a mixed bag of material for their third full-length. The mixture of sub-genres provides some fun and variety at times, but at others, it just makes the album feel too disjointed. Some solid lyrical output is also offset by some strong political statements as well as a lot of anger. For those who are faint of heart, the band does use different variations of the word "piss" on several occasions to convey both anger and urine. Tracks like "Spit," "Write My Name in Gold" and "Slaves" make it a worthwhile listen, but as a whole, Future Golden Age doesn't reach the level of Backdraft.- Review date: 12/4/15, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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