Life can be pretty daunting when embarking on a new journey. There’s always a multitude of unknown factors that come into the fold, which can lead one to ponder if what lies ahead is worth the tumultuous blockades you could encounter. Sometimes though you have to take that seemingly gargantuan leap, and say to hell with the consequences. Bands are one group of individuals whose career can bring them face to face with this predicament in many ways. Blessthefall have recently made a few changes to the bands direction, that many could only assume led the group to some difficult times and decisions. In 2017 rumors started circulating that the metalcore/post hardcore veterans had severed ties with their label of many years, Fearless Records, and were shopping around for a new one with which to release their next studio album. Finally on January 26, 2018 the news was confirmed, followed by an announcement that they had signed with Rise Records, and would be releasing their next album entitled Hard Feelings on March 23. A new label, and new musical elements would bring forth the future of Blessthefall.
Starting out this wonderfully new direction for the group’s latest effort is “Wishful Sinking”. A clever play on words, especially when paired with the rest of the songs lyrics. The track speaks to a concept that all too many would be familiar with; a one sided relationship. You have put your heart and soul into being with this other person, only to know you’re the only one putting forth the effort to make it something special. Lies and deceit are the only thing keeping the other party afloat (if you will), but all the while you see right through their facade. The group did a more than phenomenal job in matching its musicianship to the songs lyrical content. The song begins with an electronic fueled intro combined with echoing drums and group “Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh”‘s, leading into a beautifully technical guitar riff. The verse backed by melancholy-tinged sounds and samples which magnify the impact of every word sung. The breakdown is the musical highlight of the entire track. Heavy guitars, bass, and drums intertwined with heavily synthesized keyboards, ultimately conveying an instrumental induced feeling of drowning. This was a perfect song to choose as a single after salivating fans were waiting for more.
One of the more noticeable changes in sound on Hard Feelings is that throughout the record, electronic elements are much more prevalent than on previous efforts from Blessthefall. Not only is this an entirely welcome addition as a whole, but completely adds to the feel and lyrical nuances of each track. “Find Yourself” being a perfect example. The song almost begins as if it could be the start of a dance song you’d be swaying to at a beach party, but swiftly kicks into high gear with the standard accoutrement of any rock related band. The keyboards which lead into the verse and are mirrored in the choruses are a stellar accentuating touch when paired with similar sounding chords heavily strummed on the guitars and bass. It truly is a difficult situation to be in when you have no idea who and what you really are. What can be even more pressing when struggling with your identity, is how to properly interact with anyone else. Sometimes you must branch out on your own, take all of your past mistakes and learnings and use them almost as a metaphorical map to discover what it is that makes you tick. To find yourself. For those listeners out there struggling with such a juncture in their life, this song may the push you need to recognize this.
The majority of Hard Feelings takes Blessthefall in a ‘softer’ direction than their past albums. There are much less break your neck breakdowns, clean vocals rule over screams, and any form of blast beats are few and far between. But for the heavy crunching fans of Blessthefall‘s heavy hitters, you have not been forgotten, nor has that ingredient been left out of Hard Feelings entirely. “Cutthroat” is absolutely as vicious as its name implies. This will assuredly be the track which brings the masses to the mosh pit in droves. ‘You can’t say shit ya little pale bastard, and fuck all y’all, suck my dick!’. A fitting quote considering what comes next is a ballistic bombing of intense instrumentals with which to bang your head to. The rhythm in which the guitars and drums are hit takes over your limbic system and you have no choice but to head bang along. This is the song in which bassist/vocalist Jared Warth, has his biggest reign of the forefront on the album. Beau’s tone in which he sings the choruses is more than enough when giving you that sense of urgency that the lyrics (and the track) mean business before even actually paying attention to what’s being said. When the breakdown hits the crowd it’s a metaphorical certainty that some throats will be cut.
“Sakura Blues” brings forth one of the more melodic and sentimentally charged tracks on Hard Feelings. Once again a song which was more than well thought out when pairing the perfect electronic aspects to the perfect sounding instruments, the keyboards and samples only amplify the sullen and sad sound the song hopes to convey. To be in so in love, but to make all the wrong choices which ultimately lead to you being left with nothing can be one of the most heart crushing experiences of anyone’s life, but perhaps hearing these lyrics can lead that soul forsaken fan to feel less alone. This song above all others on the record is one where lead vocalist Beau Bokan absolutely shines. His choice of vocal melodies stunningly take the lead above any and all instrumentals, and truly lead the songs feeling and direction.
On any metalcore/post hardcore record, it’s completely commonplace for the lyrical content to be based on the loss of love, the struggles of life, depression is typically the prevailing subject matter on many a song. What can be a welcome addition is a track in which the message is one of accomplishment and positivity, albeit there may have been strife along the way. “Welcome Home” serves as the channel in which this sentiment is conveyed on Hard Feelings. The song begins with Beau softly delivering his vocals over a palm muted guitar that focuses on the upbeat, but has an almost hidden feeling of struggle or sadness it wishes to pair for added measure. This sentiment is quite fitting seeing as sometimes to reach that point of feeling whole, feeling welcome, feeling happy can be met by difficulties along the way. The intro leads into a perfect pairing of guitars reminiscent of a rock’n’roll ballad and electronic elements which are merely added to underline the overall message of the song. In place of a breakdown more fitted for a heavier track, is a guitar solo which regardless of its intention or not serves to lift your spirit to an almost euphoric state. The true heart of the song though lies in the ending. Both Beau and his young daughter, Rocket Wild Bokan, singing the chorus in unison. This adds a wondrous beauty to the song in which even the blackest of hearts would surely shed a tear. Rocket Wild Bokan’s angelic young voice sung along side her father was a beautifully perfect way in which to end the group’s magnificent new endeavor.
As frightening and unsure taking big bold risks in life can be, one should never be too afraid to take that chance. There will be more than a few moments in anyone’s life where what stands in front of them is a crossroads of which they will have no idea which way to go. This could happen in a career choice, the loss or gain of a loved one, deciding whether or not to move to that new state or country, it could be something so small or the hugest of risks, but sometimes that’s exactly what it takes to move on to the next chapter of your life. Both the album title and lyrical messages are the perfect examples of exactly this. All of which was stated before can absolutely lead to hard feelings, and the songs on this album can be your anthem throughout. Blessthefall must have faced some hard feelings of their own when deciding to change their label and what direction to go from there. This album proves to the world that when you’ve set your heart and mind to something no matter the size of the feat, you can and will accomplish all you’ve set forth to. Hard Feelings is Blessthefall‘s new journey that fans around the world will be happy to take with them.