Sound: Dead To Fall has carved out an interesting niche within the rock world, specifically that of a sci-fi metalcore band. It actually makes for a refreshing and oddly intriguing twist on the usual metalcore sound, although at times they could probably even go further than they do with the shtick. You get all sorts of wacky, melodramatic effects that color each of the tracks on Dead To Fall's new album Are You Serious?, and it adds a dose of humor to the metal genre as well.
The opening track IQ Test actually has a somewhat subdued intro in terms of tempo, but it works for the mood the band is trying to create. You hear jingly percussion, haunting whispers, guitar feedback, and the most satisfying addition -- a villainous, evil laugh. When you finally get into the heart of the song, there is a really well-done scale-based guitar riff that stands out more than anything. It would have actually been cool if the band would have carried out the haunting effects throughout more of the song, but that's not to say that it's still not a strong song otherwise.
The Future is the most impressive and unusual track on Are You Serious?, with the band bringing out a theremin (the instrument that makes the spooky, high-pitched sounds in all of those '50s horror flicks) for a good part of it. Some might think the theremin is a cheesy addition, but Dead To Fall was able to make it much more memorable because of its presence. The track feels a little crazy at times because of the interesting tempo and the overall arrangement, but that aspect is a perfect way to transition out of the dramatic beginning.
Dead To Fall doesn't carry the spooky theme into every song, and it's actually a bit disappointing when they go au naturale. Songs like Stupid, Doombox, and Sleeping Bag have good elements, but fail to deliver the effect of the larger-than-life IQ Test or The Future. Even so, guitarists Logan Kelly and Phil Merriman still deliver some very nice licks throughout that easily stand out even when things get too predictable. // 8
Lyrics: You might not always be able to understand the lyrics on Are You Serious thanks to the gruff growls of vocalist Jonathan D. Hunt, but it's actually satisfying to know that the sci-fi theme carries over lyrically in at least one of the tracks. According to a comment on the band's MySpace page, The Future is about a fated man sent into the future to save the world from a super-massive robot. From what I can tell, not all the tracks follow this fantastical of a theme, and it wouldn't hurt to bring in a little bit more of the futuristic themes. // 8
Overall Impression: While Dead To Fall might not be among the top metalcore bands out there, it still has a memorable and entertaining sound that shouldn't be discounted. If you like your metal serious and angry, Dead To Fall will likely get on your nerves. But if you're open to the idea of a band that experiments with different sounds, instruments, and sci-fi themes, Are You Serious? will be a CD that you'll find yourself wanting to play more than once. You have to give them credit for being able to create a cinematic feel to it all, which is something not every band can accomplish. // 8