Sound — 8
For those familiar with Dead To Fall, this is the album we've all been waiting for. And for those yet to discover them, it will surely draw them in. First off, the recording quality on this album is a giant leap forward from "Villainy & Virtue." The guitars are clear, gritty, and both tracks are audible throughout the entire album. Jon Hunt has refined his death metal growl and even added some high pitch screaming here and there, and exhibits much more fluency with pitch change and consonant pronounciation. Drum and bass are, as always, very tight and very heavy. What really amazes me about the sound of this album is the songwriting. After countless lineup changes (through only three albums), Dead To Fall is still maintaining a degree of progression many musicians fight for their entire careers. They've taken that european metal flavor and spiced it up just a little more, adding vibrant spurts of color in between brutal drum/guitar riffs. The rhytyms are stuttering and unpredictable, the guitar solos aren't just tremolo picking, and harmonization goes beyond octaved guitar fills. They recorded this album in drop-B tuning, just as "Villainy & Virtue," but the tonal variety complements the rhythymic stylings in a much more cohesive manner.
Lyrics — 6
There are going to be people that say Jon Hunt has sold out and given in to the "emo" movement taking place in much of hardcore today; I think he's just getting more honest. While past Dead to Fall lyrics haven't exactly been positive, they also haven't been so descriptive or, at times, coherent. Song content is also more interesting, taking inspiration from such things as shark attacks (Chum Fiesta) and love (Smoke And Mirrors) instead of the usual life or death scenario. The vocal recording is much more crisp, and on first listen you will take notice that the wait between albums was not for nothing. Hunt's growl is deeper, his scream is now a scream, and his intensity is only getting stronger.
Overall Impression — 8
This is, though narrowly, the best effort by DTF on shelves today. It harnesses the raw intensity of "Everything I Touch..." with the hardcore sensibility of "Villainy & Virtue," with a little bit of musicianship on top. I'd replace it, over and over again. Tracks to check out: Smoke And Mirrors, Chum Fiesta, Guillotine Dream (Slow Drugs).