1. No Retreat No Surrender
2. Fraction of Distress
3. Bishops Yard
4. You Made Me Wrong
5. A Cry in Despair
2006 Panic Records
With the overflowing waves of mascara-caked crybaby boy bands, it's nice to revel in good ol' fashioned hardcore. Not that When We Fall could be categorized as such so easily. They don't sound like the forbears. This is not more of that bullet-belted 80s rehash that makes the formerly self-described 'screamos' of online media like Viva La Vinyl trade in their Usurp Synapse eight-inches for rare Fucked Up seven-inches.
When We Fall ooze posi-core late 90s style. Their Swedish brethren Separation come to mind. They peel off speedy, full throttle hardcore riffs laced with larynx shredded screaming. For once a band wisely jettisons the "melodic" singing for non-stop harsh howling. With added youth crew gang chants, this is epic no frills hardcore that labels like Bridge 9 and Rivalry churn out on conveyor belts.
The above descriptions might lead one to erroneously surmise that When We Fall wallows in one-dimensional songs, banging out rote fast hardcore like they have cookie cutters for guitars. Despite an over-reliance on the monotone fast 4/4 beat, WWF allow hints of variation. On "Fraction and Distress" the boys ease back to allow a drum and vocals-only passage. It's an effective departure that would work wonders on other songs.
"Bishop's Yard" commences with an acoustic interlude, marked by compelling arpeggio guitar work. The song then sprints into hyper speed. Such dynamics also complement the title song, which features interesting tempo shifts. Also notable are the histrionic screams collapsing into blood-soaked yelps by the song's end. The singer sounds on the verge of tears, braying over the acoustic guitar that closes the EP.
Many of his lyrics suggest a desire to exorcise personal, ahem, 'emotional' demons. Lines such as "I am hiding my cries in the hope which is left" and "Longing for the calm of a child's mind" paint a tenebrous portrait of a man seeking solace in desperate music. We know what 'emo' music sounds like these days. But When We Fall demonstrate how deceptive it is to insinuate that traditional "hardcore" music is somehow bereft of emotion.
Despite their kinetic, tightly wound rhythmic assault, WWF could use a dash of variety in their musicianship. The drums and guitars rely too heavily on the same beats and octave riffs. These songs prove the band can form a formidable foundation. Now they need to build upon it, and expand their palette.
Bottom Line: Like the cinematic karate classic alluded to in the first song, When We Fall kicks ass. The band boasts the drive, energy and passion of all the greats. Now they need to carve a chunk of their own niche. This EP is hopefully a mere taste of what's to come.
"This is not more of that bullet-belted 80s rehash that makes the formerly self-described 'screamos' of online media like Viva La Vinyl trade in their Usurp Synapse eight-inches for rare f*cked Up seven-inches.".............................. what does this even mean?