“Everything Went Black”
June 11, 2013 - Bridge Nine
After a breakup lasting from 2007 to 2010, Boysetsfire are back with a new album, their first in nearly seven years, and it doesn’t disappoint. While A Nation Sleeps... is more of a staple Boysetsfire album than its predecessor, 2006’s The Misery Index: Notes From The Plague Years, which found the band exploring the more experimental sides of their patented emotional hardcore sound. Here, the Newark, Delaware five-piece have written one of their most cohesive melodic hardcore albums, right up in line with 2000’s After The Eulogy, which many consider to be their best album.
Everything that has made Boysetsfire an essential hardcore band since they formed in the mid-’90s fits into the right spots on this new album. First and foremost, vocalist Nathan Gray’s impassioned scream is more balls-out than ever (see the unhinged “Everything Went Black” and the heart-wrenching “Heads Will Roll”), but his singing parts on more melodic fare such as “Closure” and “Phone Call (4am)” are also pitch perfect, something that was a bit lacking on The Misery Index. Guitarists and songwriters Chad Istvan and Joshua Latshaw have brought some great songs to the mix this time out. Tunes like “Far From Over” and “Wolves Of Babylon” feature riffs that would make a few modern metalcore bands shut down their rigs and go back to working at the guitar shop. Meanwhile, the more melodic Boysetsfire songs sound better than ever; real fist-pumping anthems that are far more deserving of radio play than most modern-rock bullshit.
Of course, the band’s politics are firmly intact on While A Nation Sleeps...—only Propagandhi and Shai Hulud can claim to be as on point as Boysetsfire when it comes to taking the powers-that-be to task, criticizing organized religion and the industrialized military, among others. Sure, their overall sound is a little dated (scream, sing, rinse, repeat), but there’s always room in the heavy music scene for Boysetsfire. In fact, if they keep making albums as good as While A Nation Sleeps... we’ll go ahead and hold a place for them in hardcore’s hallowed halls.