Phoenix headbangers Blessthefall aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel—their third full-length, Awakening, isn’t going to shock you with some radical reinvention of modern metalcore or death metal that the likes of As I Lay Dying, Darkest Hour or At The Gates somehow neglected to unleash over the years. Instead, BTF use the balance of Awakening to show listeners that the five-piece know exactly who they are, where they come from, and most importantly, what their band does best. And really, that’s plenty.
The key to pulling it off is BTF’s confidence. Choosing to once again work with producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Escape The Fate, Incubus), BTF have labored to tweak, emphasize and otherwise build upon the strongest parts of 2009’s Witness, while not undergoing some kind of pretentious “maturation” or worse yet, dumbing themselves down to try and appeal to the masses. The album is proudly metalcore, from the barrage of noodly, melodic guitar licks that shredder Eric Lambert lays down to the consistent sing-scream vocals, to the pulsing double-bass-driven breakdowns that turn nearly every track into obvious mosh-pit fuel (drummer Matt Traynor totally kills it throughout). The great success is BTF’s ability to fuse all these various stylistic elements together in their proper proportion, and they do it pretty flawlessly (perhaps thanks to Baskette’s editing), so no specific parts ever become monotonous, and the album rarely drags, yet the songs are surprisingly concise and focused in their structures.
Although the album breaks little new ground and there’s not much crossover appeal—sweater-clad hipsters won’t suddenly find a reason to start rocking out to Blessthefall—for fans of the band and genre, Awakening is a clear-cut scorcher, between the stellar musicianship and Baskette’s gargantuan production. Rather than reaching to try and be something they’re not, Blessthefall have already wisely shown that knowing one’s place in the universe can be a pretty stellar thing.