Review || Fallbrawl - "Darkness"

Fallbrawl is releasing their 5th studio album, "Darkness", on November 8 2019 via BDHW. The album comes about four years after the acclaimed "Chaos Reigns", which saw the band embracing more metallic elements in their sound and now the Ruhrpott outfit is back, continuing to pave their way into the European hardcore scene. My relationship with Fallbrawl starts at the warm-up of a summer festival back in 2017, where their ballsy AF metallic hardcore left me a memorable impression and I was very curious to see what the guys had up their sleeves with this new effort.

Containing 10 tracks, the album was recorded by Dave Beule, formerly of Vitja, and mixed/mastered by Manuel Cohnen, who was also behind "Chaos Reigns". The very first thing the listener will notice is that "Darkness" in large lives up to its name. The ambient intro of "Welcome To Reality" is shortly interrupted by heavily distorted guitars and assaulting vocals. The multifaceted character of the album begins now to unravel. You really thought that the vague (and quite dangerous) "metallic hardcore" label would trap the band inside a box, didn't you? Well, my friends, it's not the case. Not totally, at least. While in its core "Darkness" is a modern hardcore album, it's also a very ambitious move. First of all, it combines many different and very diverse sonic elements. While the breakdowns and pummeling rhythm section is a force to be reckoned with, there are subtle D-beat traits, blackened guitars, mildly thrash metal references and modern metalcore (read: Darkest Hour/Heaven Shall Burn-ish) vibes, and of course the tiniest bit of cleaner singing. Initially, all these sound like a huge gamble but thankfully, it's true that fortune favors the bold. Then, we need to acknowledge that writing songs with constant tempo and style changes is not exactly a walk in the park and it also doesn't easily work out. In "Darkness", you will see songs like "Nebula", a personal favorite, where ferocity and melody are equally present as we go from the catchy first half of the track to the neck-breaking middle, and are then greeted by a beautiful melodic lead at the 04:00 minute mark.
Finally, one of the great assets of the album are the strategic guest performances; Ricky from Lionheart, Dave Beule (ex-Vitja), Dennis from Any Given Day and Florian from Broken Humanity. The choices are proven highly successful, as they help bring more dynamic nuences to the already hard-hitting compositions.

Overall, "Darkness" is a very brazen album. Fallbrawl continue thinking out of th ebox and taking chances that would otherwise be considered too risky. The fundaments of the album are built on aggression. The scarce touches of melody only come forward when absolutely needed and even then, everything is calculated. The songs flow very well while some rough edges on the produciton help further bring out the details. The only thing that personally baffles me is that sometimes the guitar leads sound sort of detached from the rest of the instrumentation, earning more time in the spotlight. Regardless, Fallbrawl definitely won this round and I'm really looking forward to listening to these songs live.
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