I’m willing to bank that most of you have never heard of the term Mathcore (a subdivision of hardcore), outside your statistics class at the local JC. As always, I’m here to educate you on what you might otherwise be missing. Like Robert Glasper and his insane piano precision with jazz, today’s band under review, The Fall of Troy, uses peculiar timing that somehow comes together with mathematical precision.
Power trios are few and far between, but the founding members of The Fall of Troy have been at it since they were 17 years old. Unfortunately, original bassist Tim Ward left the band a few years back because of stress related issues (and apparently the way he dealt with them). I was relieved however that one of my kinfolk was lucky enough to be chosen to take his place. I’m talking about Frank “Black” Ene, formerly the lead guitar and vocals from Of Stalwart Fads.
Why “Black”? Well in case you haven’t scrolled down to the picture of the band, hes the black one. I find this a personal accomplishment, because it’s finally becoming “cool” to like this kind of music as a black person. And of course, Frank plays my instrument of choice, while assisting front man and lead guitarist Thomas Erak.
Thomas Erak is an enigma, but just like that rusty ol’ machine from the Second World War, it operated with a strange mathematical precision, revealing its secrets in the form of the band’s latest album, In the Unlikely Event. What I also find endearing about Thomas, is that his voice range is very extreme, with the ability to hit high notes one second, with a throaty scream the next. He has been nodded to several times for his guitar ability as well, with sounds and styles I had until The Fall of Troy, never really conceptualized.
On this album, and the ones before it, drummer Andrew Forsman keeps every hit in his set up strong and clipped to perfection. What I love about his drum work is his ability to sneak in another hit in between what you are expecting; if that’s even possible to expect where this band is going. What’s more, is the note matching to the guitar on the new album. I hadn’t really noticed it as much on previous albums, but this one has many of those moments.
But I digress.
With their late 2008 EP, Phantom on the Horizon, we were greeted with the first taste of Black to the band. The album told the story of a Spanish galleon that has an encounter with a ghost ship from regions beyond, with a droning intro worthy of Tales from the Black Freighter. Told in five parts (the second being my favorite) was a taste of the new musical level the band was on; a prelude to what we would discover to be a love/hate story with In the Unlikely Event.
In the Unlikely Event gets right to business with the track Panic Attack!, an endearing song about have just that. It captures the thoughts that go through one’s mind when we blame ourselves for something that clearly is beyond our control. This leads to confusion and lying, in this case set to a grinding breakdown at 1:20.
The fourth track, A Classic Case of Transference embodies a conversation to a once loved female, who has apparently turned into a whore. In response, Thom has focused on keeping himself afloat. For some reason I felt like this song took to circus music-esque bridges, which would go well with the tone of the song.
One of the more wild songs was track eight, Dirty Pillow Talk. Not only is the introduction guitar on a sci fi level of confusion, but Rody Walker, lead singer of hardcore band Protest the Hero makes an appearance as well. At about the second minute of the song, there’s also is sickening wordless breakdown by the trio that it worthy of giving a listen.
I loved the direction of this album from the upbeat guitar intro of Panic Attack! to the ending track Nature vs. Nurture, feeling like what AFI should be sounding like these days. The final track even has the classic echoing “whoa oh”s that we came to love with Davey Havok and his crew; and we even are treated to an intense few lines of poetry, strong spoken, not sang.
However, the best song on this album for me had to be Battleship Graveyard, with its robustly confusing timing, with breaks during the verses that have the guitar and drums matching each other note-for-note. Erak takes time to hold extra long vocal notes, before yelling my favorite line “barely here, you’re losing your touch my dear”. The breakdown at 1:37 drops the tempo to about 80 percent of the original, with a secondary and auxiliary breakdown that slows the song to 60 and 50 percent respectively before picking back up.
We then are serenaded again at 2:46, before finally pounding our bones to dust with another round of a rollercoaster of breakdowns, and back to the note-for-note matching, and final punishing on Thom’s vocal cords, and word of warning to the unfortunate girl this song was aimed at.
That may have been the most descriptive I’ve ever been about a song. But when you’re dealing with mathcore, are you really that surprised?
The Fall of Troy has given us fans a new instant classic (yes I realize the juxtaposition), and will have new listeners getting out their calculators in the unlikely event that they try to decipher what the hell is going on in this album. See what I did there? Heh.
Until next time my friends,