Album Review – Hard Feelings by blessthefall (Rise Records)

American metalcore band, blessthefall, have just released their 6th studio album called Hard Feelings. Hard Feelings was released on the 23rd of March and is the first to be released on the band’s new label, Rise Records.

Blessthefall consist of founding members Matt Traynor on drums and Jared Warth on vocals. Jared was originally the band’s bassist before moving onto keyboards and finally vocals. With those guys we have Eric Lambert on lead guitar and Elliott Gruenberg on rhythm guitar. Last up is Beau Bokan on vocals and keyboards.

Following on from 2015’s, To Those Left Behind, Hard Feelings is described by the band as an evolution in their sound. What that means to the listener is that Hard feelings is actually quite a significant sidestep to a diluted and more radio friendly sound. If you like blessthefall, the riffs, the frenetic metalcore energy, well, look away now. Beau Bokan has confidently stated that “the band hope to be at the forefront of modern rock, taking influence from a more commercial and marketable sound”. To their credit, they have been open and honest about the direction they are going in so nobody should be too surprised.

Hard Feelings

Hard Feelings has 10 tracks on it and is just under 38 minutes long in total. In regards to being more marketable a sound, I imagine blessthefall are very pleased with how Hard Feelings turned out. The keyboards have a much bigger role in the band now, often being at the forefront and there is hardly any shouting, or even raised voices here at all. The issue is that I like heavy metal and this strays far from the genre. Again, that isn’t a surprise. The band have been clear on this change but it is still a little disappointing.

Once you do scrape through the layers of polished and prissy emotion, there are some half decent rock songs on here. Album opener, Wishful Sinking starts with some atmospheric keys before kicking in to a nice crunchy riff. It does fade out the clean singing but is pretty catchy and has some heavier backing vocals and a small, but neat breakdown near the end. Melodramatic has a little heaviness creep in near the end but the rest of the song is a little, well, melodramatic.

Cutthroat is one of the better songs on Hard Feelings with the drums finally letting loose and some neat guitar lines. Heavy sections are constantly interrupted by clean singing but it isn’t bad.

The last track on the album is completely off field, sounding like a made for popularity pop punk track with a quick beat and catchy, bouncy rhythm. It sounds so out of place it is ridiculous but it is actually a really decent, fun track. Outside of these though I find the majority of the album to be whiny and lacking any real drive or imagination. The ballad like track, Sakura Blues, punctuated by some decent guitars, is yawn inducing. Sleepless in Phoenix is dull and uninspired sounding like many other generic rock tracks in existence.

Keep Me Close has a promising start with a decent riff and solid guitar solo. Again though, that quickly descends into the same over produced, commercial sound of the rest of the album. I’m Over Being Under (rated) again offers lots and delivers little. A fast and furious riff and drum beat kicks it off before it descends into forgettable and boring. The story of a great portion of the album unfortunately.

Disappointed doesn’t really cover it. Credit to the band for pulling off exactly what they apparently were aiming for. If you had asked me to describe an album that was well polished, commercial, marketable and radio friendly I would probably have said it sounds like it will be dull, whiny, lack any real passion and be boring. It is. A couple decent tracks and a couple decent moments within tracks show a glimpse of blessthefall’s old sound but there isn’t enough. I wish them every success with their new venture but Hard Feelings isn’t for me.

As always, you should still give it a go as it might be for you. You can grab it on all the usual streaming sites now. You can also pick up a copy from Rise Records or from the Amazon links below. Find out more about blessthefall over on Facebook, Twitter, their official website and Instagram. Be sure to give them a like while you are there.

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Hard Feelings by blessthefall (Rise Records)
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