Despite being at times scoffed at by purists of the genre, blessthefall have made a career out of being one of the more widely accessible bands in metalcore; to the point where calling them metalcore in itself raises an eyebrow or two. If the first bands you think of when the genre springs to mind are At The Gates or early Killswitch Engage, then blessthefall’s anthemic bellows will most likely have never quite been your cup of tea.
Regardless of whether the quintet fits into your frame of what metalcore is, the band’s youthful enigma has amassed a following for the Arizonians that’s not to be underestimated – mostly down to the melodic range of vocalist Beau Bokan‘s voice.
Sixth studio album Hard Feelings comes with very little shock value, the familiar blessthefall style of punchy verses and climactic crescendo’s remain throughout – meaning that if you’re already a fan, you’ll feel right at home here. The skyscraper choruses of ‘Sleepless In Phoenix’ and ‘Feeling Low’ are destined to be sung in unison live with gang vocals and simple yet produced to perfection guitar lines; it’s predictable with just enough charm to make it interesting.
There’s little on the record that pushes any boundaries though, and lyrics like ‘Cuthroat‘s’ “Fuck all y’all you can suck my dick” don’t do much to change a sceptic’s mind, but Beau Bokan and co keep enough in the tank to remain at least credible throughout. Oral sex lyrics, Crossfaith like techno breakdowns, and child spoken word segments aside though, and Hard Feelings is a record that shows genuine songwriting craftsmanship in the odd area.
‘Sakura Blues’ and ‘Wishful Sinking’ are an inescapable festival of vocal hooks from Bokan, and anyone with a taste for smooth melody will have their senses cleansed here. While the record struggles at times to make an impact beyond its emphasis on vocals, Hard Feelings is a record that undoubtedly caters for its audience and never creates an attempt to break away from blessthefall’s youthful tropes.
At this point in their career, another average blessthefall record does little to damage their reputation, if there fan-base are still listening by this point then there’s nothing here that will see them turn away. But by the same token – Hard Feelings does little to progress the band as musicians, and at some point, you’d have to expect that interest in the band will inevitably dwindle.