Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fallstaf - Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed

Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed
Independent Release

The use of horns within metal isn’t entirely new, with many acts throughout the years incorporating the use of horned instruments into their repertoire to add shades of funk, groove, jazz or the avant-garde to their overall sound. Examples that come to mind are acts such as Mr. Bungle and Fishbone, but in terms of incorporating horns into a metal act on a full-time basis, the list is relatively short.
On that rather short list is Montreal (Canada) based outfit Fallstaf, who have recently released their debut full-length effort ‘Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed’ – the follow-up to their demo E.P. ‘The Hitman Plays Trombone’ from 2009.
Despite their striking image (Two of the members have bizarre contact lenses, and trombonist The Hitman dons a wrestling mask of sorts), and their own genre tag to describe their sound (Brass metal no less), Fallstaf (Who comprise of vocalist Iann, guitarist Simm, trombonist The Hitman, bassist Benn Forte and drummer Matt) haven’t quite managed to break into completely new territory with their latest release. But at the very least, ‘Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed’ is an entertaining listen, and does give the band something to build upon.
The opening track ‘Dark Days’ is one of the album’s stand-out tracks, which not so surprisingly, allows the trombone to stand out right from the offset, and announces to the listener that while there’s plenty of aggression shown throughout the track (Particularly in terms of the riffing and Iann’s growled vocals), it’s the trombone that is the backbone of the band in the musical sense.
The follow up track ‘The Cost’ (Which is the first single lifted from the album) is another great track where the combination of heavy grooved based metal and trombone is well balanced and interesting, while on the slower paced ‘Eulogy’, Iann showcases his ability to shift between clean and aggressive vocals, which helps give the band a little more depth on the diversity front.
Unfortunately, not everything works quite as well as the opening trio of tracks, particularly on the song writing front. Although boasting plenty of aggression, ‘Not Welcome’ lacks a strong chorus to make the song really stand out, while Iann’s vocals on ‘Pull The Knife’ and ‘Fuck The Fence’ sound a little too out of place, which inevitably gives the song an overall inconsistency that borders on O.K. and unlistenable.
‘My Demons’ is a passable and solid enough track for the most part, but is surprisingly enough overshadowed with its acoustic brother elsewhere on the album (Which is by far my personal favourite on the album), while tracks such as the sinister sounding ‘The Hounds’ and the all-out chaos of the closer ‘Violent As Violence Can Be’ represent the pick from the remainder of the album.
Fallstaf has latched onto a sound on ‘Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed’ that very few have really pursued. But while the band can be commended on that front, it’s their song writing that ultimately lets them down.
If the band keeps working on writing strong songs with choruses that really have a big impact, and incorporate the trombone in unison with the guitars beyond what the ska scene have been doing for years, then they’ll surely be a force to be reckoned with. But as it stands, ‘Bastard Sons Of A Pure Breed’ is nothing more than an O.K. album that is if anything, entertaining rather than groundbreaking.

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© Justin Donnelly