Not many bands on the scene nowadays have as much as experience as After The Fall. Most don't evolve at all, playing the same thing over and over again, not making the slightest effort to break make-shift convention, and in a year or two, deem themselves as "failed" and break up. Well, no, not After the Fall. The release of "Unkind" marks the ten years that After the Fall have been kicking ass. Blood, sweat and beer, these guys have paved their own path, without anyone's help, and carved a solid image of a hardworking, ass-kicking, d-beating and an overall amazingly talented band.
Musically, Unkind has stands as a culmination of everything the band has done. It presents the raw hardcore outlook of "Eradication" and the double guitar harmony of "Everything", sort of a chip of the old and respected "Fort Orange", but on steroids. The album is the most widely accepted definition of Melodic Hardcore. The style is truly unique and can not be imitated.
1. Unkind (8/10)
Unlike Eradication, this album opens with a fast song, which is in all essentiality, very melodic. Also, unlike past releases which lacked a professional writing process, the lyrics blend right in with guitar. Skatepunk harmonies are super evident here,something we have not heard since "Fort Orange", as is the implicit positive outlook. The lyrics are benevolent, "Be honest to your (remove!) yourself, teach your son to do the same and things will work out."
Unkind sets a theme for the album, "Life is Unkind." In retrospect, it's quite beautiful.
2. TIlburg (7/10)
Emotionally charged or damaged? This is an After the Fall song, no mistake. Jagged vocals, an aggressive driving guitar, but this time, there's a wandering melodic guitar and a badass solo, shifting betwwen to guitarist. It's just not as fast.
3. Disunion (6/10)
After the Fall is a hardcore band with skatepunk influence, or perhaps the other way round. Screaming vocals and melodic guitar lines. It's cool, but a slight overkill? Once again, the lyrics are placed very well, as "I just want to be a better person than you." comes right at the break(down).
4. Wrong (6/10)
Forgive me, but this song sounds like Modern Life is a War, with a touch of ATF. as the song speeds up, you just think to yourself, "What the fuck does Chris Millington smoke in the morning." He should have been arrested a long time ago for over-speeding,
5. Controlled (5/10)
This song is short and fast, but sounds a lot like the rest of the album. The chord progressions are overdone and predictable. Even though its fast, its a bit boring.
6. Attention Dependent (6/10)
The Hardcore theme continues, but this song is a lot more entertaining. Sadly, this too is "musical overkill". However, the lyrics pose an interesting notion. "Living an artificial life of pre-fabricated fashions and a medicated mind", it's depressing.
7. Writers Block (7/10)
This song is for the "Fort Orange" fans. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are catchy, the song is fast and the lyrics are realistic. "The best ideas will come and go. How do I always forget? I need to feel that connection, I need that song in my ear. I need that spark to ignite, I need to hear it loud and clear. Where is the rhyme, and where is the melody? I can't find the words to sing."
8. Back and Forth (7/10)
It's melodic and fast, quite anthemic. This song is like a buoy of positivity in the album. Traditional ATF.
9. Double Negative (6/10)
Once again, this song is quite depressing. Health problems and mental dilemmas, it gives a painful insight into everyday life. The song ends on a stinging last note, "But if home is where the heart is, than I suppose I lost my home a long, long time ago."
10. Screwers (6/10)
I appreciate the musicianship. It's intense, it's punctual and it's brutal. The production is raw but After the Fall has really drifted away from the conventional skatepunk sound, this is hardcore, no ifs, no buts. Will this draw the attention of newer fans, or will it push away the old ones? Lyrically its very sad, an inherent theme through out the album.
11. Cathedral (7/10)
Fully charged, this song is fast and full of emotion and sentiment. Its riper than the other songs.
12. Decade (8/10)
The entire album drowns you in a sea of complexity and heavy thought, but this song, it makes me happy. It justifies every other song, musically and lyrically. In this song, Mike admits to his health and personal problems, accounting them to his life on the road. But punk enough, he wouldn't trade those ten years of hurt, because this music meant the world. A lot of us and relate and admire his determination. It's a great song.
After Decade, it hurts me to say, but the album is quite dark. It's an interesting listen but its no Fort Orage. Perhaps After the Fall set the bar unusually high with that record. Unkind is worth the purchase and the listen, and the musicianship is incredible, but as a collection of songs, it is a bit monotonous. Congratulations to ATF on the ten years, the good record and the years to come.