Us progressive metallers Deadfall has come a long way since their striking debut the New Light EP of 2011. Then the creation and duo of guitarist Eddie Kim and bassist Sean Dusoe, the band instantly impressed whilst showing a rich potential within their instrumentals which was realised much more with the following Sentinel EP. By then a sextet, the Massachusetts band pushed on their already enthralling potency and explored to great effect the elements which within its predecessor were still in its infancy. Utilising vocals and a fuller climate of invention and sound, the second EP set a benchmark for the band which their new album The First Harbinger emulates and at times takes to richer and incendiary levels. There is a rawer intensity to the release which roars through the accomplished fusion of progressive metal and djent rapacity but also a maturity and conciseness to the intricate weaves of sonic ideation and varied vocal incitement. There is arguably nothing ground-breaking on the album, an achievement you feel is within the potential of the band as The First Harbinger seduces and gnaws on ears, but few encounters bred from the same genre have left as lingering a temptation and pleasure this year.
As mentioned the Watertown based Deadfall initially was an instrumental duo taking inspirations from the likes of Periphery, TesseracT, Meshuggah, Cloudkicker, and Animals As Leaders into their invention but it was with the addition of vocalist Chris Greene that arguably their sound suddenly found its most potent substance. Whereas the first EP gave the imagination and emotions a hunger for the horizons of the band it was the fuller and rounded endeavour of Sentinel which set sparks flying. Completed by guitarist Kyle Brennan and drummer Marc Brennan, the band easily thrilled and set up an eager anticipation for their debut full-length. Created by the core trio of Kim, Dusoe, and Greene, The First Harbinger is at ease ripping and twisting chunks out of the senses or soaking them in a warm seductive elegance, at times succeeding in doing both at once. It is a loud declaration from the band, one you suspect to push Deadfall into the brightest spotlight within progressive/technical metal.
The release opens with the instantly intriguing Death Code. From its first second the track sparks in the imagination, an opening entwining of raw riffs honed into a magnetic groove enslaving attention and an appetite already lying in wait because of those earlier releases. Once it expels its muscular breath and explodes with a torrent of djent inspired antagonism and agitated sinew swinging rhythms, the track comes alive with contagious hostility and compelling bait. The vocals of Greene roar with angst and passion, squalling over every syllable yet hinting at the seductive mellowness he also processes in his delivery. With a great carnivorous throat to the bass and its gripping invention, and a similarly predacious temperament to the guitars, the track is a dramatic protagonist which intimidates and seduces with equal tenacity. That smooth vocal charm of Greene does make its appearance within the song, that moment offering Palms like enticement within the otherwise rigorously aggressive tone of the track. It is a scintillating start to the encounter soon backed up by Sentinel.
The second track is just as creatively imposing and skilfully imaginative with Greene soaring melodically over the jagged enticement of Kim’s guitars and the rawer captivating weight of Dusoe’s bass. Though in many ways the song is a kinder less forceful provocation than its predecessor it still carries a menace and flirtation which entwines to create a riveting and imposing adventure. It is hard to avoid references to Deftones with the song but also thoughts takes whispers of TesseracT and Meshuggah into what is nevertheless a distinctly fresh and thrilling encounter. The same applies to The Divergence, the following track kissing the senses with an opening shimmer of crystalline melodies and warm enchantment before sculpting a voracious spine of jagged riffs and incitement through their middle. The song flows and lurches with an enticing which bruises as potently as it seduces, Greene mixing up his outstanding delivery whilst his colleagues produce a severe and absorbing tango of hungry sounds.
Both In Death’s Path and Sirens ensure the album continues to find a new facet and twist to its provocative storm of enterprise, the first searing ears with a tightly wound binding of acidic and grooved animosity over which caustic vocal squalls roar and rage as rhythms prowl through the emerging scenery. It is a strong and appealing challenge but comes truly alive with the quirky melodic toxicity which weaves within the tempestuous onslaught. It gives the song a depth and invention which its successor takes to its heart, its emotive beauty and melodic eloquence living up to its title as it paints another distinct venture within the album.
Shades Of Inception works on synapses next, its opening knot of sonic manipulation and coarse vocals with a seeming intent to brawl an attention grabbing entrance. The cleaner approach of Greene amidst equally softening textures provides an attractive landscape though it is within unpredictable and turbulent walls of djent fuelled riffs and punchy rhythms. It is a skilful merger which lets both extremes flow and shine with clarity even though locked in each other’s determined arms. The track’s mesmeric ingenuity is emulated by Visage, its own fusion of both climates seamless and invigorating for ears and emotions. The bass of Dusoe again finds a dark presence which simply lures complete attention though not to the detriment of the crusading and battling opposites of sound created by Kim. Though it does not spark in the passions as rigorously as previous tracks, it still leaves a lust for more.
The band gives the listener a chance to catch their breath with brief instrumental Orca which is strong and enjoyable but not really adding much more to the release, before the next up Utopia reveals its transfixing soundscape. The bass instantly steals ears and passions with its bestially rapacious sound which is soon joined in success by atmospheric melodies and a caustic yet elegant range of ravenous riffs and immersive sonic hues. With thumping rhythms framing the gentle but forceful maelstrom, the song soars as it explores its glorious depths and the listener’s imagination. The track on its own shows just how far Deadfall and their sound has evolved, it a mighty proposition which envelopes and inspires with majesty and passion.
The album is completed by firstly New Light, a track which brings essences of Between the Buried and Me to its incendiary and breath-taking wash of melodic and evocative grace locked in a tempestuous and at times severe climate of aggressive artistry. It is followed by the nine minute long Harbingers: Dawn, a song which encapsulates and draws all the potency and qualities shown across the album into one unique and epilogue like conclusion. It is a formidable and thrilling end, if arguably a couple of minutes too long for personal wishes, which leaves The First Harbinger on a plateau just as lofty as it began and to be fair maintained for the main across its journey.
Deadfall are ready to join the big boys of progressive metal on the evidence of The First Harbinger, its sensational body as invigorating and exciting as anything the genre has offered this year.
The First Harbinger is released on August 5th. For more info http://www.facebook.com/deadfall1
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