Fallstaf – Bastard Sons of a Pure Breed
Release: 2011Oct25 (US)
From the get-go, there are reservations about Fallstaf. Anyone who mentions the words “horns” or “brass” within ten words of any metal band is usually invited to jolly well fuck off (unless, of course, the words “devil” or “balls” come, too). But this Québécoise quintet contains not only a standard-fare trombonist—the dude’s also a professed hitman. Perhaps that explains his ski mask. But what isn’t explained is why both he and Ian, the vocalist, sport those creepy contacts lenses vis-á-vis Marilyn Manson. If it were me, I’d let the frontman wear ’em and be done with it. I mean, you’re in disguise playing trombone with a metal band; do you need another distinguishing feature?
And incorporating horns is a good start, really—how many other times has this worked well? Fishbone did it first and best, though Mr. Bungle is my personal favorite. There were occasional forays by Gwar, and even recent releases like Revocation successfully venture these realms—but it’s tentative ground to tread, however confidently they stride. Fallstaf does put their brass foot forward, often harmonizing with the lead vocals and not relegated to the background. I just wish it wasn’t so… well… nü-metally.
Ian’s vocals are closer to Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor than anyone else I’ve heard—except maybe that one guy from Stone Sour. It also doesn’t help that “Dark Days” was the name of the last Coal Chamber album, so nü-metal is exactly where my brain went, right off the bat. The overall delivery isn’t bad, but doesn’t go too far or take many chances, like they are either afraid or unsure how to unleash this power. Check out the video for lead single, “The Cost”:
So we’re a little bland, yes. Abandoned house, jamming w/o electricity, ambiguous relation to the song: I’ve seen this before. And I bet there’s a story, but I sure could have used visuals in the fucking video. The song seems to have a serial killer vibe, but the repeated chorus of “let’s bleed to death together / let’s rule the world with hatred” feels meaningless. Speaking of meaningless, simply trying to read the one-sheet was a lesson in what-not-to-do if you are a band attempting to cater to a foreign language audience. I wonder if some of the lyrical problems that the band encounters is really due to the language barrier. Unfortunately, Fallstaf lacks the instrumental prowess that makes up for such an absence in verbal communication—for now. They are clearly trying to make it work, and I was a bit more intrigued by the teaser for “Eulogy”, in which The Hitman assembles his weapon of choice:
All things considered, I’ve never seen a band quite like Fallstaf, and the possibilities of ‘Brass Metal’ present a bright alternate path for misfit horn geeks with a heavy edge. But a more ingenious execution—and also furthering their humorous side—is necessary for a band like this to flourish. If you’re looking for something fun and quirky, you might as well go the full nine when you try to nail it.
And yes, they are named after the Shakespeare character. And no, I will mention nothing further on the subject because I don’t think it makes sense. His traits—fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly—aren’t all that Metal…
FCC: 5, 9
Try: 1, 2, 3, 10
01. Dark Days
02. The Cost
04. Not Welcome
05. Pull the Knife
06. My Demons (Acoustic)
07. Ten Years in Flames
08. The Hounds
09. Fuck the Fence
10. My Demons
11. Violent as Violence Can Be