There is something about modern metalcore music that really appeals to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the bass drop-heavy breakdowns, the chugging guitar riffs, the high-pitched clean vocals, or all of the above. There is just something about it that I love. Bands like Attack Attack!, Of Mice & Men, and yes, even Asking Alexandria, were a few of my favorites while I was discovering heavier music. As I got older, I began to discover a heavier, darker side to metalcore. About a year ago, I stumbled upon a live video for a band called Fit For a King, while I was on YouTube. They had qualities that I loved in their music. I discovered their album Descendants and fell in love with their twist on metalcore. However, that album really didn’t blow my mind. Fast forward to 2013, and they released their sophomore album Creation/Destruction. This album was miles above their previous effort. They really seemed to capture the essence of their darker brand of metalcore. Not to mention that a change in clean vocalists really made that album stand out to me. Everything about it was perfect. From the first note of Creation/Destruction, I was hooked like a fish. Needless to say, a few months ago, when FFAK announced that they were re-recording their first album, Descendants, I was overjoyed. I waited until the night it was released, and bought it on iTunes. I plugged in my earphones, and let FFAK work their magic. At least, that’s what I was expecting. I don’t think I could have been any more wrong with my expectations.
The re-recorded, re-mastered release of Descendants has potential to be an incredible metalcore album thanks to the complex drumming, tight, chugging guitars, soaring cleans, and roaring unclean vocals that FFAK brought to the table for Creation/Destruction. However, this is not what you’ll get from listening to Descendants – Redux. From the moment the album kicks in, something just feels terribly off. The album kicks off with a song that should be a wall-shaking track, “Ancient Waters”. However, the moment this song started, the first thing I noticed was how overly-triggered the drums sound. I’m completely aware that in modern metalcore, triggers are widely used for tracking drums, but the drums on this album sound like repeating samples. There is absolutely nothing human about the drums, which is a huge music turn-off for me. The second thing I noticed was the guitar tone. The guitar tone that was used for Creation/Destruction was, in my opinion, superb. The guitar tone used in Descendants – Redux falls short of what I was expecting. There is no meat to it; there’s no backbone. This is probably because the bass guitar is nowhere to be found in the mix. I might actually enjoy the guitar tone that was used on this album, if the treble wasn’t so high. The bass couldn’t be heard if you played the album through 12” subwoofers. The combination of the overly triggered drums, and the lack of bass, really takes away from the punch that FFAK delivered with their last album.
At this point of my listen-through, I was only twelve seconds into the album. At the twelve-second mark, the unclean vocals come in. Again, I was highly disappointed. Ryan Kirby, who is the primary vocalist in FFAK, has a very unique scream that I thoroughly enjoy. His soaring highs, and brutal lows are exactly what I desire in a metalcore vocalist. However, from the moment that Kirby lets out “I have come to destroy,” the vocals sound dry, flat, and just plain weak. For me, this was strike two on this album. I continued to listen through the album, in its entirety, to see if anything would improve. Nothing did.
The one positive thing I will say about Descendants – Redux is the dramatic improvement of the clean vocals, compared to the first release of Descendants. After the first release, bassist, Aaron Kadura took over the job of cleans from drummer, Jared Easterling. This is probably the greatest decision that FFAK could have made, as a band. The cleans on Creation/Destruction were incredible, and they don’t disappoint on Descendants – Redux either. I also can’t lie about this album. There were times when I found myself banging my head in rhythm of the breakdowns, or listening to the lyrics, and being blown away by the writing.
Overall, Descendants – Redux was a huge letdown for me. I went in with high hopes, and came out feeling as though my hope was gone. The whole album just sounds unprofessionally, especially considering how the band bragged about how this was “exactly the way we envisioned it.” All in all I would give Descendants – Redux a 3/10. I have never said this about an album before, but I would not have bought this album had I known the quality I’d be getting. To me, it sounds more a like a collection of demos done in a bedroom, than a professional album
Here’s the iTunes link if you don’t want to take us for our word and listen to it yourself:
Written by: Dylan Thompson – November 28th, 2013