A couple months ago, I went to the D.C. stop for the Fall of Troy’s headlining tour at the Rock and Roll Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect; the internet had been abuzz with rumors that the band was going to break up, and that the guys couldn’t get along with each other. Although I’ve learned to take these rumors with a grain of salt, I couldn’t held but wonder if this supposed conflict would manifest itself in the band’s new material. Luckily, the new songs the Fall of Troy performed live went smoothly and Thomas Erak, as always, knocked me off my feet with plenty of face-melting guitar solos.
I walked out of the venue satisfied, confident that the band’s upcoming release, Manipulator, would be anything but disappointing. Having bought and listened to the entire album, I’m somewhat disappointed, but only because I held the band to such high standards. Let me begin the rest of this review by making it clear that I think Manipulator is a good album. However, there are certain things about the album that really annoyed me, so this review may sound a tad bit negative.
It’s inevitable that as a band continues to write music, there will emerge a desire to experiment and tweak their sound. Sometimes bands completely revamp their style, whereas others do it slowly in bits and pieces. The Fall of Troy followed the latter approach. Sometimes their change in sound works out for the best; songs such as “Semi-Fiction” successfully employ more melody than was used in their earlier material. However, sometimes the band dabbles in certain musical styles that come across as more awkward than pleasing. The verse in “Oh! The Casino!?” sounds like it was taken directly from an episode of Happy Days, and “Quarter Past” begins with a bluesy intro that, although it sounds good by itself, interrupts the flow of not only the individual track, but of the entire album. Although I appreciate the band’s efforts to rechart its musical boundaries, Erak and company should have taken a step back from the recording process to see if these changes contributed to the quality of the album.
Another aspect of Manipulator that bothered me was the production. The vocals and instrumentals themselves are fine. However, there are many instances throughout the album’s duration where the vocals sound very distant from the music. This problem is apparent from the beginning of the album on the track “Cut Down All the Trees and Name the Streets After Them,” throughout which the vocals sound too powerful, are packed with too much reverb, and overtake the guitarwork. Furthermore, because Erak’s vocals sound a bit diva-esque at times, it feels as if the band is purposefully trying to take away from the fantastic instrumentals.
That’s my beef with Manipulator, but despite its flaws, this album is a great example of how talented the Fall of Troy is. As long as the band continues to make brilliant experimental and aggressive music, then I will support anything they do. I hope that when they begin recording their next album, these guys will look back on Manipulator and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
MP3: The Fall of Troy – Cut Down All the Trees and Name the Streets After Them
MP3: The Fall of Troy – A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama.