The Fall of Troy - Manipulator (my second review)

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29 jul 2007, 18:27



Having somehow, during the transition between 2003's self-titledThe Fall Of Troy album (written when the band members' average age was only seventeen) and 2005's Doppelganger, upped the apparently unstoppable creativity at the heart of their work, predicting where Mukilteo, Washington trio The Fall of Troy were headed next was always going to be a tricky affair.

But the first question on everyone's lips is, inevitably, is it any good?, the more pessimistic and negative perhaps moving on to predict that they had ran out of steam early. That said, the lingering possibility that perhaps frontman Thomas Erak could, like other great musicians before him, simply run out of creative energy and ideas? This album, TFOT's third, was bound to be that which would confirm any such prognosis, for better or worse. Are The Fall of Troy a band with future potential and longetivity, or simply a flash in the pan?

The first statement about Manipulator I will make, however, is that any such doubts are about to be invariably killed off. Everything you loved about their last album is still ever-present in their music, and in most cases expanded upon. The sense that this is essentially a progressive rock band is still eminent, the long periods of meandering, thought provoking guitar solos once again providing those moments when you shake your head in wonder and think that this band is, without question, one of the most original and experimental ever to make music.

Or at least, that is how it was when I first listened to it. Not only is it as schizophrenic as previous releases, the juxtaposition between music that batters you over the head with its viciousness before soothing you with another beautiful melody has been expanded upon. Take Problem!?, for example, which opens with a fast-paced, math-rock riff with a rhythm that you just can't not tap a foot or hand to, before throwing into the mix Erak's trademark shriek. For now, it's a trademark Fall of Troy moment, but when it's piercingly high singing takes precedence that I was taken completely by surprise, swept away as if by a particularly angry river with an intense current that increased with every second. Only three and a half tracks into this album, and I'd already been caught by extreme surprise more times than I can count on the fingers of one hand.

The main thing that is undeniably brilliant about The Fall of Troy is that they are quite simply so invaluable to the music of now. They are the quintessential antidote to this decade's legion of anodyne, moderate and diluted bands so prominent in every other simple-minded person's favourite bands list. You could sit down to listen to Manipulator with a list of today's most banal musical cliches, and what would immediately emerge is the realisation that none of them feature here, and furthermore are all rendered irrelevant by the freshness and originality seeping from the pores of this album's every second. That TFOT can write music as accomplished as this, without use of the general building blocks of music such as typical song structure, is nothing short of incredible. In a world with so many bands to content to churn out cookie-cutter, monotonous simplicity by musical conformity's most drab rulebook, listening to music as innovative as Manipulator which rewrites that rulebook with such conviction can only make you wonder why it existed in the first place, and proves triumphantly that there are more ways to rebel against mainstream than simply writing the most extreme music. Indeed, there is a heart of simply pop that shows itself so much more in The Fall of Troy's new work than ever before.

The eclectic influences are again more than evident, veering seamlessly between blistering post-hardcore a la Refused in the rampaging Ex-Creations and utterly staggering progressive guitar solos lasting up to 5 minutes as in album closer A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama.. The breakdowns, always a major feature of Erak's writing, are more plentiful than ever before, particularly in Seattlantis and Sledgehammer, the latter of which being arguably the most stunning of all. And I don't mean just by The Fall of Troy. But whereas these things featured in both previous releases, new things are most definitely being brought to the table. Album highlight Quarter Past is, throughout its five minutes, a pure blues song in disguise, the instruments taking a back seat in favour of Erak's voice, which oozes emotion with every word. Erak has improved no end as a vocalist, the shrill screams more captivating and intense than ever, and the melodies soulful and brooding like never before. As a guitarist too, his skill has, if possible, become even more vast, with soloing in standout track The Dark Trail, amongst others, being truly mesmerising.
It's near impossible not be inspired.

Highlights:
The Dark Trail, Quarter Past, Oh! The Casino?!, A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama.

Score: 94%

Kommentarer

  • HardcorePanda

    Agree wholeheartedly with this review. My first reaction to Manipulator was a bit mixed, but upon second listen I fell in love. Now I'm just waiting for them to come around Connecticut so I can witness their electricity live.

    29 jul 2007, 23:19
  • PinkFloydrulez

    hardcorepanda, if you do get the chance to see them you're extremely lucky... you're in for a treat. I saw them back in May on the 24th. last day of my junior year. a band from my school actually opened for them in a little place called cave 9... it's basically a room witha system and a tiny stage. it was without a doubt the most amazing show i've ever been to. it was just beyond words, everything about that night and performance were awesome. I hadn't listened to anything other than the S/T album much before that night but I sure as shit did after that night..

    1 aug 2007, 09:59
  • edwardo44

    I want to read this, but it doesnt come up! Manipulator has easily worked its way up to my top five albums.

    1 aug 2007, 20:32
  • Charactarantu1a

    damn, no idea why it wouldn't come up :( PinkFloydrulez: glad to hear they're good live, as im seeing them next month :) absolutely can't wait, i have been waiting a while...

    1 aug 2007, 20:37
  • psychomode

    A standing ovation. Best review for this album I've ever read, you totally hit the nail on the head. One of the best albums EVER.

    31 aug 2008, 16:08
  • jhimbob

    I only wish everyone could appreciate this music for what it is, like you have done. The music industry as it stands at the moment...is shit.

    25 sep 2008, 03:41
  • PinkFloydrulez

    this is a mega late reply, but... how was the show? :D

    28 feb 2010, 19:34
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