Review: “The Fallen Pillars” by As We Suffer

As with any concept album, there is a certain amount of how much the listener reads into the themes behind the lyrics when they’re not banging their heads or throwing their friends around in the mosh pit. For Ottawa’s As We Suffer, who comprise Ryan Caldwell (Bass), Jason Yocom (Guitar), Matt Caldwell (Vocals), Derik Roblin (Guitar), Chris Nunn (Drums), they’ve chosen for “The Fallen Pillars” something we’ve heard of before, orientating the record around the pillars of truth. Each song deals with destructive concepts and beliefs that we, as a society and as people, should not prop up as truths which lead us on a journey of unhealthy and damaging thoughts and emotions that explore existentialism, politics, religious fanaticism, and truth through different styles of heavy music. An amalgamation of several heavy subgenres rolled into one that blurs the lines between Metal infused Punk, Hardcore, Groove Metal and even a little hard rock, this one is about the music taking you on that journey rather than sticking religiously to a holding pattern.

In choosing such a variety of sub-genres to formulate a sound of their own, As We Suffer tread on dangerous ground, running the risk of not having a distinctive enough sound to separate them from the Wolf pack and perhaps even leaving themselves with something of a watered down Radio Metal sound. But as the album unfolds, it becomes clear that each song on “The Fallen Pillars” has enough of a core that is As We Suffer to be able to carry off the variations without doing that. “Caustic Paradigm” brings Metal edged Punk with multiple vocal styles and parts making it something of a curious track to open a record with before “Malicious Compliance” and “An Open Letter (to the Bleeding Hearts)” gives us a healthy dose of the kind of the Howard Jones era Killswitch Engage sound, lifting the spirits with selection of delicious Metalcore riffs and that familiar gallop. Caldwell’s vocal range is impressive and he’s more than capable of turning his throat to any style easily while having such a talented vocalist benefits the band’s chosen melting pot of styles no end. “F***ing Relentless” makes it time to get weird but in a good way, crossing over between that lightening in a bottle Punk speed and Power Metal that happily tosses out any rule book and delivers the goods with slick solos polished to the point of gleaming. The Howard Jones esq clean vocal parts appear once more on “Invade The Host” as the whirlwind shows no sign of stopping, As We Suffer have one speed, go fast or go home and that makes the record as a whole an adrenaline fueled thrill ride. Lyrically telling a story and delivering a message without being too literal or specific is something that Caldwell can consider his hallmark.

A tale of depression and darkness, “The Great Leveler” is a rampaging cut that ensures that the album doesn’t have a soft underbelly, the influences of bands like Pennywise, Strung Out and NOFX clearly felt but not outstaying their welcome to allow As We Suffer to tread their own path without stepping on anyone’s toes while wearing the influences upon their collective sleeves. Its an impressive piece of tightrope walking at times but they have the talent to carry it off. One of the bigger stand outs thanks the a Groove laden mid section is “High Tide” which has a couple of parts slowed down just a little in order to pass that message on, the passion, grit and integrity in the vocal delivery something that really hits home. The constant lyrical cliché that is “Scatter The Herd” is good fun despite it’s deeper meanings while “Shadows Caste In White” brings the Metalcore breakdowns underpinning Traditional Metal lead parts as it tears down the walls of Metal boundaries with a complete disregard for the usual divisions that makes for a refreshing approach. Another stand out is “Concrete Fist” which was one of the pre-release singles and an obvious choice as it throws down the gauntlet to any opposition. A song about making a stand through violent uprising with the caveat that this kind of solution often comes at the sacrifice of a healthy mind, it’s heavy from start to finish but arguably saving the best to last with title track “The Fallen Pillars” which is reminiscent of “The End of Heartache” era Killswitch Engage. The clean vocal parts on this one are simple immense and the way they’ve been cut with the uncleans is impressive [8/10]

Track listing

1. Caustic Paradigm (2:58)
2. Malicious Compliance (3:24)
3. An Open Letter (to the Bleeding Hearts) (2:41)
4. F***ing Relentless (2:28)
5. Invade The Host (3:21)
6. The Great Leveler (3:51)
7. High Tide (3:32)
8. Scatter The Herd (2:25)
9. Shadows Caste In White (4:44)
10. Concrete Fist (2:59)
11. The Fallen Pillars (5:17)

The Fallen Pillars” by As We Suffer is out 30th April 2021

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