One of the worst tragedies in music is when something like filler brings down an album’s score that would otherwise be perfect. Such is the case with Fordirelifesake’s Dance.Pretend.Forget.Defend.
The absolutely crazy technical metalcore found on Dance.Pretend.Forget.Defend. is without a doubt some of the best in the genre, chock full of time changes, guitar noodling, breakdowns, and brutal screaming (with some tasteful melodic vocals). Fordirelifesake have done the near-impossible in metalcore; they’ve coined a sound that is, at its core, their own. Don’t ask me what it is; it’s just something that sets Fordirelifesake apart from the rest of the pack. It could very well lay in the immense talent the band has, or the extremely tight songwriting, or it could be somewhere else, but Fordirelifesake’s sound is distinct. Regardless, the music found here is top-notch, and Matthew Wedge’s throaty screams are as brutal as ever.
However, the problem does not lie in the songs themselves. There are twelve tracks on Dance.Pretend.Forget.Defend., but essentially, there are only eight, including an acoustic song and a cover, which some would consider to bring the count down to six. The six Fordirelifesake-esque songs are absolutely fantastic, and the acoustic song isn’t half bad either (with female vocals al all), but when coupled with four instrumentals, it almost feels a bit…cheap. I feel like there should be so much more material on here, but there isn’t, and that disappoints me. Granted, the 50-second opener “Exhale” is a nice lead into the blistering second track “Recover,” and there are some all right moments (like the techno break) in “From Tragedy To Imaginary,” but I can’t help but feel like there could be some great songs in place of there with a little more work from the band. The Nine Inch Nails cover of “March of the Pigs” is nice for a few listens (it is played particularly well), but shortly becomes novelty. One more thing is that after a few tracks there is a nothing more than a tiny muted guitar part that lasts for an extra minute after the song is done, and it makes for an aggravating experience whilst you keep reaching for the skip track button. All in all, I feel like the effort to put out a real full-length was a little on the lesser side, and I also feel like I could be listening to the album of the year, had there been two or three real songs instead of cheap interludes.
I’m done hating for now. As for the good songs, “Recover” is the metalcore song of the year, hands down. From the sweet dual melodic vocals in the intro to the rip-you-a-new-asshole breakdown at the end, this track is absolute heaven for any fan of the genre. “Something Missing” starts with a pretty unusual yet satisfying drum machine beat, and then tears into another blistering metalcore anthem which leads into “Dependant On Affection,” which boasts some pretty damn technical riffage and a very pretty outro (which, might I add, needs to be cut down a good two minutes, since it drags on for three and a half). “We Are the Company We Keep” starts of dangerously close to an emo-punk song, but steers clear of that genre with off-kilter beats and huge breakdowns. The middle of the song brings back the outro from “Four Letter Lie” (off of the band’s fantastic Breathing in Is Only Half the Function re-release) and it makes for a nice touch. The two songs towards the end of the album, “Ammunition For Your Conversation” and “Twenty-Nine Minutes Defend Twenty-Two Years,” seem to be random parts thrown together at first with little transition, but end up making themselves into decent songs in the end, with major points going to “Twenty-Nine Minutes…”’s awesome guitar solo. The album ends on a sour note with “The End of the Beginning,” a repeated riff for five minutes with no vocals, ten more minutes of silence, and a shitty recording of God-knows-what at the end. An upsetting end to what could’ve been a fantastic album.
Dance.Pretend.Forget.Defend. had potential to be a defining metalcore disc. Instead, through too much filler, we’ve got one of those albums that make people wonder “If only…” If you can avoid the shittier songs, there is lots and lots of great music to be found here, but as a whole, the filler takes away from the amount of stars this gets.
“Dependant On Affection”
“We Are The Company We Keep”