Benton Falls - Guilt Beats Hate (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Benton Falls

Guilt Beats Hate (2003)

Deep Elm

With all the recent speculation about Benton Falls breaking up, I can only hope that for all of our sakes, they reconsider and stick it out. Why? Because this album rocks, plain and simple.

Benton Falls is a trio of men from Santa Rosa, CA, and these guys make a lot of sound. My first impression of this CD was "wow, this is loud." I assumed there would be, if nothing else, at least two guitar players. I was wrong. Singer Michael Richardson covers all guitar duties, and this guy can shred. The sheer power brought forth by his six-string puts me in awe at times on this album. Knowing that he does all the singing [and occasional screaming, too] only makes me hold his talent in a higher regard.

Look at me, I'm jumping ahead - you don't even know what the band sounds like! Well for starters, it's on Deep Elm.

Okay, now that 90% of you have already scrolled to the bottom of the review to leave some comment like "emo blowz! bye the new racnid album!!!@$@(*$&#$," I'll address the rest of you who don't always write off bands based on a label association. Yes, this is stereotypically "emo" music. No one involved with this album will deny that. But this album is definitely in the upper echelon of what Deep Elm has been releasing lately [Brandtson? Please. If I wanted to hear Midtown, I'd listen to my Midtown CDs]. Richardson's voice is more unique than it is generically whiny, although his tone does strike a familiarity within me. I can't recall who he sounds like, but I know I like it. And, while the lyrics are your basic Deep Elm "I'm depressed, I miss you, I'm dying, etc." fodder, Richardson actually pulls off lines like "January's cold / but February's colder" with a level of sincerity not seen since Sunny Day Real Estate. The band also sparingly uses the idea of screaming in some of the tracks. Scattered throughout the album, it helps more than hinders, as you never really get sick of it.

So who does the band sound like? For Deep Elm comparisons, think of the intensity of Planes Mistaken For Stars coupled with the creativity of the Appleseed Cast [their earlier work, in particular]. If I were to venture outside the Deep Elm umbrella, I'd say that people who were into Thursday before they were on M2 [basically anyone who was suckered into paying 15 bucks for the CD when it first came out, only to find it selling for $6.99 a year later because they were a "new artist"] would appreciate the talent of this band. Like I said before, this is a stereotypically "emo" sound, and I'm getting fed up with the copycats as much as anyone, but this record is one of the diamonds you should try to discover, not one of the chunks of coal you pitch to the side.

This Housecall Could Kill [full]
Bitter By Choice [clip]
Trial and Terror [clip]
Angel on Hiatus [clip]
Like Portraits on Walls [clip]
Defining the Warm-Up [clip]