Dead To Fall - Villany And Virtue (Cover Artwork)

Dead To Fall

Villany And Virtue (2004)


With the release of Villainy & Virtue, Dead to Fall find themselves in one of those rare circumstances where after replacing 3/5 of their previous line-up, they come out as a much better, more interesting musical unit. The band's 2002 debut, "Everything I Touch Turns to Pieces," was a fine tribute to the Swedish guitar licks of their influences, but largely, it felt amateurish in terms of polish and fitness. Fortunately it seems, Dead to Fall have really worked hard on their craft with these new songs, as Villainy & Virtue catapults through 31 minutes of bone-shattering metalcore.

Immediately, it's clear that the European guitar riffing has been cut down drastically on this release in favor of a mix between thick, palm-muted riffs and monstrous chugging breakdowns. Stylistically, this may be nothing exceptional, but Dead to Fall have a knack for breeding intensity within their tightly controlled wall of noise. The drumming of Evan Kaplan is noteworthy on "Villainy..." for the mere fact that Dead to Fall no longer rely on a stubborn backdrop of rolling double-bass. Used more effectively, the songs on here gather a greater degree of momentum with the percussion spreading out the devastation with poise. Vocalist Jonathan Hunt is average at best as a recorded frontman, and noticeably, his lack of engaging qualities prohibits the material on here from sounding truly explosive. Dead to Fall may have "heavy," and "intricate" down pat, but the lack of stronger vocals keeps this band decidedly middle of the pack.

Surprisingly, Dead to Fall's best material on here comes from the final four tracks, beginning with the riveting percussion intro to "Blood of the Moon," and closing with the chilly "Epilogue." The ISIS-like eighth track, "Cross Section," sees these guys reach their most adventurous songwriting point yet, and Villainy... benefits nicely from an obvious, but cohesive change in tempo. Rounding out the release is absolutely beautiful artwork by Paul A. Romano, which adds a load of class and professionalism to the overall product. Villainy & Virtue is a huge step up for Dead to Fall, and to be honest, a very surprising one as well. At the same time, these guys find themselves in an extremely crowded genre, and Jonathan Hunt's mundane vocal character brands the band with a decided handicap.