They Fell From The Sky – ‘Decade’

By Ian Kenworthy

Good things come to those who wait. They Fell From The Sky had their genesis way back in 2008 when, formed from an eclectic mix of artists, they worked with the intention of doing one thing: rocking hard. A demo was recorded of the song ‘Crush This World’ but circumstances turned against them and they disbanded, leaving only the demo as a legacy…

More than ten years later, however, They Fell From The Sky have been resurrected, rising from the dead with an entire album. Maybe you’ve never heard of them or maybe you listen to the demo every once in a while and wonder what could have been. Either way, you won’t be expecting this record, and it’s more than a welcome surprise – it’s a masterclass in post-hardcore.

Made up of Jason Bowld, Colin Doran, Dave Draper, Lee Erinmez and Oly Edkins, the project has a pedigree with each member bringing a wealth of experience. They know what they’re doing and there’s a chemistry channelled into the ten songs. With Doran as vocalist, Hundred Reasons are the obvious comparison, although it actually has more in common with his other, harder, heavier and lesser-known band, The Lucky Nine. If you’re a fan, you know what to expect – a riff-fuelled take on post-hardcore with built around a soft emotional centre.

The album sounds huge, but not in the same way as a metal record. It has a distinct character, warm and honest, biting in all the right places. This is heard clearly as ‘Staring At The Sun’ shifts to a sharp strummed part or the noisy attacked chords on ‘Take It Or Leave It’. With guitarist Dave Draper acting as producer, there’s an immense weight to his instrument, using a chunky tone that suits both chords and riffs, giving the entire project an undeniable power, especially the opening to ‘Can’t Think of Anything’, which is like being hit by a bulldozer.

The album’s highlight is also is heaviest song, ‘Mantrap’. A potent mix of barbed screams, snapping drums and vicious guitars, it has space to breathe and is worth the entry price alone.  In fact, every song here is vital, offering its own spin on the band’s sound. ‘Take It Or Leave It’ basks on a fast, punky edge, and despite its noisy opening ‘Can’t Think Of Anything’ has a lighter, bouncy feel. There’s a sinuous guitar part behind ‘The Joy Of Hindsight’ driving it like a team of angry horses and the riffs being traded on ‘One More Obstacle’ are simply delightful. Yet, despite being so crammed with bold riffs, the songs avoid becoming a formless soup. They’re clean, structured and wholesome.

The influence of Bowld throughout the record is clear. Having been part of Pitchshifter, Bullet For My Valentine, Axewound, and even having worked with Doran previously in This Is Menace, there is a certain sound he favours; a weighty rhythm section and guitars that could scour the sink in a student flat. As this a project started by a drummer you’d better be prepared for an awesome drum sound. The kick drum pounds and the snare rolls on ‘One More Obstacle’ or the verse to the aforementioned ‘Mantrap’ show off Bowld’s thumping style but even the cymbals counting in the opener have a bright, pleasing chime.

Originally, Doran was unable to commit, leaving the project and ultimately killing it, and it’s now clear as to why; his presence makes it. A couple of guest spots aside, it’s his first recorded output since 2007’s ‘Quick The Word, Sharp The Action’ and he’s got a lot to get off his chest. He makes the most of the opportunity, churning his way through what might just be his best recorded performance with every song offering a different spin on his signature sound, allowing him to wring a spectrum of emotions from his words.

Never staying in one style for long, he favours huge bellowing yells on ‘Crush This World’ showing off just what he’s capable of, especially as the song’s middle eight contains a hook big enough to land a whale, but elsewhere he’s just as striking. The chorus of ‘Birth Of Stars’ is interspersed with scrappy shrieks that spiral into a more delicately delivered passage and the throat-shredding screams he unloads on ‘Mantrap’ are a career best. For the most part he’s singing with the pointed delicacy that brought such success in his previous band, displaying a frailty to his voice and turns of phrase that give them heft. It’s most noticeable on ‘The Line’ which touches on a lighter, more Hundred Reasons sound and proves that this project is very much its own beast.

In many ways ‘Decade’ is a nostalgia trip, and the band describe it as such, but this is only true in the sense that its roots are grounded in the past. Yes, it does recall the members’ previous bands, but not at the expense of sounding new and thrilling. It uses nostalgia in the best way, by asking, “Remember what we used to do? Well, listen to what we can do now”. The songwriting, therefore, is lean and laser focused – this is a record full of certified big hitters.

‘Decade’ is an absolute blast. Packed with hard-hitting riffs and powerful on every emotional level it comes striding out of the past with nothing to prove and leaves your heart pounding. Presented in a way that bites in all the right places, brewing for ten years only seems to have enhanced its strengths. Play it loud.

IAN KENWORTHY

 

 

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