Artist: Farewell From the Gallows
Album: Luck of the Draw
Release Date: November 16, 2012
Rising from the ashes of other bands, Farewell From the Gallows was founded in 2008. Four years later with a steady lineup and a signature the sound the band from Indianapolis, IN has released their debut professional EP Luck of the Draw. The EP is five songs and instrumentals. It's like a cracker jack box you know you're going to get metalcore songs but you don't know what the surprises are, and this album has it's surprises.
The EP starts with the song "Meridians" which is what most people would call the single of the EP. The song starts with a little intro piece that builds momentum until vocalist Kenny Brumback comes storming into your ears and the song just takes off with such intensity not commonly heard on debut's. Musically the song is a fairly standard metalcore track. Not to say it's bad because it's not at all! The music is very tight, very cohesive and very good. Then at 2:00 into the song the bottom just drops out for a breakdown for the record books, almost immediately followed by the chorus of clean vocals. The combination of the brutal breakdown and the clean vocals add such contrast when placed back to back like that but it works so well.
The flow of Luck of the Draw is amazing as evidenced by "Meridians" feeding right into what I believe to be the strongest song on the release "Alethia (The Painter and the Picture)". This song includes everything a metal head would want in a song. It's got the classic chugging guitar work with a nice Iron Maiden-esque mini-solo stuck in there which really shows how much the band has grown and matured since 2008. There's a longer guitar solo towards the end of the song as well. The guitar work of this song overall is strong and really showcases how much talent guitarists Aaron Hall and Christian James have. "Alethia" also includes a breakdown and some "sing-a-long" lines like "Take your place/Stand your ground/Or will your lies still resound?" definitely a portion of the song to really get the crowd involved and rushing the stage. The clean vocals and the lyrics within them are simple beautiful. Most people wouldn't use that word for a metal song but there is no other word to use.
The third track is an instrumental/introduction song called "No Place to Call Home" the song features the same basic music of the following song and feeds right into it.
The fourth track is essentially the "title track" or the song that conveys the theme of Luck of the Draw, the song is titled "House of Cards". This track is another example of what metalcore sounds like nowadays and it's great. Musically, nothing really jumps out at you to identify this band as unique. Although the drumming on this song is fierce and perhaps the best on the entire EP. The song does feature a section with guest vocals from Jordan Bopp of Your Ventriloquist. Jordan's higher vocals compliment Kenny's lower range to combine for an epic vocal performance with the lines "This is my life/This is real life".
Next up is "The Last to Desert a Sinking Ship". The song starts with some great guitar work and strong vocal performance by Kenny. The guitar riff around 1:15 of the song is just awesome, but shortly after the clean vocals come in and unlike the rest of the EP where the cleans are spot on and crisp these cleans seem to be lacking a little something. I can't quite put my finger on it, there's just not as strong as the rest of the release. The rest of the song is awesome. It's heavy and Kenny's vocals are just sick. Not to say "Sinking Ship" is a bad song, it's just the weakest on the EP in my opinion. It has good qualities like the vocals, and the guitar work but it just doesn't stack up the other four songs.
My favorite song comes next "For Better or Worse", this is the song where I said surprises come in. The opening sequence of the song makes you feel like your are about to get a full out pit inducing, head banging jam, the clean vocals even keep up with the intensity level of this song. Then at 1:15 into the song something magical happens. The song goes into a dance pop section and it is mind blowing. Just when you're getting into the dance vibe, the heaviness comes back and simply gut punches you back into mosh mode. I cannot say enough positive things about this song, only I wish the band would include more experimentation like this because it works so well for them, and makes them easily identifiable.
The closing song is called "A Musical Construction of Hope (in B Major). It's a mostly slower instrumental wind down song from the intensity of the rest of the EP. The song features one word "Whoa" and to see the band play this song live is awe inspiring. The passion that one word can convey and the impact it can have on a crowd is amazing to see in today's metal scene.
Overall: Musically, there are a lot of high points in this EP. There is no lack of talent on Luck of the Draw. This group of five young guys from Indianapolis, IN definitely have the talent and the skill to make a name for themselves in 2013, they made a good start by playing on the main stage at the final Cornerstone Festival in the summer of 2012. They've tweaked some things in songs from the recording process to the live sound especially with the drumming, and Jason's talents definitely shine in the live setting, hopefully they can pull that vibe in on the recording of the full-length album. Vocally, Kenny shows great range and control of his voice. His low growls are spot on with some of the top billed metalcore bands out there right now, his higher screams remind me of the metalcore bands I came into the scene with. The clean vocals are mostly excellent, the placement and the lyrics that are contained in the clean sections are superb. Where most bands have the clean vocals do the catchy part of the song Farewell From the Gallows uses them to further convey their message of hope, and a passion for God. I've been listening to this band since their first demo in 2008 and one of the areas they've grown the most is the lyrics. One of my favorite lines from not only this release but any song in 2012 comes from "Meridians"; "These bridges that are so easily broken are rebuilding themselves/Will you meet me in the middle/So I can find myself?" Anybody that has ever struggled with their relationship with God can really relate to this line and song in general. I know I can. Another great lyrical excerpt comes from the song "The Last to Desert a Sinking Ship" where it says "You will see me through/Your arms are open/My heart is broken/My defenses are all down."If you ever want to fully receive the gift of God's love you have to let your defenses down and let Him in. That is what these words are about to me.
There is a lot of promise from Luck of the Draw and there are things to work on and build upon. In a world where Christian metal's lyrics are becoming more ambiguous, Farewell From the Gallows does not shy away from their message and what the band is all about.
Editorial Note: I had the opportunity to attend the band's CD release show for Luck of the Draw and the recording does not do their live performance justice. The energy of the show was crazy. I have not seen that many stage dives, and rushes in quite some time. It was great to see and up and coming band bring so much to the show and really make sure the crowd had a great time and had fun. The show included two new songs not on the EP, "Colossus" and "Parallels" if these two songs are examples of where the band is going with their sound and style you can expect to hear their name again in 2013 and more often. The show also included two covers "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" by Fall Out Boy and the encore which is always a crowd favorite the bands unique and awesome cover of "Oceans Avenue" by Yellowcard. If you like the band's music and their sound go see them live, you will not regret it, because that's where the real magic is. Also, the bassist Jordan is crazy live and brings a level of energy to the show not often seen from a bassist but reminds me of the chaos and energy that the keyboard player for The Devil Wears Prada brought to each and every show.
Reviewed by: Michael Small
2. Alethia (The Painter and the Picture)
3.No Place to Call Home (Instrumental)
4. House of Cards (Featuring Jordan Bopp of Your Ventriloquist)
5. The Last to Desert a Sinking Ship
6. For Better or Worse
7. A Musical Construction of Hope (in B Major)
Tagged as2012 Album Reviews farewell from the gallows Independent Indiana luck of the draw New Album your ventriloquist
About the Author
Brooks Ginnan is the editor of Exiled Music Press. He is usually crying over the fact that we will never see a reunion of The Smiths or Cocteau Twins.