2. El Gigante
3. Un Bienvenido Descano [interlude 1]
4. Just Another Number
5. Altered Beast
8. I Know I
9. Sinfonia [interlude 2]
When it comes to labels that are big, but not quite major, Victory has, for quite some time, been the king. Their marketing team and style is one others try to rival, but often fail at and as a result they can make even the most run of the mill bands a big name in the scene. Sometimes it’s not about how you play, it’s what you play, look like, and sound like. If you can be compared to the scene’s heavy hitters, you can get a deal. This isn’t Victory only though, every label does it. When Dashboard blew up, labels started looking for other acoustic guy with smooth looks to sell. When Dashboard hit the mainstream you got this guy who gys by Secondhand Serenade signing and hitting the scene. It’s just how the industry works. In the case of A Hero, A Fake, Victory’s latest metal act, they owe a great deal of thanks to The Devil Wears Prada and any other new age “metalcore” band that has burst onto the scene before them and, Volatile, the band’s debut fails to live up to the predecessors as much as I’m sure Tony Brummel had hoped.
the album opens strong with the crowning gem of the disc [always a bad way to start, I mean if the peak comes at track 1, why continue to listen?], “Superwoman.” This song, which clocks in at a monstrous length of nearly 6 minutes, showcases everything the band is and lets you know every band they were influenced by. Sure, the technical work here and elsewhere is something to credit to the band, btu the varying styles, the singing bridge to a background of scrams, and overall pace just scream, “Rise Records, we love you.” “El Gigante,” the second track, does provide some great riffing and a solid, “slow pretty part,” but lines about watching the sky and the like just feel a bit warn.
It’s odd to say this about any album, but I think the interludes [there are 2] are some of the albums highlights. For a couple minutes total we are taken from the heavy hitting “-core” world and given something that just sinks into you. These also work as perfect segways into the album’s two other solid tracks, “Just Another Number,” and, “Terminal.” These songs seem to find a sound, that though it’s not the most original thing you’ve heard ever, gives you a reason to return to the disc later.
I think a lot of my problem with this album just comes from either how formulaic or weak it comes off at different times. “Altered Beast,” which has guitar work to battle Between The Buried and Me sounds like a rough demo from the get go. There is no build or shotgun start, but more like a fumble until the band finds their sound. Another issue is that by the time the latter half of the album begins, you feel like you’ve almost heard it all. Aside from a few solid riffs and the epic breakdown to end, “Medieval,” the back half just lags in creativity.
For the most part, A Hero A Fake sounds like a band who were swept into the label world before they were ready. Their are times on Volatile that make you think the band has found their sound, but then it gets drowned out in overdone chugs and blast beats. I do however feel that with a little more work, these guys could be the next big thing in the scene on their own terms. So as a final verdict, I’m a bit stuck. What A hero A Fake does is something you should check out, but as far as originality, creativity, or as to whether the album should be purchased? I don’t think that’s something I’d whole heartedly endorse.
*Written By: James Shotwell*