Music Review: Let a dead genre fall

Dead to FallVillainy and VirtueVictory Records

Two out of five Stars

Graced by a noble falcon warrior and an evil snake demon in the heat of battle, Dead to Fall’s sophomore effort Villainy and Virtue screams epic power-metal majesty on first glance.

Sadly, Villainy and Virtue’s rehashing of Gothenburg clichs and suffocating hardcore mosh machismo heralds a less breathtaking tale.

Carcass, At The Gates, Entombed and In Flames took Europe by storm in the early 1990s with their newly christened Gothenburg Metal-an illegitimate child of power-metal melody, death-metal sludge and lightning-speed thrash riffing-but they surely never expected America’s budding Hardcore scene to one day become overrun by their legacy.

Welcome to the new millennium. As hardcore bands began conjuring metal’s macabre meandering into their sonic spells, a new wave of metalcore hybrids flooded the scene. A handful rose to excellence-see All Out War and Aftershock for an introduction-but the majority sank to the bottom and drowned.

Dead to Fall’s second outing, Villainy and Virtue, treads these stormy waters, but is left gasping for air and sinking slowly.

The band’s first curse: the ever-ambiguous metalcore breakdown. Villainy and Virtue’s first single, “Bastard Set of Dreams,” barely leaves breathing room for the average mosh-crazed metalcore kid to recoup between palm mutes. This may seem like a good thing, but the problems arise when each of the album’s breakdowns can be seamlessly cut and pasted into any of the Headbanger Ball’s new (note: not ‘nu’) metal acts.

The second evil spell cast upon Villainy and Virtue is the curse of copycat riffing. While Dead to Fall’s dual guitar dueling is more than epic enough to fill the halos of past metal gods, their riffs are nothing more the B-grade versions of fallen greats. The narcoleptic Nordic melodies of “Epilogue” practically shout a war cry in homage to Dissection’s classic, Storm of Light’s Bane, while Villainy and Virtue is armed with an entire arsenal of token Slaughter of the Soul-era At The Gates guitar work.

The cinder block tied around Dead to Fall’s ankles though is Villainy and Virtue’s penchant for trite metal aesthetics. There are three reasons why Dead to Fall cannot use tolling bells of war, chanting monks or gothic orchestration in their music: A) Gothenburg metal acts were born from a land rich in Medieval myth, and Dead to Fall is from Chicago, B) The closest thing to Medieval myth stemming from Chicago is Dungeons & Dragons, and C) Dungeons and Dragons is not valid Medieval myth.

That said, Dead to Fall are good at what they do. But, tragically, what they do is now six feet under the Scandinavian soil.

Dan Fletcher