If you’re hungry enough, you can always start over.
On their sixth full-length and first release for Rise Records, hard feelings, blessthefall filter urgent and uncontainable energy through nearly 15 years of hard-earned experience and wisdom, igniting their next chapter. Preserving a signature punch while pushing the sonic palette, the Arizona quintet–Beau Bokan [vocals], Eric Lambert [guitar], Jared Warth [bass], Elliott Gruenberg [guitar], and Matt Traynor [drums]—emerge with ten equally heavy and hypnotic anthems awash in pummeling guitars, glitchy synthesizers, and rafter-reaching vocals.
“I felt like we were writing our first record and we had something to prove,” admits Bokan. “We scrutinized everything. A lot of the inspiration came from a dark place. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we didn’t know where we were going. Like a light at the end of the tunnel, Rise Records entered the picture. That was our cue this is a restart. You can’t do the same thing over and over. We decided to make this a banger. We wanted to show progress and change, because we owe it to ourselves and our fans. This is a fresh start.”
Over the years, the musicians quietly set the stage for this kind of revelation. Most recently, 2015’s To Those Left Behind marked their second consecutive Top 25 bow on the Billboard Top 200 and earned acclaim from Alternative Press, Outburn, and Rock Sound who named it among the “Top 50 Releases of the Year.” Meanwhile, 2013’s Hollow Bodies remains a fan favorite. The album houses the live staple “Hollow Bodies”—which racked up over 7 million Spotify streams. Returning home from Warped Tour 2017, they dove headfirst into creating what would become hard feelings.
The process represented another evolution. For the first time, they teamed up with Tyler Smyth [Falling In Reverse, Dangerkids] as producer and tapped Matt Good [Asking Alexandria, The Word Alive] and Howard Benson [My Chemical Romance, Adam Lambert] for additional production.
Inviting Smyth to Arizona, blessthefall holed up in an Airbnb “jacked up on cold brew iced coffee and Dominos Pizza” and made deliberate creative strides.
“Tyler encouraged us to experiment and try different things,” he goes on. “He would bring these synth sounds that we’d never used to the table. We were chopping up vocals and making them unpredictable. We had nothing to lose. We drew on inspirations as varied as blink-182, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and The Mars Volta. It’s a cool balance. We kept that aggression, while delivering something new.”
That spirit courses through the first single “Melodramatic.” It snaps from a hushed intro into a barrage of percussion, synths, and guitar before Bokan demands, “I need the anger, I need the rage. I need the worst things you could say.”
“It’s no frills,” grins the frontman. “The goal was to write a song hot out of the gate the crowd could get into. We’re using all of those negative influences and turning them into something positive. I wanted to be pissed-off and inspired again. We re-captured that fire inside.”
Cinematic delay functions as an overture on the opener “Wishful Sinking” as a gang vocal curls towards polyrhythmic riffing and hypnotic crooning, “You’re the shore, I’m the tidal wave.” Meanwhile, “Find Yourself” hinges on an unpredictable confluence of electronics and thick distortion, making for “something you wouldn’t ever hear us do in the past,” as Bokan puts it.
hard feelings climaxes on the heartfelt closer “Welcome Home.” A muted riff buzzes below the record’s most cinematic storytelling as the singer gives his wife and child an audio goodbye.
“I was getting ready to leave to Europe for seven weeks, and that was going to be the longest that I would be away from my wife and daughter,” he recalls. “It’s a fucking heavy song. It brings me to tears. It’s about me leaving for tour. I put my heart and soul into that track knowing I was going to be leaving them. It’s literally my letter. You might hear a surprise guest at the end too!”
In the end, blessthefall’s new beginning has all the makings of their biggest moment yet.
“I’ve learned that there’s another chance around the corner,” he leaves off. “No matter what dark place you’re in, there will always be hope. I’m excited to see where we go with this. I hope it’s as important for the fans as it is to us. They’ve carried us this far. I hope they stick with us as we reach the next level.”