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The Setup and Rise and Fall…

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2006 @ 11:55am » permalink

The Setup - The Pretense of NormalityI was first exposed to Belgian metalcore act The Setup through the "Nine Kinds of Pain" 7" some time ago, which was basically a rather impressive demo that got the chance to see a proper EP pressing. Well, their debut full-length, "The Pretense of Normality", has been out for awhile now via GSR Music (formerly known as Gangstyle Records, and I can't get their website to work so I'm using a dreaded MySpace link), but I just got the chance to hear it earlier this week – thus reminding me why Gangstyle has been one of my favorite European labels for years, and that I need to stop slacking and throw down some dough for their latest releases.

Now, I know the term "metalcore" is a pretty nasty item these days, so I want to make it clear that in this case "metalcore" actually refers to a pretty wide – yet equally balanced – range of influences spanning both the metal and hardcore genres, from chugging power chord density and dissonantly layered post-hardcore textures to energetic bursts of more basic rhythm arrangements or a few slightly more melodic attributes – all the while fronted by hoarse screaming. Helping things along is the fact that every song is less than three or four minutes long, which keeps the listen flowing and makes for some surprisingly energetic moments – which is something that I tend to feel is missing from a great deal of this type of material. And that's not to say that The Setup has a commonplace sound, because they don't, but at the same time… despite such a wide span of influences and a certain sense of identity, it's a general niche that will be familiar for many listeners. I will say, though: The recording on this thing is working overtime in the band's favor, and I fuckin' love it. The bass tone alone is dead on and pulses away in the center of the mix at all times, which really thickens the blow. Any number of bands could learn from such a move, but the fact that everything else sounds crisp and warm is certainly an important factor.

I'm not being descriptive enough to do this one justice, but I don't consider these write-ups to be actual "reviews" per so, and that's the beauty of it: Listen for your damn selves and figure it out!

The Setup "Abattoir"
The Setup "Black Water"

This is a really quality record, and there's not a great deal out there right now that falls into this particular niche of "metalcore", making this one that much more of a recommended purchase. More proof that people in the US need to look to Europe for the goods more often:

@ Very Distribution

Rise and Fall - Into OblivionI have one very important suggestion to stress to Rise and Fall (also from Belgium): Thicker, heavier guitar tones! Seriously, this band writes some great material and has loads and loads of potential, but both of their records that I've heard falter just enough in the guitar tone department to bum me out just a touch, because I can imagine the material with a harder hitting sound – especially some of the darker riffing on this particular outing ("Into Oblivion", their second full-length and first release for the mighty Deathwish Inc.) – and holy shit could some of this tear faces off with a hint more polishing up. This time out the gritty guitar tone combined with the occasionally rocked out lead bursts and a few other minor riffing tendencies give me the impression that they're almost going for sort of a crusty punk meets Integrity-styled metallic hardcore approach, and from a songwriting standpoint it certainly works. Make no mistake, it sounds pretty good too, I like the record and enjoy listening to it, but… I mean, for example: Would His Hero is Gone have been half as powerful as they were if their guitar tones had sounded like, say… Discharge? That's a stretched parallel here, but I think you'll know what I'm getting at, right?

While, as mentioned, I definitely hear a Cleveland-esque influence at work here (more Ringworm than Integrity), I wouldn't really throw the "holy terror" tag at Rise and Fall (though some have), nor would I align their actual songwriting with what most people think of as Belgium's overtly metal-based "H8000 sound" (though the band is associated with that whole scene, even appearing on a compilation 7" named for it). Some of the imagery and lyrics lean a little more in that direction, but the music strikes me as a slightly more diverse and open-ended take on traditional metallic hardcore – that is to say it doesn't come across as that over the top, you know? It's just good, solid, in your face material. No frills, really, but enough of an edge to keep from sounding like everything else that's out there, which is always a plus.

Rise and Fall "Forked Tongues"
Rise and Fall "Lost Among the Lost"

People who can afford to buy CD's but download records for free instead are shitwads. Don't be a shitwad. Spend your money wisely and buy more music that is not utter crap:

@ Deathwish Inc.
@ Very Distribution

8 Comments...

  1. Mike says:

    Rise & Fall's live guitar is a kick in the nuts. Seriously incredible.. i think it comes across quite well on the album imho. Also, the Rise & Fall 7" you mentioned is actually a comp of bands out of the H8000 area.

    Great post about the 2 best bands from Belgium!

  2. ISten says:

    Fuck yeah, The Setup, form my own country, Belgium! good music, records is out for a while now, but still cool to see it here!

  3. Adrianoso says:

    OH FUCK YEAH!!! I WANT MORE!!!

  4. Tyrone says:

    I was wondering when you were gonna get around to both of those CD's.

    So good.

  5. i think we all know how i feel about rise and fall. the best. they are touring the states this April for 10 shows so if you live on the east coast dont sleep. US hardcore fans should do everything they can to see and support foreign bands for 2 reasons; 1. they need the money 2. you never know if they'll ever make it back so seize the opportunity!

    ps check out my blog as i am going to have a running European hardcore theme going for the next few posts!

  6. chris says:

    fuck yeah, that "abattoir" track is killer! gonna check 'em out for sure. plus, i've noticed on the band photo that one of the members is wearing a deadguy t-shirt – always a good sign. ;)

  7. zach says:

    Yeah I preordered the Rise and Fall release. Really fucking great shit. I do understand what andrew is saying about the guitar tone but I think it works for them. It really shouldnt but somehow it does. I dont no, im 50/50 on the guitartone. Everything else is pretty fucking awesome. Though im starting to get sick of skulls(and theyre all face views. At least do a different fucking view of a skull)on all the deathwish releases. I seriously hope i get to see these guys live.

  8. belgian waffel says:

    shit i can see these guys every week, i'll better go check 'em out.

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