August 17, 2016 Flaw – Divided We Fall (Album Review)
Not many newspaper ads go well for very many people, but in 1996, Flaw found success when Vocalist Chris Volz took a leap of faith, and responded to an ad Guitarist Jason Daunt had placed. Immediately hitting it off, the two had material the next day for the fledgling band. That band would become known as Flaw. A hardworking bunch, Flaw independently released music through their early years and finally earned the attention of Republic/Universal Records, signing to the label in 2000. The timing was prime, considering Alternative Metal was on the rise and Flaw’s sound, mixing Hard Rock, Hardcore, Alternative Rock, along with some Hip Hop, was bound to attract listeners. Thus, in the fall of 2001, their major label debut album, Through the Eyes, dropped, and with it came major success. This was more than just another ill-labeled Nu-Metal album, it was a record filled with raw, deep, dark emotion, and melody unheard of from other bands on the scene at the time.
The success continued and Flaw showed growth with the release of 2004’s Endangered Species, but sadly, shortly following its release, Flaw was all but done. With Volz concentrating on his new project, Five.Bolt.Main, the idea of Flaw’s return was bleak; the band did in fact reform quite a few times, once in 2006, again in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2013. Amidst the touring, they independently put out Home Grown Studio Sessions in 2009, a much less polished effort than before. Since then, Flaw has toured, and kept their name alive with their core fanbase.
Now signed to Pavement Records, Flaw look to knock down the doors of the mainstream once again as they are set to release their new album, Divided We Fall. Met with the lineup of Volz, Daunt, Bassist Ryan Jurhs, and new Drummer Corey Sturgill, Divided We Fall is the band’s first studio record in seven years. Taking the struggles they experienced throughout the years and using them to mold their sound today, Flaw showcases meaty guitar pieces, thrashing drums, and both melodic and snarling vocals to create Rock songs that dive deeper than just anger or frustration at the world.
Opening up with spoken statistics of military veteran suicides, “Fed Up” is a song with a purpose as weighty beats and growling vocals combine with crashing drums for an angry sound. Then, “Do You Remember” continues on with the heavy beat, although Volz vocals come in more gently. Known for profound lyrics, amidst the seriousness of the song, the tempo evolves into one of hope. Keeping the emotions flowing, “Fatal Fall” is introduced with gritty guitars and haunting echoing vocal, creating a melancholic feeling. Not keeping the mood too mellow, “Live And Breathe” comes in with energetic drumming and more textured guitar work as fast growling vocals alternate with gentler singing for a contrast Volz has developed beautifully over the years.
With creepy sound effects and quiet snarling vocals, “Choices” dives into a muscled beat that plays out behind the lyrics, while the lyrics themselves offer advice and reliability to the listener. In contrast, “Wipe Away The Dust” utilizes light sound effects on the intro as a piano delicately plays. Quickly, rough guitars and drums come in as Volz surprises with mild vocals, making for a solid rock-out song. Taking on a funky feel in the intro, “Bleed Red” features accusing vocals fading in before falling away into harsh tones once more as a challenge is issued out with the words, “Take a look inside your mind and see what you will find.”
Making sure to keep the atmosphere of the album stand out, “Let Me Go” draws a little influence from ’80s Sci-Fi sound effects before impassioned singing cries out to be set free and the beat stomps along in demand. Thereafter, with a slow, but no less dense beat, “Heal” feels rather overwhelming. Although, despite the notes of depression, this song offers quite a bit of hope as well. Picking it right back up, a steady beat makes up “When You Grieve…” and Volz’s voice is in the distance, bringing an added depth. Even through the heavy rhythm, Volz’s show off the tenderness of supporting somebody through loss. This leads to the album’s conclusion where Flaw revisits their powerful 2001 track, “My Letter.” A more delicate rendition from the original studio recording, it is comprised of only intense vocals and an intricate piano, much like the hidden track on Through the Eyes, “Only the Strong (piano version).”
An overdue return, Flaw’s Divided We Fall is an album that clearly has passion injected in to each track. Deep, personal stories are mixed with rough guitars and dual vocal styles to create multiple layers on each song. Many would say this album is the missing link in Flaw’s history, with that said, better late than never. CrypticRock gives Divided We Fall 5 out of 5 stars.