July 17, 2019 FLAW – VOL IV: Because of the Brave (Album Review)
To live in the modern world is to reside in a place dueled by strife and the undying fight to climb higher. Conflict erupts after decades of subjugation, but it never fails to fall on the shoulders of the willing to bring a solution. That in mind, with their latest album VOL IV: Because of the Brave, FLAW is outspoken in solidarity with the efforts of the military, as well as individual circumstance and struggle.
Straight out of Louisville, Kentucky, FLAW continues to charge ahead nearly two decades after their impressive major label debut, 2001’s Through the Eyes. Following up strongly in 2004 with Endangered Species, Singer-Songwriter Chris Volz has kept FLAW alive through years of lineup changes and working independently of a major record label. Finding a home with Pavement Records and releasing Divided We Fall in 2016, followed by their United We Stand in 2017, VOL IV: Because of the Brave acts as a fitting and anticipated next chapter.
Set for release on Friday, July 19th, the 10 track album does not play around as it opens with a bouncing guitar riff that tears away with distortion on “Persistence.” A song that flows between aggressive battle cries and clear declarations of strength through life, it is a bold beginning. This is before a sharp frequency wakes up “Walk the Line” before plunging into a fluctuating and catchy guitar riff with the foretelling lyric “I choose to walk to line’ has an endearing singularity to it.”
Moving along, “Because of the Brave” is a gorgeous ode to the service and sacrifices made by servicemen and women. Here the vocals of Volz echo that of a drill sergeant between haunting lyrics like “so even though your mountains might fall we’re not loosing all of it.” In enough words, it carries with it a message of perseverance and strength that is utterly and concisely real. Then there is “Conquer This Climb” which dances with the flames of previous Flaw songs while interweaved with raucous screeching and hard hitting guitar. The melodic backing guitar in the chorus breathes a delicate life into the ambitious song. This is while “Wake Up” is a bit of a contentious track with its take on the subject matter of American patriotism. Complete with a chorus that is catchy, it somehow lacks the eloquence the previous verses do. This is as the concise line of, “we stand up for the flag” truly hits home with the obvious relevance of the song, albeit in a semi-supercilious manner that could negate a deeper comprehension.
Later on, “Sign of the Times” is unique in the way it uses abrupt pauses and almost robotic effects on the guitar. The track is electric and soars with the untouchable energy that flows throughout the album. Which leads us to the finale of “Lest We Forget,” a cut which has an epic instrumental backing with the might of Legions. It stands boldly as a review of the American Bill of Rights in all of its glory. A remarkable and noteworthy song in its own right, fortunately it is not lost to the album in its overall system.
Several of the tracks on VOL IV: Because of the Brave can be interchanged with one another due to the similar themes and limited expression vocally. The rhythm and tone of the guitars are always gripping, sensational, and worthy of a headbang. That said, the entire album is cohesive with tracks like “Everything” and “Conquer This Climb” standing out from the crowd due to a more delicate instrumental approach; these also tend to be the tracks that have a sturdier emotional inflection. Altogether Flaw has unrelenting voice in VOL IV: Because of the Brave though it is incredibly diverse at times, it knows what it stands for and does so in a succinct manner. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.