So it is about eleven at night on April 20, the end of a sober day I spent criss-crossing Santa Monica and Venice, delivering pizzas to stoners on holiday. This could have sucked, without The Fall Of Troy’s recently-announced reunion album, OK, showing up in the morning by “pay what you want” policy, worth the concern of a constantly-draining battery as I played it all day.
Their self-titled debut in 2003 was powerful, all the anger and speed of punk and hardcore with the methodically erratic musicianship of prog rock. They were still a high school trio, recording the album over the course of their Senior spring break. Doppelganger arrived two years later, with reworkings of a few songs from their self-titled, new tracks, and the refinement of their somewhat unique blend of music, more carefully engineered and produced than their first. Manipulator, their third, was fun but felt too constrained, too controlled, too carefully scripted and figured out. I still enjoy the quieter tracks on there, but it felt distinctly like all the explosive anger had been leached out and replaced with a somewhat mellower angst. In The Unlikely Event came through a few years later, and despite having a pair of kick-to-the-face intro tracks, it quickly meandered off into territory almost more classifiable as pop-punk. In between there, though, we got Phantom On The Horizon, a five track concept album about ghost pirates that spent years in slow creation, a lavishly produced affair that showcased them perfectly, vicious and haunting in its direction.
It wasn’t long after the fourth album that the problems started, on-stage arguments foreshadowing the inevitable breakup in early 2010. Singer/guitarist Thomas Erak formed Just Like Vinyl, which put out two relatively forgettable albums; solid musicianship, to be sure, but nothing to remind me of when I saw Fall Of Troy play a small bar in Burbank, Illinois, with then-unknowns Portugal. The Man as their opening act. Bassist Tim Ward and drummer Andrew Forsman also have other musical ventures; Trash Kids and The Monday Mornings, respectively. I didn’t know that until I looked it up for this piece.
Thomas played a set with Chon as his backing band at SXSW last year, which felt like a poor substitute for the full reunion that was supposed to happen though it was there that I realized how awesome Chon is. That show consisted of two Fall Of Troy songs, two covers, and then the promoters throwing everyone out because the fire marshal was losing his shit about how many people were packed in to hear them. It is totally worth twenty minutes of your time to sit and watch; the Nirvana cover is great, the Fall Of Troy songs sound wonderful with a second guitarist, and everyone is clearly having a blast. Thomas always looks like he’s having the time of his life anytime he’s on stage, and Chon look (and sound) like they grew up listening to him religiously.
I don’t feel disappointed, after a day stuck in traffic with OK. I’m not going to a track-by-track dissection here, not only because it’s so easy for you to just go get the album, but it’s less about the individual songs with this one, and more about the overall feeling of growth and reunion that the album provides.
Some bands break up, come back together, and it’s like they never stopped making music, whether that’s for better or worse. OK sounds like a band that ran off in three separate directions, then came back around just to see what happened. The vocals are wildly different; Tim Ward, their bassist, provides a lot of the screamed vocals here, something he previously only did during live shows. Thomas, meanwhile, seems to provide more clean singing and the occasional falsetto, though there are still a few of his immediately identifiable soul-shattering screams present. The guitar work is similar – there are bits and pieces that make you stop and go, oh, fuck yeah, that’s the god damn Fall Of Troy, but they’re scattered, used more like benchmarks, signposts, reminding you of who you’re listening to.
The rest of the music is just as spastically tight as their first two albums, occasionally surprising, technically phenomenal. They still sound hardcore, with some of their fresh sounds and new vocals speaking more of old school punk, the prog rock over-directed feel of Phantom nearly gone.
While a few tracks have quieter, more contemplative moments, they’re more like a moment to breathe; OK does not dwell on the quiet sort of melodies that dotted their third and fourth LPs. This is a full-power charge, beginning to all-too-soon end.
You can go listen for free at thefalloftroy.com, and if you like, throw a few bucks their way. They’re going on tour this summer with ’68, another favorite around the Antiquiet watering hole.
As spastically tight as their first two albums, occasionally surprising, technically phenomenal. They still sound hardcore, with some of their fresh sounds and new vocals speaking more of old school punk, the prog rock over-directed feel of Phantom nearly gone.