Review by William Dibble, images provided by Downfall 2012
Houston, Texas, is perhaps most famous for being the site of NASA control. We all know the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” so well that it has become part of our national daily lexicon for when something has gone wrong. Houstin-based metal outfit Downfall 2012 hopes to change that somewhat. They want to make a huge splash in the rock and metal scene, releasing their new album We Welcome the Pain on November 8th of this year. The album comes in at eleven tracks and forty minutes in length, and focuses on how Downfall 2012 believes we bring most of our pain on ourselves.
“Take Control” is an excellent name for the opening track of the album. It immediately gives you an audible image of what this album will sound like. It has a very distinctive bassline, and a rousing rhythm. The instruments are reminiscent of the 90’s and early 00’s nu metal movement, while the vocals are reminiscent of early-era Mushroomhead. The mix of screams and vocals is certainly well balanced. “Find Your Enemy” starts off with another heavy intro before launching straight into a rapped verse, calling the earlier vocal comparison back to mind. This is not a bad thing. Downfall 2012 definitely possesses a very distinctive vocal style. The song also makes good use of the nu metal/metalcore trope of a muted section of instruments with a more “distant” sounding vocals. “Attack Point” is a slightly different beast from the first two tracks. Rather than launching into the body of the song with a guitar assault, it starts immediately on the first verse, and goes straight into the chorus. “Attack Point” simultaneously preserves the vocal styles of the first two songs while firmly establishing a sound unique to Downfall 2012. One of the interesting things about this song is that there are only two short breaks in the vocals. Once at the middle, and once toward the end. This song feels like its name- an attack point where the band firmly wants to establish their uniqueness.
The title track, “We Welcome the Pain”, starts off with cleaner guitars before launching into a stop-and-go drum and guitar rhythm laid out behind a quickly rapped verse. This song is more of a blending of musical themes from rap metal and nu metal, focusing more on the rap side of it, which is a very good thing. It is not a song that a person can mistake for the work of any other band. “Fooled Once” follows a similar formula, but the rap influences aren’t as apparent here. This song mixes in more clean vocals and guitars between the heavier screamed verses, providing an aural contrast. Track six, “Save the Queen”, changes the formula back to the earlier one. It starts out with heavier guitars and rapped verses, and mixes in a much longer clean verse than many of the other songs. Despite feeling slower vocally, this clean verse is paired with the fast beat-beat-beat of a bass drum, making it feel almost urgent or rushed, which pairs well with the song.
“Don’t Give In (Nine More Lives)” pairs synths with the musical sound that Downfall 2012 has developed over the prior six songs. It also continues the increased use of clean vocals found in “Save the Queen”. By this point in the album, it is without a doubt that they have achieved their vision of developing a distinct and unique sound. “The Mission” is very different from the prior few tracks. It blends in influences of faster-paced bands, and even a little metalcore influence, to inject a massive amount of energy to the album. If anything inspires a mosh pit on this album, it will be this track. “Forward Movement” is a slower, clean-vocals track that serves as an intro to the penultimate song, “Make Us One”. The slower intro, paired with the fast intro riff and drums, make an excellent song with played one after the other. Surprisingly, “Make Us One” features a lot of clean vocals, which isn’t what the intro would leave one to expect. This makes it a positively surprising track before it launches into its rapped verses. We Welcome the Pain closes the album out with “End Credits”, a synth-heavy last song. At first, the song might lead a listener to believe it will be a fairly generic song, but that notion is dispelled within moments. A lightning-paced rap verse paired with clean vocals.
It takes a little bit to build up, but We Welcome the Pain does achieve Downfall 2012’s goal of establishing a unique sound and musical vision. Artfully mastered, it offers a look at how nu metal can evolve and grow as a genre. There are parts of the album that begin to sound formulaic, but it is an excellent addition to any music library and these parts are vastly outnumbered by the songs that sound completely and totally unique. Pick up We Welcome the Pain on iTunes and other services on November 8th!