For Today

Immortal

01. The King
02. Fearless
03. Stand Defiant
04. Immortal
05. The Call
06. Foundation
07. Open Eyes
08. Under God
09. Set Apart
10. The Only Name
11. My Confession

[05/22/12]
[Razor & Tie]

In the metalcore/deathcore scene, For Today are one of the handful of bands I would have recommended. Their past three records are top notch, filled with technical goodness, tonnes of talent, uplifting choruses, and some fantastic sing-along moments. This Iowan quintet set the bar higher and higher for themselves with every record, so it was disconcerting when I got to hear ‘Fearless’ before the album came out. The mood shifted from excited to cautiously optimistic over at Heavy Blog HQ; after hearing Immortal though, it is quite lacking.

For Today have always had a knack for utilizing otherwise derivative techniques such as 808 bass drops and breakdowns to their advantage. Their generous use of these techniques put them on the fine line of guilty pleasure and just another Christcore act. In the past it has always been used to their advantage, creating heavy atmospheres and giving the band a chance to show their rhythmic chops. In most cases the breakdowns on a For Today album are entertaining and hardly detract from the songs, unlike the tracks on Immortal. In fact, you can actually count an average of three breakdowns per song. Now, the For Today seal on these breakdowns makes them a lot more bearable than Emmure and associated acts, but it doesn’t help that these songs lack the depth they are more than capable of achieving.

The album started on the right foot with an anthemic introduction that flowed seamlessly  into ‘Fearless‘ akin to Trivium‘s ‘Capsizing the Sea/In Waves‘ intro and it got me really pumped up. I found myself turning it up higher and higher throughout the first three tracks, but by the time ‘Stand Defiant‘ rolled around, it became apparent that the album wasn’t going anywhere. Afterwards, there weren’t any cool riffs or fills to soak up anymore, and if I wasn’t reviewing this album, I would have skipped it altogether.

It isn’t like you couldn’t see it coming, though. Their previous record Breaker foreshadowed this shift in priority with several songs more focused on the chorus than the instrumentation, though it never came off as superficially as it does here. Even on Ekklesia and Portraits, many songs still had that fist-in-the-air quality without sacrificing the redeeming technicality they have on songs like ‘Never Lose Sight of the Goals‘, ‘Agape‘ and ‘Isaiah‘. Contrary to the previous records, the songs on Immortal are disengaging; while they may be entertaining and enjoyable at times, these moments are frequently spoiled by derivative and unoriginal bridges, breakdowns and simple 4 chord progressions. Instead, For Today have opted to sacrifice musicianship for spreading the word of their faith to a more accessible audience.

If you were to listen to this record without an expectation or preconceptions, what you would find is a band doing it’s very hardest to inspire a young audience. Their goal has always been to spread the word of Christianity and their zealousness is admirable. Despite my lack of faith, I still find myself enjoying their method and delivery. The blatant message they carry has a certain ambiguity to it and I find myself inspired regardless of my faith. I have never encountered a band so passionate on the religious side of the spectrum and it really is noteworthy, especially in a subculture that celebrates gore, violence, atheism, Satan, and the numerous other topics that go against what they stand for. So thumbs up for the adversity, guys!

Though this admiration doesn’t save their album from lacking redeeming qualities. For Today have proven the value of their technical ability and they simply cannot thrive on melodic choruses and breakdowns alone. Such a shame that they misused their talent in favor of their message.

For Today – Immortal gets…

2/5

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHRj4iqo6vA]

-CD

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