For Today’s career hasn’t existed without controversy. They’re a band that lives and breathes their faith, and for that, they receive a fair amount of criticism. But the drama that has occurred over a few of the members voicing their opinions on homosexuality is beginning to rule people’s opinions of the band. And sadly, all of this controversy has begun to distract people from the main item at hand: the music. It’s the music that matters most, and if people can’t see past beliefs and differences to see that, I think that’s quite a shame.
So amidst all of the craziness, the band has released their newest record, Fight the Silence. It’s an apt title due to the outspoken mentality of the group, and the members back this up with some of their most inspired, passionate, and infuriated work to date. The only pity is that the instrumentation is a bit general in backing that up.
The title track basically lays out the map of the album. Booming guitars and blast beats dominate the track, while a smooth mix of screams and cleans help back up the band’s fiery lyrics. The rest of the record seems to follow a similar formula — a formula that’s recently come to define the band’s music. The addition of former In the Midst of Lions guitarist Sam Penner brings a tweaked style. While I was hoping for the same breathtaking technicality that the deathcore players brought to the table, that is very much absent in For Today. In fact, the band is actually moving further and further away from any sense of music prowess, and instead is focusing almost solely on their message, stressing it through more straightforward musicality and hardcore elements.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the lyrical themes are excellent and really help Fight the Silence stay afloat in a sea of generic metalcore albums. The message behind the title track (countering human trafficking) is an important one to get across, and one that everyone should get behind. Not only does the song do an adequate job of raising awareness about the issue, but it feels genuine and meaningful. That’s what makes the record such a resonant one; it’s upfront and personal. Mattie Montgomery screams with his heart on his sleeve, whether he’s screaming about losing his father in “Fatherless” or speaking about Christian martyrdom in “Pariah”. In the unfeigned closer, “Hated By the World”, the vocalist leaves listeners with the words “I will always stand for you / even if I stand alone,” justifying his mission as a musician and as an evangelist.
Still, the message is nothing without the music to get it across. While the quintet is broadening their appeal as much as possible, their generic and whetted-down style holds the record back a bit. That isn’t to say the songwriting is dumb; rather, it feels more safe than anything. Most of the melodies bring the same density, with thunderous drums and pouncing guitars moving the songs along, but with enough uniformity to keep Montgomery in the brightly-lit driver’s seat. Songs like the hard-hitting “Pariah” and enveloping opener “Molotov” would thrive if there was a higher variation of riffs and tones, but Penner and Ryan Leitru settle more often than not.
That being said, Leitru’s deep-pitched cleans sound better than ever, making the choruses of “Fatherless”, “A Call to Arms” and “Break the Cycle” rise towards the sky. A high amount of cleans, in addition to a few slower songs, some near-spoken word vocals (which maintain the intensity of Montgomery’s preaching at shows), and a guest spot from Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins help the disc from being overly monotonous.
For Today has always been known for being unashamed of their beliefs. However, in this record, they go beyond just demonstrating that their faith is important to them. Their words aren’t just spoken. They’re felt. This band is doing as much as they can to reach out to those truly in need, and that goes above everything the world is currently spitting at them. Though it would’ve been great to see the metalcore players branch their sound out a bit, Fight the Silence is still an impactful listen because of the band’s fervor and near-desperate sentimentality. Passion goes a long way, and For Today’s fifth record is strong evidence of this.
Metalcore | Razor & Tie