This band takes a certain amount of leniency to thoroughly understand, even though by scratching the surface you may find a thoroughly unapologetic Christian band that merely uses their music as a footstool rather than a stage. By further introspection you will discover that beyond the blatant throat stomping of their beliefs, there is a certain vigor that they have established within their music. For Today clearly understand metalcore, in fact they are widely believed to dominate it. Their previous efforts (2008’s Ekklesia), (2009’s Portraits), (2010’s Breaker) slowly notate them breaking out of the mold, but with yearly installment after installment, what have they shown in progression?
To start, Immortal is their most guitar-enhancing work to date, playing less on chugs and more on intricate and noodle-y melodies that add the dynamic element all metalcore needs. Although they’ve always had a knack for breakdowns, this record shows some of their best work to date; they are absolutely spine destroying and they will leave you in ruins. Considering that’s a large appeal with this band, any loyal fan of theirs will surely be satisfied with every pulverizing bass drop. For the sake of getting to the point for these fans, For Today deliver some of their most crushing moments on the tracks that don’t have guest vocals (“Foundation,” “Stand Defiant,” “My Confession”), but don’t shroud the other songs as any less heavy; they’re just heavy in a different way. “Set Apart,” which features Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red, wouldn’t feel at all out of place on one of their records. It’s fast, intricate, and unrelentingly belligerent, although it’s Luhrs’ grizzly howl that really gives the song its edge.
Equally across the board, not one member fails to deliver his share of ferocious musicianship. Vocalist Mattie Montgomery is no exception, passionately, angrily, and viciously tearing apart every track with his exceptional screams. This isn’t to say there aren’t flaws though. Leaving my preconceived biases out of this review, I must point out that lyrically, Immortal suffers a bit. Not because of the content, but because of the structure. Sometimes they tend to rely on cheesy one-liners and overly obvious statements to make their point (“Everyone dies/but not everyone truly lives” in the beginning of “Immortal”). Creativity doesn’t have to suffer guys, even in metalcore. Regardless, all of the lyrics are straight to the point; no need for metaphors here.
Most of the tracks carry the same amount of weight, but there are a few exceptions that do little to help the record. These include the soft instrumental/talk tracks “The Call” and “The King.” It comes across as gimmicky rather than necessary, and because of their placement so close to each other, I feel it actually derails the flow that the record was carrying up until that point. In fact, had they had been placed differently, it might have had a different outcome.
Through and through, For Today have had their slip-ups and victories in terms of their music. Is Immortal their most accomplished record to date? Without a doubt. The musical progression levels that of their previous efforts, although at times the term “generic” comes to mind in just a couple trouble spots (“Open Eyes”, “Immortal”). But keep in mind that each guest appearance on the record (“Set Apart,” “Under God” – Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D., “The Only Name” – Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant), is perfectly placed and does nothing to take away from the music itself.
Ultimately, For Today have encapsulated a solid record that, with a generous blend of breakdowns, melody, and brutality, has moved them up the totem pole compared to other bands in their genre. This is no Breaker 2.0 if you will, but clearly a contender for their best album yet. If you didn’t like them before, you won’t like them now. If you did, I have no doubts that this album will be an immediate purchase. One day I’d like to see them really step outside of their boundaries and take the melodic progression a step further, but for now I’ll settle for the absolutely brutal breakdowns enclosed in this jewel case.