Usually the debut of a band is not make or break – but the follow-up effort can say whether or not the band is in it for the long haul. California post-hardcore outfit State Faults, or the artist formerly known as Brother Bear, put out a damn fine record in Desolate Peaks in 2012. However, it wasn’t without some hiccups and a bit of heart-on-sleeve appreciation for genre torchbearers Pianos Become the Teeth. Yet, the band seemed destined for something better – a notion that accelerated with newfound momentum upon their signing to No Sleep Records. Time has passed, and the band’s No Sleep debut Resonate/Desperate is finally upon us. Surely enough, State Faults make enough strides on their second LP to prove their debut wasn’t a flash in the pan.
Resonate/Desperate does a lot of what Desolate Peaks did in a sense that this record can often hinge on strung-up guitar lines and brash vocals – found on takes like “Stalagmites” and “Disintegration”. However, the grit and overall ambience of the latter has been dialed back to make way for a more cohesive effort in terms of songwriting and a much more palatable record this time around. Opener “Meteor” is explosive while getting us in tune with the vibe of the record, only to show some viable dynamics in the track’s resolution. It gives a stark sense of tension without going light on the melodies – a characteristic this record leans on more often than not in songs like “Luminaria”. There are a few moments where the shift is less than ideal, but for the most part these songs flow from section to section with ease and a strong transfer of emotion.
Even with such a melodic slant though, the record has plenty of the rhythmic command that made moments in Desolate Peaks so memorable. Whether it is the simple, but effective swings of “Ultima” or the infectious chugs of “Incantations”, there’s a definitive punch to much of these songs to complement the tension and melody in a very effective manner. Add to that some intriguing effects riffs and sprinkled percussive additions, and musically this record feels much more fleshed out and calculated in a very good way.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade on this record comes from the vocal approach throughout – a huge improvement over the sometimes grating harshness of the raw screaming on Desolate Peaks. The screaming still exists, but the control and confidence of the bark on these tracks makes them much more enjoyable even as the lyrics touch on self-discovery, faith and loss. I would daresay the change in approach helps make these lyrics sink in a bit better, especially when they feel a bit more personal (“Disintegration”) rather than simply poetic.
Resonate/Desperate is arguably the record State Faults needed to make – it does enough to separate them from their influences without completely ignoring them, all while gaining new ground in the process. It easily surpasses the expectations of this fan, and leaves me wondering what they could do in the future with their continued sense of growth as musicians. Simply put, this is a must listen for any fan of ‘the skramz’, especially if you’re into Final Fantasy references.