’Wake’, album number five for Iowa bruisers For Today, and their first for their new label Nuclear Blast, arrives hot on the heels of 2014’s ‘Fight The Silence’ and it’s business as usual. After 10 years at the metalcore coal face, these guys are masters of what they do although there’s nothing overly fresh or new about the new record that might entice new listeners to the party. That said, suckers for big choruses and melodic singalongs may well get dragged in by the likes of ‘Broken Lens’ and ‘Bitter Roots’.
There’s a suggestion of closure about the album following a turbulent couple of years, where the band were plunged (unwittingly) into controversy by some unfortunate and ill-advised online comments made by an ex-member. That they faced those issues head on and with dignity and humility is testament to the band, and that shines through with the in-your-face aggression of tracks like ‘Deserter’ and ‘Forced Into Fire’. The sense of “we’ll let our music do the talking” is palpable.
For all the notably positive elements of the album, it has to be reiterated that it’s nothing new in terms of the genre. Some might find it remarkable that metalcore is still relevant and churning out decent-sounding records, but it can’t be too long now before the levee breaks and only the strongest acts survive. There’s every chance that For Today will be one of those survivors once the wreckage is cleared, but after 5 albums there’s perhaps an expectation that their sound would have expanded and developed more than it has to help seal their place at the forefront of the scene. At times, it’s akin to listening to God Forbid who were at their peak well over 10 years ago now and if you’re aping a style from a decade ago, questions are going to be asked. On the flipside, there’s nothing diminished or receding about the quality of For Today’s output and it’s simply too powerful a record for them to be accused of treading water.
Is ‘Wake’ a strong album? Absolutely, yes. Is it going to open them up to a wider audience? Probably not, but for die-hards of the genre there’s certainly enough to be content with if not overly excited.
‘Wake’ by For Today is out now on Nuclear Blast.
Words by Rob Fearnley.