- The King
- Stand Defiant
- The Call
- Open Eyes
- Under God (Ft. Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant)
- Set Apart (Ft. Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red)
- The Only Name (Ft. Sonny Sandoval of POD)
- My Confession
I realize that the current state of metalcore is dismal at best. We have all heard the same boring lyrics screamed, with the same bland vocals halfheartedly growled, over the same uninspired breakdowns, by the same black clad band. We all know the cycle by now. For Today, while not doing anything to turn the metalcore scene on its’ head, provide a solid release with Immortal that separates them from the aforementioned acts that give the genre a bad name and keeps them in the top echelon, above all the mediocre acts.
Immortal starts off with the first single, “Fearless”. The song is probably the most “radio friendly” thing For Today has ever done, as it finds them exploring clean vocals mixed in with the screaming more than ever. While I was not initially a big fan of the change and found myself thinking, “Oh great, another band doing the whole singing mixed with screaming thing”, I found myself really being able to enjoy it and sing along after a few listens. Possibly the most redeeming factor of the increased amount of singing is the fact that Ryan Leitru has such strong vocals. His pipes stay strong and steer clear of ever becoming whiny or strained, lending to the power of the anthemic proclamation of, “We will not, we will not be afraid!“. After hearing “Fearless” as a single, my biggest concern was that For Today has gone “soft” on us, and that nearly all the technicality of the music had been drained in favor of more catchy, driving riffs. Fear not old school For Today fans, save for minimal clean vocals on “Foundation”, the clean vocals are nowhere else. As far as the complexity of the instrumental aspect; let’s just say, For Today has not been this technical since Ekklesia. The intro to “Foundation” finds David Morrison obliterating his drum kit, while Leitru and Mike Reynolds provide harmonious tapping sections. “My Confession” starts off with a riff that would make August Burns Red blush, with melodic guitar harmonies during the chorus. “The Only Name”, my favorite track on the album, is the most technical offering on the record, chock-full of tremolo picking, sweeping, and interesting tempos.
It was after listening to the record about three times that I began to realize, For Today never intended to go soft on us with Immortal; they merely wrote music that focuses much more on melody. Whether it be from the sweeps, the high scale lead guitar chords, or Sonny Sandoval’s anthemic chanting during “The Only Name”, nearly every song has a more melodic spin to it that For Today previously has offered. This is not to say For Today does not still have a rough side to them. The title track “Immortal” has possibly one of the heaviest breakdowns For Today has written as front man Mattie Montgomery growls in the deepest octaves I have heard his voice register, “Everyone Dies/ But Not Everyone Truly Lives“. “Under God” is another particularly heavy track as Montgomery and Green trade off vocals during a Motorhead-esqe intro. The rest of the song is hands down the least melody-centric track on the album and should be a staple song in the live set when For Today and Sleeping Giant tour together.
As much as I love For Today and would like to give this album a perfect score, there are a few flaws to me. The most glaring and annoying would have to be the two instrumentals, “The Calling” and “The King”. I felt that “The Calling” was plopped in an awkward spot on the record that really killed the flow and slowed things down too early. If the band was insistent on the content of these songs making an appearance on the record, I believe the two should have been condensed into one track and featured as the intro to the album instead of just having “The King” be the intro. The other issue I had with the album was a lack of any real life changing rally song all their other albums have provided to me. I totally realize this is a personal issue and many other people are bound to have songs that spiritually floor them, but for me Immortal did not provide me with another stand out track like “Seraphim” from Breaker or “Ezekiel” from Portraits which each garner countless plays from me in a week.
Overall: All in all, For Today does not reinvent the wheel of metalcore as we know it, but they do a great job breaking the cycle and constructing something in the genre actually worth listening to. If you are previously a fan of the band, you know well what to expect: heavy (both spiritual and musically), technical, and passionate music. If not, Immortal is certainly a great place to start.
RIYL: Sleeping Giant, A Plea for Purging, August Burns Red