“Do you Transcend?” That is the question put forth by Nashville, Tennessee’s five-piece melodic hard rock band, Transcend the Fallen.
I received TTF’s debut full-length CD Between Perception and Regret having only been offered that one sentence about the band. So I set out to find an answer to the ambiguous question. What I found out about the band was quite pleasing before actually hearing one song. The self-described “pretty metal” sound mixes a wide range of genres. From metal to alternative rock, from screamo to pop, and from emo to a hint of classic rock. Full of intrigue, I finally let the music roll.
Upon listening to the first three tracks, “Something to Think About While You’re Out Tonight”, “Again” and “Falling Backwards”, I found a story starting to take shape. Whether the band planned it this way or not, I found that Between Perception and Regret is a concept album about a bad relationship that gradually gets worse and ends tragically. Bringing about feverish sadness, heated angst and marred betrayal and leading to self-exploration and understanding to a mind-blowing acceptance and healing, singer Matthew Bess’s vocal range on this journey is nothing less than superb. With a mixture of soft, harmonizing vocals to gutteral screams that do not overpower the song or message in the lyrics but rather compliment them and help the listener feel the story being told, his emotion comes through with every word; I actually absorbed what he was singing and transformed them to my own feelings. This is a very hard technique for singers to accomplish, but is what makes the best vocalists. To write a story is hard enough. To have listeners actually feel as though the story is somehow related to themselves and take them on a journey from within, now that is what makes genuine art.
The guitars in every song blaze with riffs that compliment every lyric and help magnify the transference I was experiencing. From the hard-bassed rhythm from Jason Garrie, to the guiding lead of Stephen Lewis’s axe, they both seem to weave in and out of patterned leads with driving rhythms and solos, but not leaving you confused by the changes because they always remain true to the tracks themselves as a whole. On the ninth track, “Never Again”, is the best example of this, as both axemen intertwine and make the whole song climb from depths, rising to crescendos that had me aching to see them play it live. The solo at 1:45 had me envisioning Lewis carving the path in my mind of the journey the album put forth.
Martha Ramos’s bass and Phillip Garner’s drums work together on every track as the threading backbone behind the music of TTF, tying everything together on each song and providing a solid foundation for the vocals and guitars to shine apon. Not to be dubbed “having a female bass player, just for the sake of having a female,” Ramos grinds out every pluck, finger and strum providing the driving force behind the songs. Also providing that driving force is Garner’s master of his set of skins, always changing his styles to bring the songs the heartbeat of rhythm and soul. On the fourth track, “You’re Burning Denim, I’m Burning Alive,” Garner’s crossover patterns were impeccable and display the wide range of his abilities and precise timing.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the jouney. From pain and despair, through firey angst and heated betrayal, surprising discovery and self-enlightenment, none so evident as on the seventh track “Shattered” which is, in this listener’s ears, the embodiment of the journey, and also on the first track that should be released as a single on this album. Listening from the very beginning to the fateful end had me captivated, and feeling that I, too, have come to Transcend.