After recovering from a mid-mid-life crisis that saw the band drop off the touring circuit and subsequently fuel rumors of a break-up, The Fall Of Troy understandably have a lot of source material for this latest effort, "Manipulator". Surprising it is then that if anything, much of this album comes off as a tad more mellow, well at least by The Fall Of Troy standards, than past output.
A greater emphasis on poppy melodies, especially vocally, is much more discernible this time around. Sure there's still spastic freak outs, the ever fidgety guitar parts that kinetically shred through At The Drive-In directness and prog-rock meandering. Taut drumming and groove-laden bass lines are also all in their proper place as the band continue to shriek, scream and croon with youthful vigor throughout the aggressive first half of the disc.
By the time the halfway mark is reached though the Ritalin starts to kick in and finds the band delving into the blues and syrupy pop-punk while also barreling through a few tracks that can annoyingly lack direction. It's still all rather avant-garde and effusively played, but it is devoid of the certain charm of the groups past records. Much of this could probably be pinned on the bands tendency to sprawl out in various directions which in turn leaves gaping holes in their songwriting.
Still a rather invigorating listen and one that should appeal to musicians interested in truly alternative playing; "Manipulator" does repeatedly find the band flagrantly showing off their talent with reckless abandon, and thankfully, honesty. But it also finds many of the songs devolving into chaotic staccato-heavy freak outs that lack an alluring flow behind their numerous flippant convulsions. Perhaps the Achilles' Heel has finally been revealed.
(3 / 5)