TRAIL OF TEARS – Free Fall Into Fear

TRAIL OF TEARS - Free Fall Into Fear


Napalm Records
Release date: February 28, 2005

User Review
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As the band is an experienced and respected member of the Norwegian Gothic Metal scene, it’s with certain anticipation one receives a new Trail of Tears album. This 7-man strong ensemble has been around a few years, producing several quality releases, and Free Fall Into Fear is another such release.

The first impression is that this album is rather on the heavy side – the guitars and rhythm section are both very upfront in the mix, and with a very powerful, while still balanced production, this gives the album a very “Metal” sound. To some extent, this may be due to the fact that the album is mastered at the famous Finnvox studios, used by many a band to create a powerful drum sound.

The band also makes good use of their 7-string axes… check out the main riff in “Carrier of the Scars of Life,” for example. This song, as well as the opener, are both guitar-based while still being Symphonic – incorporating synths and clean vocals in a nice way.

“Frail Expectations” is more up-tempo, but unfortunately this track does not come out as good as its predecessors — both the riffs and melodies lack that little edge to make them stand out. The chord progressions are very Black Metal-ish, and although that’s necessarily not a bad thing, it sounds too stereotypical here. Speaking of Black Metal, “Cold Hand of Retribution” opens with a full-on Emperor-style blast-beat, and this track combines the brutal, the groovy, and the melodic in an excellent way, making it one of the stand out tracks of the album.

The band has always been known for using several vocal styles, and several growling styles… male and female clean vocals are also used this time. Most of the time this works well – the Death Metal style growling is actually very good – but on “Watch You Fall” (no relevance to the very similarly titled Savatage track) the male clean vocals manage to ruin an otherwise okay track with some Italian-Speed-Metal-meets-German-bierstube-style-out-of-key-vocal-harmonies. Overall, neither of the clean vocalists can be described as God’s gift to the human ear, and in this track it is very obvious. The same goes for “Dry Well of Life,”, but to a lesser degree.

Next up are two more anonymous tracks that aren’t worth discussion. Next, “The Architect of My Downfall” is once again of the more brutal kind, while the ingeniously entitled “Drink Away My Demons” has a bit more Heavy Metal vibe to it, although still quite complexly arranged. “Point Zero” follows in that tradition, and is not a bad song at all. The chorus melody isn’t completely up to par, but the track features several cool riffs and the arrangement is very neat, with the occasional unexpected twist that makes the track more entertaining for the listener.

“Dry Well of Life” and “The Face of Jealousy” close things off, but unfortunately neither of these manage to restore the impression that the first half of the album is far better than the second. “The Face …” does have some good tendencies, though. The riffing is, at times, more Progressive, the atmospheric part manages to create some much needed variation, and the more brutal parts towards the end definitely rock!

Overall the band should be praised for competent musicianship and their great arranging abilities –- most of the songs here are quite complex, and would easily sound messy if not arranged properly. Still, they lack a bit in the songwriting department at times – some of the tracks are too vanilla… this is especially true for the second half of the album. However, this isn’t at all a bad album, but just not consistent enough to receive totally high remarks. If the length was reduced a bit, this album may have been even better… and those clean vocals have to be worked on a bit…


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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