To note that a band often labeled ‘prog’ has progressed would seem almost redundant; however, The Fall of Troy’s new full-length Manipulator has probably caught a lot of listeners off guard regardless, and rightfully so. This record finds the band sharpening the wide array of musical components that made their last release Doppelganger such an intriguing musical collage, while adding even more of them into the mix. For the most part, the band is successful in that they’ve crafted a record full of so many influences and managed to keep it fairly cohesive. The one snag, though, is that while there’s seemingly infinite potential, there are instances on the album where just a little more refinement and attention would turn something great into something epic.

Before getting into the composition, I’ll briefly remind you how extremely talented these three musicians are. It becomes clear in very little time that any flaws the record may wear are in no way rooted in musical limitations; contrastingly, the band only lands itself in trouble when they bite off more than they can chew with regards to their ambition.

“Cut Down All the Trees…,” which includes an incredibly skilled and remarkably unique crescendo/decrescendo breakdown, and “Shhh!!! If You’re Quiet I’ll Show you a Dinosaur” are examples of how the progression into more diverse explorations is beneficial to the band. They incorporate the same crazily intricate guitar work as seen on past material, but are more appealing because of the added dynamics and experiments in timing. “Quarter Past” has a rather jazzy feel to it that is fresh, but perhaps a little too unfocused as a whole track, although it does showcase Thomas Erak’s vocal improvement towards more singing and much sharper phrasing. The jazzy ballad-like “Caught Up” finds the band taking an extreme left turn that, although it seems a real departure for the band, actually fits well on this record if only to directly personify the diversity and experimentation found on Manipulator.

The album has its edgy and chaotically heavy tracks like those that made up the better part of the band’s previous material indeed, but they are more focused and lucid, which is for the most part successful. “Sledgehammer,” for instance, is close to genius, and elevates itself as a track that surpasses anything on Doppelganger and stays fairly focused despite its length. “Ex-Creations,” though, is the best example of how the band hasn’t lost that manically aggressive touch. The track incorporates the ‘heavier’ persona of The Fall of Troy and creates a stand-out of their catalogue. My personal favourite, though, is “The Dark Trail,” which transitions from its frantic and technical verse to a beautifully sung chorus, with Erak singing my favourite line in awhile in: “I don’t have anything better to do than you…” over a few beautifully executed half-time bars.

There are elements of The Blood Brothers, The Dillinger Escape Plan and even… wait for it… Weezer to be found on Manipulator, but in the end, the band carves their own musical niche. Because of all of the different elements incorporated in the record as a whole, ensuring it remains lucid is a daunting task, which the band does pull off admirably. This album is a real step up for The Fall of Troy as it only improves on the potential of their past work. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed, as there are still some insanely technical guitar leads and frantically heavy pieces; yet there is far more maturity and focus on composition which makes this album stunning in its variation. Although my expectations were high, they were certainly exceeded.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Cut Down All The Trees and Name The Streets After Them
02. The Dark Trail
03. Quarter Past
04. Problem!?
05. Semi-Fiction
06. Oh, The Casino!
07. Sledgehammer
08. Seattlantis
09. Ex-Creations
10. Shhh!!! If You’re Quiet I’ll Show You a Dinosaur
11. Caught Up
12. A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama.

Run Time: 47:22