The North Carolina metalcore outfit A Hero A Fake is back with their third studio album, and its disappointments far outweigh its pleasant bits. Listening to this record makes you want to revisit the quintet’s earlier full-length albums (which were way longer and more qualified to be considered “full-length” albums than this 28-minute outing), just like trying to forget the “Snow White And The Huntsman” movie exists by revisiting the 1937 animated Walt Disney version.

First of, there is virtually no clean singing on this record, and by that, I mean the kind of singing that actually has variations in pitch and musical sensibility; not monotonous pseudo-singing that sounds more like spoken verses, à la Frankie Palmeri of Emmure. One of the few instances of “clean singing” can be heard for approximately 15 seconds towards the end of the second track, “Dead And Done”, but even then, it comes off as an awkward form of harmonization for vocalist Justin Brown’s deathcore-style growls. Where’s the heartfelt, melodic clean singing heard in older songs such as “Elk River Falls” from Let Oceans Lie and “Superwoman” from Volatile? Deathcore-style growls were already utilized in the band’s earlier full-length albums, but at least they were used interchangeably with proper clean singing.

While the album art is noticeably more detailed and colorful than the band’s previous two albums (and the pointy new logo looks cooler as well), the graphic representation doesn’t fit the overall feel of the music. The album art’s I-Am-Legend-style post-apocalyptic imagery seems to suggest a dread-instilling, pessimistic and misanthropic brand of avant-garde metalcore that might perhaps include elements of pagan black metal (yeah, I was hoping for “blackcore” for a second there). Unfortunately, what you really get is typically fast-paced and hard-hitting metalcore fare; albeit with a little bit more melodic guitar motifs. At least the sixth track, “Wasted Miles”, has a memorable opening riff that is repeated throughout the rest of the song. Unoriginally structured it may be, but still, it sticks in your head for maybe a day or two.

A Hero A Fake may have more melodic guitars and better graphical presentation this time round, but they fail to have any replay value by choosing to take a step back into cliché metalcore terrain by packing more screamo than ever. The album title was aptly chosen in an ironic way; this record does nothing but reinforces the stereotypical traits of metalcore while trying to be modern and/or progressive. If this be the future of metalcore, the metalcore purist in me will always stubbornly party like it’s 2007.

Track Listing:

01. Mechanical Heart [2:37]
02. Dead And Done [3:33]
03. Port Hole [3:26]
04. Wild Fires [4:02]
05. The Constant [4:02]
06. Wasted Miles [2:38]
07. I Have A Knife [3:22]
08. Princess Of The Sun [4:26]

Run Time: 28:03
Release Date: July 17, 2012 (USA, Worldwide)

Check out the song: “Dead And Done”