A horrible hack

Benton Falls

Guilt Beats Hate

Year Released: 2003
Format: CD
Label: Deep Elm
Reviewed by Tom Sloan on Jun 13, 2007
How pretentious have deep elm’s band descriptions on their website been over the past? About 6 months ago I was just about getting tired of blind romanticising of some generic indie-rock of being ‘essential like air’ or ‘like a best friend in a time of need’, or something. However, finally there is a batch of releases that *perhaps* deserves such romantic comparisons. This record, like Red Animals Wars’ and Desert City Soundtracks’ latest, is bloody excellent. Benton Falls have found their sound, and its all sounding just so right as I listen to Guilt Beat Hate for the umpteenth time today. The indie-rock sound that characterised earlier songs has been refined, improved, and given a whole lot of more oomph than before. If bands like Taking Back Sunday and Thursday bring a punk-rock sound to what is a relative new-wave of so called emo-core bands, Benton Falls take the blue-print of impassioned indie-rock and add thick loud riffs, pounding drums, time and tempo changes and screaming/soaring vocals to quite inspirational effect. Within 30 seconds of the cd starting to play I just know I’m going to love it. A twinkly intro gives way to a warm, loud, tense off-kilter riff before settling back into quiet territory with those familiar vocals that seem to have found the perfect home on this soaring, dynamically rich record. Tracks two and three are even better, catchy lead licks leading into even catchier sections of big guitars, later bridging off with screamed back ups; you just gotta love the way Benton Falls hold back, not overdoing these vocals, then hit you with them reflecting a lyrical bitterness that is pulled off with genuine sincerity throughout. If confirmation that Benton Falls have dramatically upped the ante is still needed, one listen to ‘Angel On Hiatus’ should suffice in informing you that they are capable of quite sublime song writing. To me, this song sums up everything good about them, the pretty guitars surrounding driving bass lines and pounding drums, an intricate build up to a teasing crescendo of sound before a brilliantly drummed break down eventually leads up to a final outburst of emotion and loudness with those screamed backing vocals implemented to dramatic, rousing affect. I was actually driving along on a winding road in today’s heat with this song playing thinking just how fucking good it is and how it would certainly be the highlight of any new mix-tape I’d make in the coming weeks…but then the next song ‘like portraits on walls’ comes on and is all warm and fuzziness and restrained loudness…ahh, the sample and bridge towards the end, and it’s all so perfectly balanced and I’m thinking that’ll have to go on there as well.

In fact, it’s a fine testament to Benton Falls that the quality is high from start to finish, and yet there is still space for stand out songs and moments. This album will obviously appeal to everyone with one or more Deep Elm record in their collection, but with Guilt Beats Hate you get the distinct impression that alongside the masterpiece that is Black Phantom Crusades, this will be appealing to people everywhere who haven’t even heard of the label, proving quality music prevails in the end over preconceived ideas about labels and genres, which has to be a good thing.

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