There was a period of time from mid-2004 to about 2007 where the style of music that The Fall of Troy employs was just about the only thing I was jamming. My listening boundaries were pretty narrow in comparison to what I’m now ingesting on a daily basis.
Despite having the blinders on my tastes during this era, I will say this: the tours on which I saw Thomas Erak, Tim Ward and Andrew Forsman, and the bands with which they played have little comparison. In terms of this scene, seeing them with groups like HORSE the Band, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, He is Legend, and even Showbread (that was a weird one)… I was a kid in a candy store. And I love candy.
Whatever genre you wish to pigeonhole The Fall of Troy is up to you, as much heated Internet debate has been made of it. Who cares? They play real loud, with complicated time signatures, intricate guitar work, fast starts and hard stops. Erak is one of the most talented guitarists I’ve ever heard or seen live. And yeah, he may come off as an arrogant prick on stage (and off as well, from what I’ve read; can’t say for sure, as I’ve never met him), but you’ve gotta give it up for dude: he shreds. I hate myself for writing that sentence, but I’m leaving it in because it proves a point.
Doppelgänger is the band’s 2005 release, and their second overall. For me, it also marks the last listenable full-length. I don’t know what happened after it was released, or if the moderate success of lead/only single “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.” got to their heads. That song was everywhere in 2005 and 2006: sports video games, Guitar Hero, some rock radio. It was difficult not to hear it, even if you were just a meathead playing MLB2k6.
I guess this is the part where I editorialize and say that, it’s nigh-impossible to separate a band’s best album from their legacy, and their music “persona.” I’ve only ever heard negative things about Erak’s interactions with his own fans, and considering Manipulator is almost unlistenable, somehow the discography of The Fall of Troy is tainted for me. Yes, Ghostship is crazy good (read: the demos were better), and Doppelgänger is littered with goodies. Just a shame that, in my opinion, the rest of their work doesn’t stack up.
Opener “I Just Got This Symphony Goin’” sets the tone, and lets listeners know right away that Erak uses a ton of pedals to achieve their signature sound. But unlike many artists who also employ heavy effects, Erak doesn’t have to hide behind them – he is a tremendous guitarist and he knows it. And the end of the next track, “Act One, Scene One” shows that, had they wanted to, the band could have developed into an incredible post-rock band.
Many of the songs on Doppelgänger are pop culture references. “Laces Out, Dan!” harkens back to the simple days of Ace Ventura, while “The Hol[ ]y Tape…” is pulled from Mark Z. Danielewski’s complicated but haunting book House of Leaves. There’s even some meta-cheekiness on the song “Tom Waits.” The timeless musician Tom Waits wrote a song called “The Fall of Troy,” so in homage, Erak did the same for Waits. It makes for an arduous Google search. Ironic also that “Tom Waits” is the most chaotic and abrasive they get on all of the album considering the type of ridiculous Pat Boone shit Waits plays (whoops).
I also managed to catch The Number Twelve Looks Like You before their disbanding. TFoT’s “We Better Learn How to Hotwire a Uterus” is the closest they manage to sound like Number Twelve – not quite grindcore, not quite mathcore, but enough elements of each to be an enjoyable banger.
Lyrically, I’m not touching this thing. Draw your own conclusions. Sounds like drug-addled word vomit to me.
Also, did Tim Ward ever find his hat? He was so mad about that.
From their best work Doppelgänger, this is The Fall of Troy’s “Tom Waits” –
Standout tracks: “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.” is far and away the band’s best work; “I Just Got This Symphony Goin’” and “You Got a Death Wish, Johnny Truant?”
Weakest track: “Macaulay McCulkin”
RIYL: Math rock, post-hardcore, experimental hardcore. The Number Twelve Looks Like You, City of IFA, Tera Melos.