Falling Away is the follow up to South Carolina hard rock act Crossfade's platinum debut. Released in 2004, the self-titled disc was actually a cleaned up version of an independent record released by the band (known then as Sugar Daddy Superstar) before they signed with Sony Records. The lead-off single from the reworked disc, "Cold," spent 65 weeks on the charts and quickly made Crossfade a household name.
The band, now a three-piece after the departure of back-up singer/DJ Tony Byroads, write and record underneath a dark cloud. The material on Falling Away is mostly bleak. The songs, written by lead singer/guitarist Ed Sloan and bassist/vocalist Mitch James, deal with love gone south, love found and then lost, as well as death. Whether he's ready to throw in the towel, on the menacing "Washing The World Away," or lashing out at a soon to be ex-lover on the aggressive "Drown You Out," Sloan is in a cynical state throughout the eleven track disc.
Even when he's happy Sloan sounds like he's ready to end it all. "Invincible," a heavy love song, finds the gloomy singer/songwriter ready to abandon his "dead-end dreams" for a girl. Even though he's in love, Sloan still sounds depressed. The singer's mates lay down a quicksand rhythm behind him. Sloan's, um, cheeriness, quickly dissipates on the brooding "Falling Away." After finally getting past the depressive state of his past relationships, the singer winds up with another broken heart. Sloan pours the drama on thick. "I'm falling away/ These are my dying days," he mewls.
"Already Gone" starts off with a pretty acoustic guitar and warm vocal, but the prettiness is quickly replaced with bruising electric guitars, a pounding rhythm section, and barbed lyrics. Sloan, who played all the guitars on the album, borrows a few riffs from James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett (Metallica). "Everything's Wrong" starts off with the same type of jangly acoustic guitar/warm vocal, but eventually explodes into a crushing and dejected number that finds Sloan once again reeling from a failed relationship. (Hey, nobody said love was easy, especially when you're a heavy metal singer.)
The misery continues for Sloan on "Breathing Slowly," a chunky track with rapid guitars and dejected lyrics. Even though Sloan is dealing with yet another busted heart, the song stands out as one of the better tunes on the album. Finely fretted bass lines and a laid-back drum delivery from tub thumper James Branham emphasize Sloan's melodic vocals, by far his best on the disc.
If you like hard rock written from the dark side of the heart (and let's be honest, which metal head doesn't?), then Falling Away belongs in your CD collection.
By Todd Sterling