Hello everybody, and welcome back to A Scene In Retrospect! In this episode, our staff writers Zach and Tim and our PR/social media manager Inter will be talking about The Fall of Troy‘s inimitable record Doppelgänger, informing you of their opinions on and experiences with it. Enjoy!
I was probably around 14 when I first heard “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X” and having quite a limited amount of mathcore/post-rock bands I actually knew of, The Fall of Troy very quickly became a favorite of mine. Mathcore was a new concept to me in the mid/late 2000’s, being a 90’s child transitioning from nu-metal to the post hardcore, progressive metal and early/pre-djent scene, with the only band being relevant at the time being The Dillinger Escape Plan. I knew I had an interest and passion for the style.
Over a decade since the album’s release and I still get immediately hyped when I hear the slow cymbal in the opening seconds of Doppelgänger, within the emphatic “I Just Got This Symphony Goin’”. Band leader, vocalist and sole guitarist Thomas Erak, has a unique vocal range that he exercises from the get-go, balancing his high screamed vocals with calming cleans in a display of superhuman harmony. When first listening to the album, your appreciation for him can only grow, as his lyrical prowess and skills as a guitarist are just mesmerizing. For me, there are not many front-men and lead vocalists that can play and perform such a complex set, and having seen the band live, he can certainly execute everything simultaneously, and I blame only the niche genre and small scene that Erak is underrated as an artist. Drummer Andrew Forsman and Bassist Tim Ward are not to be overshadowed, as they contribute to and complete the beautiful structured madness that is Doppelgänger.
“The Holy Tape….” has remained one of my favourite tracks, because it perfectly encapsulates what I love about this band: Fast pace and unpredictable changes while still remaining melodic and enjoyable. The intro comes in hard and aggressive, the chorus takes the edge off with a calmer less disorientating passage, and then the ending/outro really just punches it into manic overdrive and has the descending sound of returning to sanity from a madness you kind of love. I could listen to only this track on repeat, but the truth is, the entire album deserves just as much attention for both different and similar reasons. I have personally learned so much of Doppelgänger on bass, I’m ready to start a UK tribute band. This album should be considered more influential than it is ,and it kills me that people know “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X” but not “Macaulay McCulkin”. It’s upsetting, but as a fanatic, I still blast this album at least once a fortnight and encourage people to listen through the whole thing nonetheless. Give this band your love and support, please don’t let them break up again!
If you ask me about my top five records of all time, you can be sure that Doppelgänger has a spot on there. I also can’t remember when I wasn’t a big The Fall of Troy fan, since they followed me my whole career as a ‘music-enthusiast’. This album founded and shaped my love for math rock, and I’m still impressed by its impalable sense of dynamic and energy. It’s packed with hits and catchers, so it’s hard to pinpoint a standout track, even though most people could name “F.C P.R.E.M.I.X” as one of TFOT‘s most iconic songs. Until today, I don’t know any band which sounds like them, which is to a great extent based on Thomas Erak’s unique vocals and his distinctive guitar playing.
The symbiosis, but also balance, of a quite rough sound, with a rudimentary instrumentation and their complex, frantic and epic soundscapes is a kind of its own. To manage this way of composition with an incredibly catchy approach to creating huge choruses was always one of my main points of attraction towards this band, since being progressive and technical but also catchy and accessible is one of the greatest achievements in music for me. I can’t praise this band enough for what they are and what they did for my musical identity.
Some people say you’re one in a billion. But that must mean that at least 7,5 people in this world are like you. I think the half person does not really count, but you may have one or multiple Doppelgänger. Doppelgänger is a German word describing a person that looks/is exactly like you. But enough of people, let’s talk about music, because Doppelgänger is also the name of the flashy, math rock/post-hardcore induced record by The Fall of Troy. It was released on the 16th of August 2005 and was the first more mainstream success of the band. What did this record do that lead to this success?
Well, the first track illustrates it: “I Just Got This Symphony Going” starts with a fast, euphoric major key lick that is not too harsh for fans of non-metal music but still technical enough for the usual metal or post-hardcore fan. Thick, popping drums ramble all the way with the guitar. After a few seconds, we get our first jump into the maddening side of The Fall of Troy. The happy-go-lucky melody transitions into thick chords and the voice of singer Thomas Erak is flourishing between screaming and singing. Now the track has reached an almost mathcore-like feel, with strong dissonant chords, screaming and polymeters so complex I had to pull my calculator out. Overall, the band manages to let traces of pop-esque vocals shine through. It’s almost as if Erak tries to sing besides his evil Doppelgänger himself.
Throughout the record, you have these passages in which a protagonist and an antagonist seemingly fight for dominance in these tracks. Is the song thrashing, dissonant, chaotic even? Or is it melodic, calculated, passionate and beautiful? I’d say both. The premise of Doppelgänger lets the listener experience two sides of the same coin. A schizophrenic musical endeavor, if you want.
Another great song, which might be their most popular, is “Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles”. This track with a feel-good groove, over a feel-bad storyline, is one of the calmer songs overall. The band explores many ways to bring the two-sided premise into their songs. A screaming, outraged voice leads us through the chorus while a calm, melancholic one seems to comment on it.
With Doppelgänger, The Fall Of Troy have created a not only technically impressive magnum opus for themselves, but did so in one of the most entertaining, interesting ways. These are love songs for the non-lovers, ballads for the unsung. The record for me is one of the few albums throughout time, that I will never find anything to complain about, a masterfully executed work.
And we’re already at the end of another episode; I hope you liked it! While you’re here, why not tell us your opinion on this album? Leave it in the comments! You can also leave some records that you’d like to see receive the A Scene In Retrospect treatment there. Come back in fourteen days for more of this feature, and until then, stay safe, and as always…
…thanks for reading!