On October 2, 2015, Iowa-based Christian metalcore band For Today released their sixth studio album, “Wake”, through Nuclear Blast Records. It is their first album with the label, after signing with them in July of 2015. “Wake” is their first album since 2014’s “Fight the Silence”. The band has made a name for themselves for being outspoken in their devotion to their faith, with vocalist Mattie Montgomery frequently taking a few moments on stage to make statements about his Christianity. When he’s not touring, Montgomery is also a practicing preacher and frequently preaches at churches across the country. Fans have found this to be an endearing characteristic for the band, while others view Montgomery’s preaching as unnecessary and inappropriate for a scene that’s supposed to be all-inclusive.
“Wake” follows a very similar formula that can be found on the band’s other releases. They rely heavily on strong build-ups, often climaxing with a notable lyric screamed by vocalist Montgomery, and leads to a powerful breakdown. While this formula frequently gets tiring to listen to, “Wake” presents a few songs that stray from that equation, such as “Deserter” and “Bitter Roots”, which incorporate more clean vocals, courtesy of rhythm guitarist Ryan Leitru.
It’s true to say that For Today may just be working with a motto of “don’t fix what’s not broken,” but especially with one of the major criticisms of metalcore dealing with the amount of generics within the genre, a lot of bands need to step up and refresh their formula to add a bit of creativity to the mix. “Wake” isn’t a drastic departure from anything For Today has done previously, and that’s one of the major issues the record faces. They certainly took steps in the right direction with their slower, more melodic songs, and there were a few notable moments of technicality in the guitar work, but those moments were too few and too far between to make up for the almost painful amount of similarity amongst the songs.
It won’t turn any heads, and it’s not a record for mass appeal, but “Wake” gets the job done as a For Today record. Mattie Montgomery’s vocals are just as powerful and crushing as ever, the guitar work is as refined as it ever has been and the production cleans everything up really nicely, but this album is just too formulaic to impress anyone who wasn’t previously a diehard For Today fan. Sometimes bands just have to carry the torch that stays lit and not complain as long as albums keep selling.