Chris Ratzlaff, vocalist and guitarist of Northlander, inspired my February listening journey. You see, I’d had only my own rough idea of what metalcore and post-harcore was about and to be honest, equated it with My Chemical Romance’s emo stylings, mistakenly. I’d also recently taken Bring Me The Horizon’s crib notes anthology “2004-2013” for a spin, and if you’ve heard “Amo” (2019), marvelled at their brutal musical beginnings before turning pop. The difference between Fallstar and Northlander is like this in a way. Northlander are Chris, Bryan and Cody from Fallstar but in a different guise.
In an interview around the time of Fallstar’s 2013 album “Backdraft”, Chris listed bands that influenced how he wrote music, as well as his vocal style. He mentioned bands like August Burns Red, Beloved, Senses Fail, Taking Back Sunday and The Used, and listening to “Backdraft” I could hear how these influences may have shaped Fallstar’s sound. With less of a hardcore bent than some of the others, and perhaps not as stylistically experimental as The Used are, Fallstar has a heaviness that puts them outside what might be conventionally considered “worship music”. I also get that many churches questioned whether heavy metal music could glorify God, and that many bands like Fallstar were given a cool reception. Christian heavy metal bands continue to fight ridicule from secular bands, but like Fallstar gospel joy continues to shine through in their performances. It is in this time that members of Fallstar composed songs for a future project now known as Northlander.