You may or may not have complained about having to learn geometry in high school, wondering when you'd ever need to know what a rhombus was or when you'd use a logarithmically expanding curve. Since you may not have loved geometry, math, statistics, or any of those other classes you'll "probably never use," I'll keep it simple (something A Hero A Fake also did this time around… but I'll get to that shortly) and talk about a simple bell curve shape since A Hero A Fake's career trajectory, to this point, seems to fit it perfectly. So class, let's take a look at the figure below!
When Volatile presented A Hero A Fake to the metalcore world, it was pretty rough around the edges and there weren't a lot of fully realized, high-quality songs to be found. However, there was a lot of potential there that could be tapped, so on the figure above we see the band starting out around a 2 rating at the beginning of their career.
With Let Oceans Lie we saw exactly what A Hero A Fake was capable of. They tapped into their potential, creating some very solid, if slightly derivative, Between the Buried and Me styled progressive metalcore. The trajectory that the band was on from Volatile to Let Oceans Lie promised even greater things for the band in the future.
But then we have The Future Again… and with it gone are many of the progressive elements, replaced with breakdowns, underdeveloped songs, continued weak vocals, and a real lack of anything substantive. A Hero A Fake has regressed backwards to the level they were at when they first released Volatile which, if we extrapolate out further into their future, doesn't bode well for them.
Setting the graph above aside, it was quite a let down to sit through the extremely short 8 track album that is The Future Again. Even though it's classified as a full length, I'm hesitant to treat it as one. At under 28 minutes, it feels a lot more like a glorified EP to hold over fans until an actual release. It also feels like it was rushed out the door. I'm not sure if the band's intention was to purposely scale back their progressive metalcore tendencies to stick with a much more simple metalcore template, but they're definitely not flexing as many of their musical muscles as they had in the past, so when you listen to it alongside their other albums, it feels very, very lazy.
It should be noted, however, that this album is extremely polished and if you ignore the band's history, it's a relatively capable effort. But I just can't bring myself to look at this release divorced from the rest of the band's career, especially when they can still make a decent song that gives glimpses of where they could go, such as "Princess of the Sun," the album's closing track which, being the best of the album, leaves you begging for the band to give you more.
Let's collectively hope that A Hero A Fake isn't going to stick to this bell curve trajectory because it only foretells a horrible remainder to their career. Instead, I'll hold out hope that we're actually looking at a sine wave pattern, which would mean their next album should be back up to the level of Let Oceans Lie!