You can't judge a book, or in this case a CD, by the cover, but it never hurts to give it a look. The cover of Bitter Fall's debut album, Sweet Rise tells a lot - the image, a woman who looks not entirely unlike a porcelain doll based on Bjork, appears to be drowning in a sea of blue. It's weird looking, and sets you up for what is indeed a strange listening experience.
It strikes me at times that Bitter Fall may have been influenced by NIN, or more accurately by bands that were influenced by NIN, possibly more along the lines of Stabbing Westward. However, I'm not sure Bitter Fall know, at this point in their existence, what type of music they want to play. The rock influence is there, as is the pop, and the industrial - and their songs certainly have a dark tone, but it doesn't always melt together as seamlessly as it could.
The opening song, One More Time is a moody tune, vaguely reminiscent of the Cure, as is Sweet Rise. I can't really explain how they manage to invoke The Cure without sounding a bit like them, but they do. The band's strongest songs come out of this sound - they're darker and tighter and seem to have more of a passion within these songs. When they embrace their angsty side, and lean towards what sounds almost like a MTV "bottled teen anguish" sound such as on How Is This Going to End, things start to fall apart.
Thus, the album ebbs and flows, with incredible inconsistency. The absolute low point of the album, however, is a cover of People Are Strange by The Doors that makes me wish the original had never been recorded so this band wouldn't have had the chance to do this cover. The rest of the album is shades in between, but overall, this isn't bad for a debut. With time and direction, this band could be something interesting, as they certainly have the potential. What they choose to do with that remains to be seen.
Post: Hexagon Records, P.O. Box 42303, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203