|Photo by Coleman Rogers Photography
Last year One Fall won us over with their self-titled EP, and this spring they blew us away when they won the 2023 Rock & Roll Rumble. Now the Salem, MA punks are back with Spine First! a new EP that's blowing us away all over again.
Once "Rage/Quit" starts, you'll know if One Fall are for you. (Spoiler: They are.) It's this burst of fast, thrashy punk rock with some of the most killer melodies around. Part of the appeal is singer/guitarist Helen McWilliams. She's one of the most engaging performers in Boston these days, and her pure charisma is more apparent on Spine First! than it was on the previous EP. A song like "Surrounder" is as heavy as it is catchy and melodic. It even has a fantastic metal guitar solo, which seems to come out of nowhere but makes perfect sense. And then that is followed by what might be the best breakdown of the past two decades. I think that's the appeal of a band like One Fall. They take the best parts of punk, metal, and hardcore and make something that's all them. Once you figure out how Spine First! is going to go, they come in with a song like "Raleigh," which is a mid-tempo (as far as One Fall goes) near power ballad. (Power ballad is a relative term, as this might be the fastest and heaviest song on another band's release.) "Back to the Wall" reminds me of Anthrax's experiments with hip hop. Just when I start wondering if One Fall made this EP just for me, they close it out with a cover of Bruce Springsteen's iconic "Born to Run," so maybe they actually did?
One Fall says of their new EP:
“There’s a lot of rage and frustration in the lyrics this time around – a lot of the lyrics on Spine First! deal with misogyny and how American capitalism intersects with and drives patriarchy and rape culture. But there are also a lot of themes about choosing who your family is and what family really means. An underlying lyrical theme throughout the EP is about devoting yourself to the people and passions that really matter to you, amid the frustrations and injustices of a capitalist culture.”