Review Summary: Quite possibly one of 2006's "Best Albums No-one Has Heard Of", The Always Open Mouth represents a radically changed band, and one who has discovered their true sound at last.Fear Before The March Of Flames
is one of those bands that were hailed by the scene far before they truly reached their potential. The band has reworked their sound near immeasurably since 2004’s Art Damage, and the result is one of the most complete, solid, emotional, and unique albums of the year. Chocked full of atmosphere, brooding melodies, catchy electronic beats, and raw hardcore jams, The Always Open Mouth
is an incredibly diverse experience, and could only be considered, dare I say it, epic.
Now, I don’t throw around the word “epic” lightly. Some people might be confused by how an album whose average song length is just barely over three minutes could possibly epic. One of the things that makes the CD so unique is how much emotion the band is able to display within such a short amount of space, and how much progression they manage to go through. The band proves that you don’t need 10 minutes songs to be “epic”. You just need to be able to know what you’re doing. Another selling point for the album is how incredibly well it flows. Songs cross over almost without notice, and sometimes you will be hard pressed to tell exactly where you are in the CD. Either that, or you’ll be too wrapped up in how incredible the CD is.
Musically, all band members perform wonderfully. Guitarists Adam Fisher and Zachary Hutchings move away from the “play this chord really loud” hardcore mentality, and both provide some pretty darn interesting riffs. Bassist Michael Madruga is surprisingly audible throughout, and consistently proves himself as one heck of a bassist on each song. Brandon Proff brings in his technical drumming style, and never provides us with a sub-par performance. And vocalist David Marion has finally begun to work on his screaming and shouting abilities, and the result is a more relaxed vocal sound, as David and Adam both share the stage for vocals.
Fear Before’s new sound has allowed them to make tracks that stand out from anything they’ve ever done before. Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party
, the album’s official single, wears it’s electronic roots on its sleeves, and takes a more melodic, “sing-don’t scream” approach that’s oddly refreshing. Though the song only runs a short 2:44, it’s one of the most epic and spectacular songs on the CD, going through as many mood swings as a song three times its length. The final cries of “No one listens to the damned” are a powerful sendoff to the song, and make the song one of the CD’s best.
The lighter highlights continue: My (F***ing) Deer Hunter
is one of the most unexpected tracks on the album, but also one of the best. Starting with a bouncy electronic feel and some interesting percussion, the song is one of the softest and most controlled on the entire CD, and is completely unlike anything the band has ever done before. Once again, the incredible chorus steals the show, and shows you just what kind of emotion the band is capable of. Mouth
and High As A Horse
also bring in a similar, mellow feeling that push them far above the fray.
That’s not to say the band’s more “traditional” songs aren’t just as good. After the subtle, eerie opening of Absolute Future
, the band hits you straight in the gut with Drowning The Old Hag
. You suddenly find yourself blasted headfirst into a devilishly aggressive and chaotic hardcore assault, and the effect is terrifying. Yet hidden behind the blinding intensity is a strong sense of melody that continuously drives the song forward, through all its dynamic changes and fluctuations. For fans of Art Damage, the track serves as an interesting piece of nostalgia. Songs like Lycanthropy
further serve as bone being thrown to older fans. . As soon as the song hits, we can feel the entire mood of the album change from its slower pace to a much more aggressive style, while losing none of its melody or beauty. Lycanthropy goes through as many mood changes as Taking Cassandra… did, and is another standout, as well as a welcome change of pace.
And of course, there are many more standouts to be found within this wonderful CD, each different in their own way. We get the creepy and sludge-ish The Waiting Makes Me Curious
, the sudden violent assaults of A Gift For Fiction
, the two part, six minute epic Complete and Utter Confusion… As A Result Of Signals Being Crossed
, and… well, just about every single other track on this album. There is literally not one weak spot to be found anywhere, and by the time the album wraps up, you’ll want to listen to it several times over again, just to soak in the shear scope of the album.
But, of course, an album is not just determined by individual tracks. It's about how everything comes together in a way that perfectly compliments every aspect of the music. Not only is the music on The Always Open Mouth good, it meshes and flows beautifully. Even through the huge variety of sounds and attitudes, the album never comes off as cluttered, and thanks to the short average song length, each song is just as good to listen to individually.
What more can I say? Pick up this CD immediately. It is a complete triumph on so many different levels, and will leave a solid impact on your opinions on post-hardcore. I would recommend this CD to anyone who is even remotely interested in the genre, or even those who aren’t. Fear Before The March Of Flames
have reached a new sense of focus, and have emerged a stronger, tighter, better band.