Review Summary: Album happens to be just as great as the band name.
Flies are Spies From Hell are proof that a band name can be a major factor in how successful a band can become. I can distinctly remember the first time I saw the name of this band. A friend and I had tickets to see ‘The Matches’ and the Southampton Joiners, a grotty little pub type place with a small stage out back. While waiting at the bar, I noticed a poster advertising an upcoming gig at the venue. I can’t remember much from the poster, except reading that the two bands playing were from the big bad world of post rock. And that one of these bands was called Flies Are Spies From Hell. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the gig, but at the time all I can remember thinking was ‘Damn, that’s badass.’ A mental note was taken, a download was pursued, and here I am now reviewing their record a year later. New bands; take note.
Luckily, the band’s creativity isn’t just limited to their name. While Mountain Language is only three tracks long and lasts less than fifteen minutes, it’s lively piano-led brand of post rock proves that the band have a great amount of potential. It’s obvious from the word go, with first track ‘Mountain Language’ displaying an enviable talent for writing intense melodies. As soon as the dramatic, frantically bare piano melody falls into a pit muddied with two angry guitars and a snarling drum set, it’s difficult not to smile with admiration at the ferventness and unpredictability of the songwriting. ‘King Sly’ features the more tried-and-tested approach, going gradually from quiet to loud with a focused and patient build up of various guitar riffs until eventually leaking into a disciplined climax which threatens to explode but never does. The band finishes on ‘Next Hour’, another piano-heavy track which sounds a bit like Explosions in the Sky collaborating with Elton John. As horrific as that may sound, it’s actually really cool, with the first post-climax seeing the keys being tapped manically but melodically against racing drums and eventually shimmering post rock guitars. The climax comes in again, but again, restrains itself from boiling over and finishes with unexpected white noise.
Unfortunately, the main hindrance to the record is obviously it’s length. At only thirteen minutes long, it’s annoyingly short. A tasty appetizer, but a year long wait for the main course. It’s difficult to criticize the band too much for that, as it’s only an EP, but at only three songs it’s frustrating to see a band create some killer tracks then cut themselves so short. The band also seem to have a slight issue with merging well with one another. The fusion between the instruments, such as on the final climax of ‘Next Hour’ is stilted and slightly awkward. It’s not a major interference to the album, and I’m sure this will be improved with experience, but it is a noticeable blip on the radar. One more thing is the climaxes, which I feel are slightly too reserved. The band play with an obvious passion, and I really think it wouldn’t hurt if they let it all hang out, especially on tracks like ‘Next Hour’. However, this seems like it could be due to poor production, which limits the amount of emotion of show. Bottom line though; this is a band which is going places. By taking the genre by the scruff of the neck, instead of cautiously tiptoeing around it in fear of slipping into derivativity (like many of today’s post rock bands do), Flies Are Spies From Hell have proven that they are much more than just a pretty face. Despite the length, and a few issues with instrumental relations and production, this sprightly quintet have given post rock a much needed rush of blood to the head and here’s hoping a full length is just over the horizon.