Review Summary: While uneven in nature, Fero Lux/Courtships displays the true prowess of two of hardcore's most promising acts.
Coming off their hot debuts in 2011 and 2012 respectively, Courtships and Fero Lux have a lot to live up to with their new split. Fero Lux's Some Divine Ashtray
was an exciting amalgam of math core and post-rock, and Courtships' The Feral Sound
was a ferocious blend of sludgy hardcore and piercing guitar licks. Both albums succeeded in gaining more fans for the promising groups, and the thought of the two collaborating is a very promising one. When two equally competent newcomers work together to craft something memorable, it just makes sense that the end result would be thrilling.
contains some of the most jarring tracks either group has recorded, and it has to do with some very important stylistic shifts. Both groups undergo subtle changes, making the experience especially worthwhile. The most notable difference in Fero Lux's sound is vocalist Victor Skamiera veering away from singing: this isn't surprising, either. One of Some Divine Ashtray
's biggest flaws was Skamiera's occasionally off key vocal melodies, and so it's nice to see the group advancing towards a sound that works best for them. Fero Lux instead work with spoken word in "Say It Like Pacino," and the approach works incredibly well for their style. And Courtships drops any subtleties from their sound, and embraces an energetic madness reminiscent of their biggest influences. The Feral Sound
is more dynamic in nature; Courtships' tracks here are instead explosive, all the way through. These changes, while initially subtle, end up in one unpredictable album.
Fero Lux's half is an exercise in honing strengths and diluting weaknesses, and this formula leads to success. "The Devil (Hooah!)" is a concise track, but it's filled to the brim with fun riffs. It's also got some frightening screams within, another area in which Skamiera has stepped up to the plate on this release. Instrumentally all the musicians are at the top of their game, whether it be from disorienting rhythmic grooves or ambitious work on the guitar. The only noticeable flaw of Fero Lux's side is its prolonged denouement - "Say It Like Pacino"'s ending is far too long. There's nothing inherently wrong with the dramatic climax itself; the deconstruction is just placed at a curious moment. Perhaps the ending would come more fittingly after more material from Fero Lux, for wrapping up two tracks with such a grand statement feels highly unnecessary. Putting things into perspective, though, this problem isn't even close to worrisome. At least this is some of the best material Fero Lux have written, comparable to Some Divine Ashtray
's most bombastic moments.
Courtships' half is more of a mixed bag. The Feral Sound
implied the group's next release would feature killer riffs, one ferocious vocalist and clear production. The group only have the first two attributes on their side here, somewhat of a deal breaker. Courtships' half is very well-written and musically exciting, but the less-than-flattering production waters down the overall experience. Sure, "DOA" is the angriest song here, but it's hard to appreciate when the song sounds like it was recorded in the one of the band members' garages. There are even issues with the sounds of the instruments themselves: the snare drum is astoundingly weak here, for instance. This is a shame, too, because the songwriting on Courtships' half is about as enjoyable as Fero Lux's. We're able to see the group is still able to write powerful tracks; they just need to find the proper means with which to display them.
At least Courtships succeed with "Japam," a dutiful cover of Botch's classic track. The production isn't half bad here, and the group does a wonderful job of properly displaying Botch's energy by channeling it into their own domain. If they can treat their own music as delicately as they do their influences, Courtships will be more capable of reaching their forefathers' heights.
Overall, though, Fero Lux/Courtships
is definitely a success. Fero Lux have created two of their most rewarding tracks yet, and furthermore, there are numerous signs that Courtships are capable of writing some truly massive tunes. It's exciting to think about where the groups go next, too, because two big hardcore acts with even bigger potential are sure to really make something of themselves.