Review Summary: One of the best and most solid and unique albums of the year. I know that's saying a lot, but it is true.
Fear Before The March of Flames is a band that performs a hybrid of screamo, hardcore, and metalcore to achieve a sound that isn’t necessarily original, but certainly sounds more experimental than most of their peers. Well now the band has added a new genre influence into its sound, that of ambient electronica and industrial music. Industrial screamo? Even loosely translated, not quite, but still it certainly fills the criteria for one of the more unique and well-composed albums to come out this year
Catchy, heavy, atmospheric, psychedelic, this CD quite literally has it all in a nutshell. The guitars are not nearly as thin as on previous albums, and the sometimes-distorted basslines only thicken the orgasmic experience more and more. While its not as if Fear Before has taken any great leaps in musicianship, their composition skills have most definitely matured and make use of it with catchy phrases and musical sections that evolve and lead into one another, though they still stray outside the mainstream realm of verse/chorus structuring, which again gives this album its own feel.
The chaos theory abrasiveness found in the band’s earlier material still makes appearances, but thankfully, unlike the previous album Art Damage
, The Always Open Mouth
is not oversaturated with meaningless dissonance. However, another gem is to be found in this new release. The electronics are perfect. They lend the essential industrial feel that is the final element to put The Always Open Mouth
above the countless other post-hardcore albums available.
After a short industrial/acoustic intro, Drowning the Old Hag
goes straight for the throat. Heavy rhythms precede guitar leads that seem to be almost moaning with either disdain or apprehension as samples, atmospheric riffs, distorted bass, electronics and both clean and screamed vocals make appearances (though mostly the latter). Mouth
condemns corporate traditions with lyrics of disgust in typical post-hardcore fashion; not much to rave about initially until the atmospherics again are put to great use. Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party
brings in the fusion of Interpol-ish dance groves with emo elements with some seemingly abstract/metaphoric yet catchy lyrics narrate.
The middle section of the album is probably the most ambient and make the most of Fear Before’s flirtations with electronic effects, though not without their own distorted climaxes of screaming and drop-tuned guitar frenzies. …As a Result of Signals Being Crossed
has some dual vocals done in typical Fear Before-brand screamo style over not only some heavy guitar but synth lines as well. Lycanthropy
is sort of the “single” in its all-encompassing metaphorical nutshell of what this new material is all about, bringing the tempo up a notch or two to pave the way for the booze-drenched screamo/metal/post-rock hybrid of A Brief Tutorial in Bachanalia
. Before you know it, the CD is over and you have to go through all the trouble of going back to the first track so you can have another listen. Or two. Or seven.
By far one of the best things to come out this year. And, I think, to happen to “scene” music. A lot of Fear Before fans are already disdaining this release, but musically they’ve never been stronger or more focused (though I guess their sense of an “I don’t care” attitude was a little bit more appealing to some people).
…As A Result of Signals Being Crossed
A Brief Tour in Bachanalia
Taking Cassandra to the End of the World Party
Drowning the Old Hag
By far. My reviewing skills could not do this album a hint of justice.