Review Summary: Scarily modern and ambitious mash up of post hardcore aggressive and uneasiness, coupled with NIN influenced eletronic moments, delivered with great passion, intensity and vision. Superb third album, that should have taken them to the big leagues.
Fear Before the March of Flames are a a band that have somewhat angered me. They changed their brilliant name and shortened, but why I ask" Well I thought I would take this opportunity to review their excellent third album, The Always Open Mouth.
They started out life as a humble, yet energetic post hardcore (dare i say it) emo band, who were brimming with energy, and aggression. They quickly shunned there almost happy clappy sound for a much heavier, visceral sledge hammer attack which featured on the second album Art Damage, which showed a direction which the band were headed. Much heavier, much darker, more sinister, and certainly seemed to open the doors for potentially expanding their sound outside of the conventional post hardcore and grind.
The result is their third album, The Always Open Mouth, which was released in September 2006. The band have clearly moved away from their sometimes one dimensional, yet technically impressive, sledgehammer detuned heavy guitar attack, to a much more experimental sound, using the benefits of the studio much more, embracing technology. This doesn't mean they cant throw down killer heavy moments, see Drowning the Old Hag. However, this is a much more thoughtful Fear, yet retaining their dark sinister side, which is clearly evident in the almost military sounding opening, (which they revisit later in the album, Absolute Past). Nine Inch Nails comparisons can be made on electro / technology influenced tracks such as Complete and Utter Confusion and My (***ing) Deerhunter, However, they never quite deliver the heartfelt music Trent Reznor produces, they stick to what they do well, with their dark sinister side always clear and present. Both vocalists have improved vastly, and have managed to differentiate when they should be singing and when they should be screaming very, unlike the previous 2 albums (Art Damage's vocals throughout is mainly screaming) and gone are the sometimes almost out of tune sounding guitar harmonies of the first album, and beneath the chaos soundscape's occasionally become apparent. The musicianship throughout the album is certainly the highest level they have played to, which is how they managed to delve and experiment as they have. The album does start to wear a little thin towards the end, but the excellent Absolute Past ensures the album finishes on a high.
I went to see them live not long after the release of this album, and they blew me away (they shared the bill with The End, who were intensity personified through there passionate front man) and got me more into this album because of that strong showing. I was thoroughly disappointed with their most recent effort, as they haven't moved forward, or tried playing around with the formula they had for this album, which should have landed them bigger support slots, maybe with the likes of Dillinger, maybe even Mastodon. Incredible album that should be in any music fans collection. (provided you like heavy music)