Review Summary: Seems like further involved musicianship packed with lots of melody and edgy vocals.
Further Seems Forever had a niche of suffering line-up changes which affected them musically. After their first album, vocalist Chris Carrabba left the band to focus on his –once- project Dashboard Confessional. Subsequently Jason Gleason from –insert band name here- joined to holler and win and lastly there’s other album with ex-Sense Field’s front man Jon Bunch. And lets not disregard that guitarist Nick Dominguez left along with Carrabba and this other guy Derick Cordoba replaced him to take over guitar duties.
Singer changes are very noticeable, not only because of the voice itself but also songwriting. In this album, Mr. Gleason takes both a harder and softer (refined if you will) approach compared to his predecessor. There’s an urgent mood in the vocals which juxtapose close to perfect with, relatively, fiery guitar riffs. The title track bursts in without any introduction and probably is the only straightforward post-hardcore song. Although, they never scream, throughout the album the vocal ranges between delicate and high pitched vocals to strained shouting.
Afterward, How To Start a Fire channels musically a more consistent voyage. This album crosses between “harsh” soulful tracks (not exactly ballads) such as A Blank Page Empire or I Am which is arguably one of their best, and watered down mellifluous tracks like On Legendary and Insincerity as an Artform.
Against My Better Judgement starts sluggish but builds up to be more energetic and consistent than the others mentioned.
Part of their sound must be credited Steve Kleisath’s drumming technique. I believe he uses what in spanish is called “Contrapunto”, which means that there is a contrast in melody and timing of two instruments playing simultaneously; oh and also is worth mentioning he is a known professional poker player.
Anyway, that overall musical pattern contrasts with The Sound because rather than being complex, this basically ends up being a very catchy pop-punk song.
The lyrics are poetic in a Baroque-like style but often ambiguous; Pride War is very upbeat and is a personal favorite, is very short lyrically but it really doesn't make much sense if not related with Christian themes:
"You'd trade our starving eyes
For a tar and feathered heart
A 25 cent execution
To hear your anthem praises
Played on frequency decayed
A breath of frigid self-made winter."
And still, it seems as they are written in a very personal perspective but there appears to be some continuity within the songs.
The Deep is a decent song musically but is one of the best in the lyrical department. Again, I can only relate words like “You'll be a wolf devoured by a lion cause you look like a lamb but baptized in fire” with dark Christian imagery (is it an Oxymoron").
Lastly there is Aurora Borealis which takes a whole different turn to finish the album. This song doesn't have drums nor dynamic guitar soloing, just scratches, sonic landscapes and both crooning and harsh vocals by Jason, closing the album interestingly enough.
So the end result is very artful as depicted in the album cover, and even if it is a little more fuming it has the same melodic level-headedness as in their other releases. Vocals are top-notch and instrumentally more vigorous than ever. If I had to recommend this band I would recommend this album along with FSF B-Sides with Gleason which are particularly the best.