Black Foxxes
reiði


4.5
superb

Review

by Soupy USER (7 Reviews)
March 21st, 2018 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This album is the James Milner of British rock music in 2018. Perhaps over-looked and under-rated by some, but incredibly versatile, self-aware and willing to experiment with new and bold directions.

Black Foxxes’ 2016 debut album 'I'm Not Well', released by Universal's Spinefarm branch, was met with much critical acclaim, with almost every review citing how this band was almost certainly going to be the next big thing in British alternative rock. The last few years had seen the likes of Nothing But Thieves and Wolf Alice, heavily backed and championed by BBC Radio and the NME, rise up the festival ranks and enter bigger venues every time a new headline tour came to town. Black Foxxes seemed set to follow down this path, but ultimately, it just didn't really happen. They bagged support slots with the aforementioned Nothing But Thieves, as well as Taking Back Sunday, You Me At Six and Deaf Havana - and also played a whole plethora of festivals in the UK, from Reading & Leeds to Slam Dunk, Y Not, Download and everywhere in-between, yet still this is a band who ended the 'I'm Not Well' tour cycle with Tufnell Park's 600-cap 'Dome', as their only London date.

It's fair to say that Reiði has not had the same level of coverage and interest that its predecessor did, but rest assured, that is not a signifier of a dip in quality by any stretch of the imagination. 'I'm Not Well' wasn't a particularly samey record, but as a whole it felt like a band inspired by blues rock and Silversun Pickups, writing a collection of songs that all wouldn't look too out of place on mainstream British radio. Easily digestible sounds too much like an insult, but 'I'm Not Well' as an album was the sort of record that shines the first time you hear it. It was quite immediate and whilst a lot of people were full of praise for it initially, very few seemed to consider it months later when penning their album of the year lists. 'Reiði' on the other hand, could well find itself entering the business end of many people and publication's "bests of 2018".

The inspiration for the title of the album and much of the music itself came from vocalist, Mark Holley, setting forth on a trip of a lifetime to the beautifully bleak Nordic island country of Iceland. 'Reiði', is the Icelandic word for 'rage' - and much like the country itself, this record is, in places, incredibly desolate, but yet at the same time it is very vibrant and breath-taking at the same time. Despite the extreme climate and incredibly harsh conditions, it is the erratic nature of Iceland's weather that makes it so callous and cold-hearted - which seems like the perfect metaphor for this unpredictable album, yet the only cruel disregard that James Holley has for anyone on this record is himself.

The album kicks off with 'Breathe', a Brand New-esque experimental emo rock track which features an incredibly anthemic classical-infused climax, where Foley gives a mere taster of his incredible vocal range. 'Manic In Me' is another emo-inspired track, with the inescapable guitar tones of Jimmy Eat World, but Mark and his band-mates explode at the end unlike anything you've seen from the Arizona quintet.

'Sæla', which was the lead single, is perhaps the most similar to anything from 'I'm Not Well', with the Silversun Pickups influence once again shining through. It is probably the most upbeat track of the record, so it seems quite fitting that it was named after the Icelandic word for 'bliss' - although do not mistake upbeat for "nice".

Reiði benefits from Adrian Bushby's fantastic production job, which makes the songs sound really polished, whilst simultaneously maintaining the rough around the edges feel, which differentiates Black Foxxes from many of their peers as they actually sound like a real band. This is noticeable on 'Sæla' and especially 'JOY' too, which sonically sounds a bit like Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes meets 'If I'm The Devil'-era letlive., as Holley even adopts Jason Butler's almost rap-like aggressive but still effortlessly charismatic vocal style - which is juxtaposed by the shoegazey saxophone interlude that ends the song.

'Oh, It Had To Be You' starts with a piano-led ballad, which wouldn't have looked out of place on Weezer's 'White Album'. Foley bears resemblance to Rivers Cuomo, before the song develops into an experimental post-rock number, which sees a phenomenal crescendo from both band and singer, with the latter hitting some unbelievable high notes. This song seems to instigate a darker shift in tone of the record, with 'Am I Losing It' sonically referencing The Smiths as Foley ponders whether he is indeed losing it, whilst the grungey shoe-gazey 'Flowers', sees him explode, finally shouting 'I am rage. I am a castaway. I am unusable' after an otherwise fairly tranquil track that is somewhat reminiscent of recent Turnover material.

The band leave their most experimental songs for the end though, as 'Take Me Home', the penultimate track, is a Julien Baker-esque ballad with Muse-style elements that combined together create a fantastic piece of music that sounds like it belongs on Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to Interstellar. The closer, 'Float On,' is a post-rock emo-tinged number that acts as the end credits, with Foley bringing his introspective lyrical narrative to an end, as he matter-of-factly states "Now I understand rage - a feeling that is never subdued, that feeling of self doubt, of anguish, of romance..." whilst the band return to the Brand New-stained guitar tones as the record comes full circle – with the final moments seeing one last rage from Foley, before the sound of static guitars mark a fitting end to proceedings.

Black Foxxes have written an incredibly dark, versatile and experimental album, but also one which is very energetic, exciting and nostalgic. This collection of songs simply cannot be pigeon-holed into any one genre - and much like when viewing the Northern Lights, it may take countless hours of observation to truly appreciate and discern what you might otherwise have missed at first glance. This is an alternative rock album filled to the brim with nostalgic emo, grunge and shoegaze influences, as Black Foxxes make a case not just to avoid being left behind by the ongoing Brit-Rock revival, but to actually be at the forefront of it.



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user ratings (47)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 21st 2018


13397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Some structural things here bugged me, but solid review overall. You did a good job describing this one is some pretty good depth. I'm sold on those genre , sounds like something different if nothing else.

Nbehre11
March 22nd 2018


248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love seeing some love for this album, as I’m quite enjoying it as well. Thanks for posting a review!

Digging: Tree River - Time Being

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2018


28014 Comments


Good review man. I can't believe the art for this is still borked. Gonna bring it to the forums.

I am not too sold on the vocals yet but the music is solid.

Digging: Besvarjelsen - Atlas

Soupy
March 22nd 2018


46 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The vocals take some getting used to for sure. I found them jarring them jarring enough on the debut that I didn’t give it that much time, maybe only 2 or 3 listens aside from the singles. I think the fragile and unhinged nature of them boost the style of this record though, hard to see where he goes and what he does with it next. I watched them with little more than a passing interest at 2000 Trees in 2016, but this has made them a must see for me this year.

Papa Universe
March 22nd 2018


22505 Comments


Pos-worthy review.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2018


17113 Comments


Anyone jumped on that art yet? Or are we due for a mod fix?

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2018


28014 Comments


I submitted new art last week but didn't comment on the forums. probably is there on qeue.

NorwichScene
March 22nd 2018


3205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best summary ever!

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 22nd 2018


13397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmph. This had some great highlights for me. Don't know where exactly to place this one. Some songs were pretty weak, but others really hit some killer climaxes.

NorwichScene
March 23rd 2018


3205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^Same

Soupy
March 23rd 2018


46 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I found it improved with each extra listen.

Snake.
March 30th 2018


24147 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album fucking sucks

Digging: Hatchie - Giving the World Away

JimiLuxembourg
May 14th 2018


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was totally surprised when I heard this one. The songs on this album are so strong, there is no weak point. Last year I have discovered Brand New which ended on the top of my 2017 list. This year belongs to this guys and they deserved it.

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2018


4448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review! been really enjoying this, though some songs are a tad too repetitive

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Conmaniac
June 11th 2018


26984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this looks rly goooood too

Conmaniac
June 12th 2018


26984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

jammin now

Conmaniac
June 13th 2018


26984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh this slays

Conmaniac
June 13th 2018


26984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

slows down a bit near the end but has some Manchester Orchestra soundin gems

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2018


17587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There’s no notable classics on this but everything is so consistently great

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

NorwichScene
August 15th 2018


3205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Am I Losing It is probably my favourite



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