Sparrows
Failed Gods


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mitchell D. W. CONTRIBUTOR (50 Reviews)
August 24th, 2019 | 24 replies


Release Date: 08/09/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lost in the undertow, with no-one near to lend a hand.

Post-hardcore has always possessed a penchant for the grandiose, be it through splendid technicality or towering song structures. Irrespective of methodology, the focus was always on something epic, something that couldn’t already be found in a factory-made hardcore album: a record that dismantled and extended beyond genre confines—that veritable brick wall of stereotypes. Failed Gods is the sound of a roaring stream bursting through the dam that desperately tried to contain it, each crash against the river’s banks reverberating deep underground. Despite the strength of that imagery and the evident confidence of Sparrows on their third full length effort, the accomplishments made on this disc paradoxically arise from a sense of consistent unease. The Toronto collective ebbs and flows amidst the turbulent waters left in their wake. Moments of supposed calm are contrasted by ominous instrumentals and a vulnerable vocal performance that perpetuate this anxious atmosphere, whereas explosive crescendos unearth absolute vitriol spat out in a manner far from nervous. Restraint and aggression, portrayed with commendable emotional grit, power the heart of Failed Gods and send it rampaging around the landscape.

Conducted through a classical framework of post-rock, Sparrows define their work by the orchestration of climactic moments and the journeys crafted to reach them. Slower-paced forays characterize the record, their gradual gait allowing for the near-tangible turmoil to sink under the skin. More often than not, the band is willing to terminate individual tracks in violent outbursts as if they were the primary source of anger—consider how “Repose” erupts in a melodic tremolo supported by thunderous rhythm contributions until the tempo suddenly ramps up, and the guitars regress to their dissonant beginnings, slowly being torn down in a shower of static. The lion’s share of entries on Failed Gods introduce themselves similarly in guises of gentle strumming to create that tense ambiance. String instruments stab through the fragile cover, yet they hold off until launching one final assault. Traversing “No One Gets Past Four” outlines this route immaculately: the ever-present bass lingers as cleans vocals drift along, the heavy scale of all included elements elongating the rather brief duration of just under four minutes. As the closing seconds near, Sparrows amp up the intensity to startling levels, guitars acting more like conduits of a grave warning as visceral screams rise above an all-consuming discord of colossal riffs. Listeners are plunged into darkness, carried under the ferocious current, melody appearing sporadically between exhibitions of foreboding, devastating guitar passages.

When the halfway point of the album comes about at “Black Gold,” this post-rock strategy starts to feel formulaic; tunes are seemingly set on the same pathways without too much divergence in their progressions. Frequently, the sheer weight of the climaxes included are enough to dissuade doubts, but the absence of variation in that structuring can cause uncomfortable deja-vu for the audience. That being said, Sparrows do not always abide by the domineering musical ideology behind Failed Gods and are certainly capable of going straight for the jugular. True opening number “No Masters” is set off running by frantic cymbal-crashing and a rapid bass riff, commanding clean singing and haunting screams dueling underneath an ominous atmosphere. Later comes the spiteful, cynical vocal performance that announces the approach of “Fifth Helena Drive,” which again features immense percussion additions acting as a guide for the crew to follow, all the same being able to act as the ultimate strike to hammer home the heaviness of Failed Gods’ massive sound. Both examples, regardless of immediate audial attacks, unsurprisingly fade from existence in a beautiful, albeit destructive peak of force—all those moments where Sparrows throw out everything they can at whoever lends an ear.

It cannot be overstated how incredible Failed Gods is to behold when it is in full swing. Allegations of a standard tactic are not baseless and it can’t be helped to notice this particular musical identity isn’t exactly unique. Though it’s equally impossible to ignore the passion emitting from the members of Sparrows, all of whom are heard adding their individual touch to the album’s personality. The harrowing nature of beastly tracks akin to “An Honest Coward” make Failed Gods an uncompromisingly brutal experience. The concluding number’s finale feels larger than life, collapsing instrumentals caving in around a fading series of screams that desperately try to unburden their dire message. Even “An Expiry, In Years,” the only time Sparrows refrain from demolishing serene plucking, is thoroughly drenched in a despondent mood. There’s no levity to be discovered within the forty-five minutes of crippling despair presented by this release, perhaps making it an album difficult to love—the audience has to pay the cost of sacrificing their joy to succumb to the waves. As defeatist as that may read, it is described with the best intentions in mind; Failed Gods rewards those prepared to submerge into a world of discordance, a realm where light cannot reach. The immense wall of noise erected by Sparrows produces awe, fear, and even a sense of gorgeousness in how everything falls apart. It’s the soundtrack to drowning, and it couldn’t be more thrilling.



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user ratings (17)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is one beefy slice of post-hardcore. If you're willing, it's not too long of a listen and it's a hard-hitting one at that.



Stream it on bandcamp: https://sparrows613.bandcamp.com/album/failed-gods



Album is also available on Spotify.



Comments, criticism, words, words, and words all welcome.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10191 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gonna jump on this when I get home

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

2019 ain't running out on things to check, the wheel keeps turning.

Papa Universe
August 24th 2019


22410 Comments


I don't like the font you used.
failed POS (which makes sense, considering I can't really POS)

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the support man, haven't seen you in a hot minute. I think you'd enjoy this.



Also, shout-out to Slothcore, who pointed me to this band. Good catch!

Ecnalzen
August 24th 2019


8710 Comments


Hmm... I may end up liking this.

The vocals sound very familiar, especially the cleans, but I can't place it at the moment.

dmathias52
August 24th 2019


831 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Brilliant review, that second paragraph in particular has some remarkable descriptors. Throwing this one on the list

Digging: Courtney Swain - Between Blood and Ocean

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


7998 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album has all of the elements for me to be crazy about it but I can’t shake the feeling it’s all a bit half-baked unfortunately



Fantastic review tho, of course

Digging: Blood Cultures - Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs

SlothcoreSam
August 24th 2019


899 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review Mars,

Was just listening to this album, as i checked the site. And was excited to see this album gettin more attention through an excellent review.



Digging: Western Settings - Another Year

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You guys are too kind. Thank you very much. Hopefully this entices plenty of people to give this a shot!

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


16248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i knew you were gonna review this as soon as I rated it and saw you lol

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah, have I gotten that predictable?

teamster
August 24th 2019


4340 Comments


Post hardcore not my brand of vodka , but hell I will give it a shot.

Digging: This Gift Is A Curse - A Throne of Ash

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well you're quite the post-metal/rock guy, this could carry a degree of appeal for you.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2019


10191 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea this sweet. not normally one for the post-core

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is one that can win over some people ambivalent on the genre I reckon

TheSupernatural
August 25th 2019


2005 Comments


Oh shit I didn't even know these guys were working on anything new. I liked their last album pretty well. It's very 2000s-PH, like Emery, Saosin, and Finch.

Now that I think about it, I don't think I've even heard a single PH release from this year. At least nothing very memorable

WatchItExplode
August 25th 2019


7093 Comments


I was about to write this album off but the the freakout at the end of No One Gets Past Four brought me right back in. I've listened a couple times now and enjoy it quite a bit.

SlothcoreSam
August 25th 2019


899 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah don't give up on the slower quieter moments, cus when the pay off comes, it hits fucking hard. The album definitely picks up with No One Gets Past Four, which is their fifth song. Maybe the song is an inside joke, that when you listen to a new band or album, you won't listen beyond the 4th song, but in the case of Failed Gods, it's a must.

The closer on this album, An Honest Coward, is in my top 10 songs of the year.



MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I definitely agree that this can feel like a bit of a drag at times, a sensation I tried to describe--like there's a formula at play and/or things meander a bit. But, when all elements are added up, the climaxes generally outweigh any perceived downsides.



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