Fear Before “March” into Foreign Territory

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2008 at 1:56 am

Coming into their fourth full-length album, Colorado art-core vets, Fear Before the March of Flames, decided it was time to make a name for themselves, or at least a new name.   With their previous two releases, 2004’s Art Damage and 2006’s The Always Open Mouth, Fear Before the March of Flames had cemented their place as an up and coming band with ambition and direction to burn.  So when the band curtailed their name in early September, settling on Fear Before ,many fans were left scratching their heads.  Bassist Mike Madruga explained in a press release the long version of the name as a challenge that the band feels they have met over the last three albums. “The long version of the name was good for us in the beginning because it was interesting and stood out. It paralleled our mentality of playing the music we were writing because we told ourselves, ‘If we can pull off having this name, we had better be able to pull off the music we were writing.’ The new album is 10 strong songs, no fillers or tag-ons… and we want the band name to replicate that.”  Moving on as Fear Before the band’s self-titled new album, like each new release in their history, is vastly different than the one before it, only this time the change is more than just in the sound, but in every aspect of the approach.

From the first verse of the opening track, “Treeman”, Fear Before sounds different than anything the Colorado five piece has every done.  Vocalist David Marion, known for his guttural larynx-shredding scream, is, instead, toned down and mixed in amongst layers of vocals.  It doesn’t take long for Marion to return to form, sounding like the twisted ringleader of some fucked up circus sideshow later in the track.  While “Treeman” is the opening track, it outs the new Fear Before philosophy: more is more. Where Art Damage saw the band on a relentless hardcore tear, and Mouth showed the guys maturing their previous sound with synths, layers, and, most of all, moments to breathe, the self-titled album is Fear Before doing their best to move away those previous records.  In some cases, Fear Before sounds totally different. At other times, “The March of Flames” still burns through. The combination may take time to grow on long-time fans, but in the end, new and old alike should give Fear Before a shot.

Dense is the word to describe Fear Before.  The album, produced by Casey Bates, is ten tracks chock full of erratic instruments, gang vocals, lingering synths, samples, and creepy background noises constantly playing tricks as they pan from one speaker to another.  Early songs on the album like “I’m Fine Today” and the album’s first single “Fear Before Doesn’t Listen to People Who Don’t Like Them” show off Marion’s and guitarist/vocalist Adam Fisher’s twisting, turning vocals.  Since the screaming has been turned down, the haunting prose of the two is finally decipherable, proving the new direction is no more mainstream than the old one.  With that said, there are some cringe-worthy moments, like Fisher singing “No one understands me/ No one understands” on “Bad Day” or Marion on the whiney beginning of “Stay Weird” (an awesome track after that, by the way). Fear Before also hosts a few guest appearances from other bands like The Fall of Troy, Heavy Heavy Low Low, and Portugal. the Man ( PTM appear on one of my personal favs “Everything’s Not Shitty”). The album’s biggest surprise is the fifth track, “Jabberwocky”, (where’s Mario Lopez?) where Fear Before go *GASP!* acoustic. The track has Marion and Fisher going back and forth over a spiraling verse line, ending in an infectious one-liner, “That’s what I’m afraid of these days”.  “Jabberwocky” snaps back into Fear Before norm with new drummer Clayton Holyoak pounding out the path.

Fear Before holds true to their word.  The new album mirrors the band’s name change.  Dense, concise, and, at times, confusing Fear Before is an effort with no trepidation or panic in terms of blazing a new trail.  If you’re a long time fan, give the album a chance. If you’re new to Fear Before, go right ahead and pick this album up first.   For Fear Before, there is no better way to start the next chapter than cutting the fat and adding raw musical muscle, change is their game and once again they’ve found a way to win.


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