According to guitarist Adam Fischer, "The Always Open Mouth is the person in the crowd who, when you say something, they yell out 'Fuck you, play another song'." With this in mind, it's not hard to imagine what to expect from Fear Before the March of Flame's third album. Raw and scathing, this is an all-out attack on the ignorant and the blinkered. The band would have us believe that they - like the damned prophet namesake of "Taking Cassandra to the End of the World Party" - are among the rare few who can see through the lies the world is fed upon to the corruption beneath. This is fairly dangerous territory. After all, the fire of many a teenage angst-ridden rant has been fuelled by similar thoughts. Thankfully, however, Fear Before the March of Flames manage to carry it off with style and none of the pimple-faced wailing that could have so easily ruined the record.
Musically, The Always Open Mouth shows a lot of progression. Fisher, again, explains: "I honestly don't think that people, on this new record, are even gonna give it the chance it deserves." Toning down the screaming and reigning in their dissonant noise, the band explore a slower, more experimental side, which is likely to surprise and perhaps even delight those who were turned off by the likes of Odd How People Shake. When compared with the bands past efforts, The Always Open Mouth is a much more cohesive, focused piece of music, with the addition of another guitarist and antiphony of David Marion and Fishers call-and-response vocals lending the album a lot of strength and variety.
Opening with a slow and eerie piano riff, the pace quickly picks up on "Drowning the Old Hag", one of the heaviest numbers on offer. Second track "Mouth" is my personal favorite, with the surprisingly angst-free closing line of "We're trying to speak clearly but our voice's get drowned out by the over excessive braying and the always open mouth." "My Deer Hunter" is another standout, with its swirling electronics, featuring guest vocals by Circa Survive's Anthony Green. On the frantic "Lycanthropy" the band even veers towards the industrial with a sinister beat that My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult wouldn't turn their nose up at.
Slow or fast, soft or hard, it's all here. Likely to please both newcomers and fans who have eagerly followed the bands progressing growth from the beginning, The Always Open Mouth is a definite success and one of the best records of its kind to be released this year. If you haven't already, give it a listen.
Very few bands, after putting out two records that made me cringe, put out a record that moves me. Not very few, make that zero bands, except for Fear Before the March of Flames. Odd How People Shake and Art Damage were both unappetizing attempts to reach some sort of plateau where they could rain down shit on everyone around them with their hipster-garbage. I'm not 100% against what has been called the "Art Damage" movement, but the forced spazzy, unintelligently "poetic" aesthetic of it makes me leery of it. I mean, it was one thing with Gravity Records, whose roster boasts some of the most unapologetically harsh and powerful bands I've ever heard, but the kids with Spock-haircuts who tried to cop the sound five years later failed - but not commercially.
Anyways, all bitching aside, The Always Open Mouth is awesome. These guys come out of the gates with heavy angular rifts, a pretty evil Hydra Head by-way-of Equal Vision scream, and a big fat slathering of electronic texturing. This isn't some cheesy throwback to New Wave, or Dark Wave, or No Wave or whatever it is that girls are putting on their Myspace pages. It's more of an unsettling minimalism akin to Swans - which is an analogy I'm not entirely comfortable in making because it doesn't really ever reach the pinnacle of inaccessibility, but it gets pretty stark and weird.
"...As a Result of Signals Being Crossed" followed by "My (Fucking) Deer Hunter" placed smack dab in the middle of the record are clear indicators that these guys aren't aspiring to be the next Botch, they're more concerned with pushing the boundaries of what we're willing to accept. Tons of talking, slow build-ups and no explosion. They get aggressive, but keep it subdued and the lack of that gratuitous indulgence really pays off. I'd say they exercise a lot of the muscle of a screamo band (pun intended) in composing strong songs that don't rely on massive breakdowns or blast beats or ten second second-rate Dillinger knock offs. Instead dragging basslines and a healthy amount of pedal work propel the songs along until they finally let go and show some chops.
The bottom line is if you were not amused by the antics of Fear Before the March of Flames, their oddities are now newly manifested and you just might find yourself wondering why no one has done this before.
8.6 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
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