It seems fitting that one of the first 2021 releases I’m reviewing is called End Of Man. A look at the news shows a world in crisis and, for deeper meaning, the common parlance is shifting away from gender specific language. So maybe Fox Face is saying men ruined the planet and we’re all gonna die. Maybe they are saying stop using gender specific language. Either way, yes.
Both of those themes fit this record too. It’s socially conscious stuff but, more important, it’s good rock ‘n’ roll that’s hard to shoehorn neatly into a specific subgenre or scene. While it’s on Dirtnap and has some common ground with the label’s expected sound, it’s also something of an outlier. Fox Face plays punk-influenced music that pulls as much from 1990s alternative music as it does from the pop-punk underground. The songs on End Of Man feature a lot of dynamic shifts, unpredictable song structures, and actual singing. There’s a wide range of emotion, and it varies not just from song-to-song, but verse-to-verse. That depth makes the overall feel more personal and relatable.
“Vessels” kicks off the record with some dark, ominous tones led by an upfront bass before hitting a staccato beat that slowly melds into a rumbling, moody and angry blast. While it covers both high and low emotions, it bounces back from those low points with resilience -- one of the key ways that Fox Face differentiate themselves from their morose ‘90s forbearers. While it explores dark emotions, it’s energetic, cathartic, and empowering. The bass is always changing tones, moving up and down and leading the charge. When the bass takes a backseat, chugging guitars propel things forward, as in “Johnson Death Farm.”
The variety of vocal styles from Lindsay DeGroot is also impressive, utilizing different tones and delivery in each song: sometimes choppy and haunting then, at others, forceful and commanding. I see some Babes in Toyland influence in the bursting “SWF,” minus the feedback, and in the vocal jumps at times throughout the record but the influences are quite varied. “Slow Burn” has a sing-song vibe. The rolling rhythm of “Not Your Home” serves as a shot of adrenaline among some of the spookier elements that crop up courtesy of that dominant bass. You even get some ‘70s rock stoner guitar in the title track and, while I say the bass really sets the tone on End Of Man, in many ways this is guitar rock at its core with a present but hidden commonality with rambling highway tunes.
“Haunt You” is a standout, with a punchy guitar rhythm completed with group vocals at appropriate moments and a careful balance between melodic hook and a subtle groove. Continuing on that mood elevator I mentioned earlier, it’s alternately pissed off and defiant. As a whole, DeGroot is a lead vocalist but the band mixes in backing vocals and a couple trade-offs that give depth throughout the record.
End Of Man is punk ‘n’ roll. Not the cruising down the road with your windows down variety, but the kind that’s has a punk attitude while giving a lot of subtle depth and wider emotional pool that fleshes out those raw emotions with a real life experience.
7.2 / 10
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