Fear Before the March of Flames – Art Damage (CD)

When I first put on “Art Damage”, I couldn’t get into it in any way. I had to put it on a second time and actually focus in so that a track like the opening one could open up to me. I could then pull out different sets of vocals, guitar and bass lines from the seemingly impenetrable mess that FBTMOF operates in. With double-bass pedals alit and guitar lines reminiscent of Slayer and thrash metal in general, “Art Damage” is a very brutal record. The technical nature of a track like “Should Have Stayed in the Shallows” makes for another track that is extraordinarily dense and on the verge of being unlistenable. It is only when someone listens to the relation between the guitars and the rest of the track that the beauty of the band comes through. The numerous aural googahs that hide themselves through the track clutter up the track further but also help in creating an atmosphere that causes the jangly, Converge-like guitars to thrive.

“Art Damage” is the perfect name for this album, as it takes a true purveyor of art (or music) to fully enjoy this album. In three minutes, FBTMOF are album to compress a ten-minute long Pink Floyd/Led Zepplin epic (Consequences David, You’ll Meet Your Fate in the Styx). Actually reaching their apex early in the disc (Whiskey is Alright In Its Place But Its Place Is In Hell), FBTMOF’s use of a hidden second set of vocals (hiding out beneath the polemic guitars of the track) to provide a spoken, harmonic voice to the “cookie monster”-style of vocals that are present on most of the disc is surprisingly well done. This is not a disc to fall asleep with, but it is one to slap on a pair of headphones and focus intently.

FBTMOF is what I would expect a band that gets the publicity of Converge to sound like. I’m not a big fan of this metal/hardcore as a style of music, but there is nothing technically wrong with this disc. In fact, this garners my highest respect due to the septic nature of the arrangements and the virtuosity and teamwork shown by every member of FBTMOF. If you are wanting to look into probably the best band in hard/metal/emocore music right now, chances are that you should go and pick up this FBTMOF album.

Top Tracks: Absolutely Fabulous and Me, Consequences David, You’ll Meet Your Fate in the Styx

Rating: 6.2/10

Fear Before the March of Flames – Art Damage / 2004 Equal Vision / 11 Tracks / http://www.marchofflames.com / http://www.equalvision.com / Reviewed 22 January 2005

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