FEAR BEFORE THE MARCH OF FLAMES - The Always Open Mouth
What is the The Always Open Mouth? Well, other than being Fear Before The March Of Flames stunning third album, they are people who dismiss others for their various beliefs and stances, according to guitarist/vocalist Adam Fisher. “There is always someone who is going to tell you you’re wrong, and they usually think they have it 100% figured out, when the reality is no one has anything 100% figured out. If they think they do, they are either A) an all-knowing superbeing from another realm sent here to save us all or B) a fucking loud mouth bigot. They are The Always Open Mouth.” One can interpret Fisher’s statement as a comment towards those who classify Fear Before as “Converge rip-off’s,” or refer to 2004’s Art Damage as an emotionless piece of garbage. With, The Always Open Mouth, Fear Before set out to show up those critics as well as reinvent themselves. This fifteen song odyssey was produced by Gatsby’s American Dream’s Bobby Darling and longtime GAD producer Casey Bates, but don’t expect any GAD influence on this album. The Denver, Colorado, sextet have wrote their best album to date, an album that takes your through many different phases and will leave you exhilarated at the end.
The album begins with the quiet yet haunting intro “Absolute Future,” which makes you realize that we have a new and improved Fear Before. The lyric “Everything will not be made right,” is repeated several times until the intro seamlessly leads into the blistering “Drowning The Old Hag.” “Hag” is one of the harder songs on the album and one of the few that’ll remind you of Art Damage. One thing you’ll notice is the battle between melody and discord throughout this track and the rest of the album. Another thing to pick up on is the fact that lead vocalist David Marion has added singing to the mix, something he did nothing of on Art Damage. The next track, “Mouth,” is more experimental, replacing crushing guitars and fierce screams with raspy vocals, crashing cymbals, and a technical vibe. “Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party” is one of the best songs on the album and is full of diversity. It begins with a jittery key chord and a needling guitar tone. This track is trippy as hell, to hear it in its full glory, listen to it with headphones on. Marion’s anxious yells combined with Fisher’s creepy falsetto makes this one of the standout tracks in Fear Before’s entire discography. “Ten Seconds To Los Angeles” has sort of a industrial feel to it, and the guitars wail and strike throughout. Fisher's high vocals add a nice contrast to Marion’s brutal roar as Fisher and Zach Hutchings kick in with the guitars, and Brandon Proff brings it on the kit. Proff recorded all the drumming on the album, but he has left the band and has been replaced by Clayton Holyoak. “The Waiting Makes Me Curious” brings the overall pace of the album down about 100 mph and waddles on. It’s not my favorite track on the album, but it shows how far Fear Before has come on their musicianship, as the ending is very climatic and redeems the first few minutes of the track. “High As A Horse” begins with a sharp key chord and the guitars are the driving force in this track. The vocal work by Fisher and Marion really make this song what it is. The anxiety is present in the chorus, and the rousing yell of “It was a damn good plan!” really make this song stand out for me. Again, the constant fight between melody and discord is evident here. “Dog Sized Bird” really showcases Proff’s drum skills and Johnson’s work with the keys are highlights of this track, as again, Fear Before is trying something different, this time showing off a little Nine Inch Nails’ influence. The track fades out into “Complete And Utter Confusion,” which begins with fuzzed out vocals and leads into Marion’s barking vocals and guitars that bust your balls. “…As A Result Of Signals Being Crossed” begins with an atmospheric mood to it, and is calm with gentle vocals for the first two minutes, then the assault begins, as Marion and crew unleash. “My (Fucking) Deer Hunter” follows, and what we get is the best song on the album. A soft techno vibe with low, scrambled vocals from Marion sets this up as a very mysterious song. Then the band kicks in and Fisher's improved singing shines, while Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green singing backup. The guitars are shrill, the rhythm section is vibrant, and the overall setting of the song is very dark, very moody, and very good. This leads us into the exhilarating “Lycanthropy,” which was the first new song Fear Before put on their Myspace over the summer. This song was the song that first showed me that Fear Before was on to something different and better and really made me excited for this record. The contrast between verse and chorus is great. “A Brief Tutorial In Bachanalia” reminds me a bit of “Should Have Stayed In The Shallows,” with its beginning lyrics describing alcohol consumption. It’s an intense song, with the double bass kick from Proff and Mike Madruga’s bass thunders down. One more time does Fear Before balance between a frenzied pace and chilled pace, and again it works out very well. The bridge and climatic ending really slays and ends the song on a killer note. “A Gift For Fiction” rips through your eardrums with its bombastic beginning and unforgiving vocals. The drumming shines here as well. This drum fill leads into the final track “Absolute Past,” which concludes the album in the same fashion it started in. The drums and guitars march on and the band chants together “Everything will not be made right” at the end. So, just like an excellent story or speech, the album comes full circle with that one lyric, thus ending this adventurous album in such a way that leaves you wanting more and waiting to see what this band comes up with next.
After numerous spins of The Always Open Mouth, I came to the conclusion that this is Fear Before The March Of Flames White Pony or Vheissu, in which the band totally rediscovers their sound and overall view on music in general. Fear Before is not a band that enjoys making the same record twice, and instead of writing another Art Damage, they have ditched the generic genre of metalcore and released something fresh. The Always Open Mouth is not an album that most people will “get” upon first listen. This is an album that’ll need a few spins to truly understand the overall gist of the album and the goal the band was aiming to achieve. Personally, this is easily one of my top three albums of 2006 and one of the few albums that didn’t disappoint and lived up to my expectations. The Always Open Mouth displays a great technical sound to it while maintaining the rawness and passion from previous Fear Before releases. In the end, The Always Open Mouth is one of the best records Equal Vision have released in the past few years and Fear Before The March Of Flames have released an album that is diverse, exciting, and is bound to make waves in the scene. Pick up The Always Open Mouth this Tuesday, as it is bound to shut those open mouth’s and instead drop jaws with this very impressive record.
Why would he get shit for this? I liked "Odd how people shake" and hated "art damage" but this review makes me want to hear the new disc. One more thing....REVIEW CURSIVE'S NEW CD "HAPPY HOLLOW" one of the best albums of 06.
Amazing review Drew. I have been looking forward to this album ever since i heard the amazing lycanthropy. I didn't find it in the sales for best buy. do you know where you can pick up a copy for under 11 dollars because FYE will probably have it but will probably charge around 15 dollars for it too? everyone should buy this album