Fear Before The March of Flames is dead and has been reborn as Fear Before. With the addition of a new drummer, Denver, Colorado's finest musical export decided to shed half of their name. Fear Before reflects not only a new moniker, but also a new musical vision. It builds upon the foundation laid on their preceding full-lengths: 2006's The Always Open Mouth, 2004's Art Damage and 2003's Odd How People Shake. The songs bulge with an increased use of dynamics, nearly every one boasting unexpected twists. Yet the standout feature of Fear Before is the attention given to the vocals. David Marion pushes himself to utilize many different tones and voices, while guitarist Adam Fisher provides an equally bewildering array of vocal styles. The band enlisted a battalion of friends to add vocal ammunition, including members of Fall of Troy, Portugal. The Man and Heavy Heavy Low Low. Casey Bates once again mans the boards and gives Fear Before the larger than life sound it deserves. Blending the progressive melodic sensibility of Circa Survive with the brute hardcore force of Converge, Fear Before has crafted what is easily their masterwork.
"There's gothic thrills, grungey spills, Botch-esque riffs, battering drums, schizophrenic lyrics and intense experimentation here and it all guarantees that ‘Fear Before’ keeps you on your toes like not enough albums do, right until the very end."
Fear Before The March Of Flames have changed. Not just with that new name (don’t get uppity scenesters, it’s just what everybody’s been calling them for years anyway), not just with some new members, but with fresh direction, original drive, and best of all, finally a proper purpose. Don’t get us wrong, in a music world obsessed with repetition this band always seem to be pushing forwards, but throughout all their previous experimentation, genre-hopping, and perpetual motion, the Colorado act had yet to find their identity, yet to truly make their mark. With album number four though, everything finally, firmly, slots into place.
Fear Before’s position, perhaps barely a step or two behind The Dillinger Escape Plan, is following in Mike Patton’s footsteps. Just as Patton went from smart pop to rock schizophrenia to exploring almost every avenue of sound with demented, liberated glee, Fear Before have gone from another screamo outfit to heavy music innovators to doing what they want, when the hell they want, and yet, vitally, making it all sound crucial and cohesive. The method here is the madness, yet there’s definitely just one act capable of this sort of craziness.
So opener ‘Treeman’ is an electric Pollock-esque splatter attack of urgent riff shifts, moody wails, driving drums and mutant Marilyn Manson-esque darkness, ‘I'm Fine Today’ drawls and lurches like grunge brought back from the dead and given horrible drugs, frontman David Marion and guitarist Adam Fisher trading mad but smartly melodic vocal blows, and ‘Everything's Not Shitty’ (amazing title by the way, boys) is like a Thrice epic skewed through warped electronics, collapsing walls of noise, and schizophrenic lyrics, and turned out all wrong. But turned out like the perfect Fear Before song.
Further in and ‘Fear Before Doesn't Listen To People Who Don't Like Them’ is what Nine Inch Nails would sound like if Trent Reznor fell in love with Botch for a week, ‘Tycho’ sounds like the big-top music for a circus that everyone is too scared to attend, 'Stay Weird' is a hypnotic masterpiece, and the closing ‘Review Our Lives’ makes sure this record goes out with a brilliant bang- every note guaranteeing ‘Fear Before’ keeps you on your toes like not enough albums do, right until the very end.
Where Fear Before formerly flailed in many directions at the same time (mostly within the same song) but only hoped that something would hit, only guessed that something would connect, here they know what really works and they employ new perfect tricks at every turn. It all adds up to one of the best heavy albums of the year and a wonderful signpost to the places this band can freely and confidently go next.
Simon T Diplock