CDs: Fear Before The March of Flames - Art Damage
By Mark Hensch
Art Damage is a fitting title for
Denver, Colorado's spaz-core up-and-comers Fear Before The March of Flames.
Heck, their band name is a fitting title too. I personally take it to be
a metaphor to be that moment in today's crazy world right before the "fires"
of change hit, and the preceding fear as it inches closer and closer. Regardless
of your interpretations, this is a band that gets right to the issues at
hand without making you think they've ever even been touched upon.
Formed in late 2002, the band debuted on
Rise Records with Odd How People Shake. Mixing lyrical stylings
reminiscent of the surreal fare sported by the Blood Brothers, crazy spaz-core
similar to future label-mates Converge, and an hit and run attack on pop-culture
sounding like a higher-pitched Every Time I Die, Fear Before instantly
got some serious attention. Recently courted like mad by labels the world
over, Fear Before sneaked onto Equal Vision records, home of such bands
as (formerly) Coheed & Cambria and Boysetsfire, and more underground
favorites like Converge, Bear Vs Shark, and Alexisonfire. On the crowded
yet intelligent hardcore section of the label, Fear Before re-issued Odd
How People Shake to distract older fans while getting new ones and
recording the follow-up, Art Damage.
And what Art Damage it is. The most
amazing thing about this album (besides it's absurdly quick length of barely
half an hour) is that the band itself is on average insanely young. The
group of crazed youths range in age from 19-20 or so, and generally, one
wouldn't expect such explosive assaults from a group of people just leaving
their high schools behind a few years previous.
Opener "Hey Kid, I'm a Computer, Stop all
the Downloading" grinds in with some wailing guitars and a frenetic drum
beat but is sadly a little weak. It's an ok song, with vocals, guitars,
drums, and bass barely mixing to form any cohesive sound, but it lacks
that special something.
"Should Have Stayed in The Shallows" marks
a more direct approach. This excellent anti-bacchalia anthem is a fun little
piece of straight-edge, with lines like "I was the life of the party until
I sombered up" leading the scream along fun. "Consequences David, You'll
Meet your Fate in the Styx" rolls in with some nice bass lines and features
some pretty manic screams and guitar parts that cascade here and there
like a stumbling drunk on Broadway. "Whiskey is Alright in its Place, but
its Place is Hell" is another frantic anti-booze anthem with more brilliant
lyrics. "The Story of Curious Oysters" is more frantic hardcore. "Absolutely
Fabulous and Me" has traded hardcore vocals and spastic bombast galore.
The Long Road to The Middle" starts with
a building drum beat and layered background guitars before exploding like
dynamite. "The State of Texas vs. Fear Before" has some of the most fun
desperate vocals I have ever heard over randomly violent riffs and a constant
pounding drum splash. "Law of Averages" sounds like insanity happening
to music, and "A Tyrant Meets his Maker" takes things down a notch with
a quiet little interlude that is both somber and instrumental, not to mention
impressive. "The God Awful Truth" closes things with an awesome build into
more hardcore for kids with some serious sugar highs.
Spastic, loud, shocking, crazed, and random,
Fear Before gives us barely contained music in quick bursts of genius prose
and surprisingly intricate guitars/bass/drums. For those of us with some
energy to burn, this is a good start for a soundtrack.
The March of Flames - Art Damage
1. Hey Kid, I'm a Computer, Stop All the
2. Should have Stayed in the Shallows
3. Consequences David, you'll meet your
fate in the Styx
4. Whiskey is Alright in its place, but
its place is Hell
5. The Story of the Curious Oysters
6. Absolutely Fabulous and Me
7. The Long Road to The Middle
8. The State of Texas vs. Fear Before
9. Law of Averages
10. A Tyrant Meets his Maker
11. The God Awful Truth
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