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Killer 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. 
 
 


CD Info 

Fear Before The March of Flames -  Art Damage
Label: Equal Vision
Rating
 
Tracks:
1. Hey Kid, I'm a Computer, Stop All the Downloading
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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