Sound — 9
Fear Before is now officially the new name (and also the eponymous name of this album) of Fear Before The March Of Flames and is quite welcome, due to the name being a mouthful to say (pun intended, if you manage to see it). In all seriousness, the name change is paramount to the change of the bands musical direction. Although they never produced the same album twice, this album is the most drastic change in comparison to their other cds. Which is saying quite a bit, as each of their albums is a distictive leap from one to the other. They still do their post-hardcore riffage with strange, ambient noises found in [b]The Always Open Mouth[/b], but this time around, it's more defined and is all killer, no filler. Every song has it's purpose. I must admit that I didn't like this album at all the very 1st listen I had with it, with the [ironic] exception of "Fear Doesn't Listen To People Who Don't Like Them" (which starts with drawling, effects laden accented chords before really taking off). This all killer, no filler approach makes everything seem bland, but that is not the case by any means. The second listen was much more telling. The nuances are what make this album. Give a listen to "I'm Fine Today" (the 2nd song) and you'll notice little guitar runs hidden in the background of the verse riff. Also, the conclusion of both "Get Your Life Together" and "Jabberwacky" have riffs that give the appearance that they will continue on, but the end abruptly. This motif of hidden and layered nuaces are plentiful throughout this album. I'm still picking up little bits and pieces that I didn't hear in previous listenings. This is an album that you have to let grow on you, which is great in the long run.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics in this album have a cryptic air to them, while avoiding being verbose. It's not complex, but it has a unique quality. The vocal delivery helps as well, which is basically a duel between Adam Fisher and David Marion. This album really fleshes out their vocal capacities, from screaming, Fisher's falsetto, and unusual vocal tics. These vocal tics would be found in avant-pop inspired songs like "Treeman" and "Bad Days" (by avant-pop, I'm refering to acts such as Portugal.The Man and The Dear Hunter). Lyrically, I don't see any themes aside from death and religion. The connection that I draw between the 2 would be existential thoughts, which sounds like a reasonable conclusion, given the lyrics of the songs. Even though the vocabulary of whomever wrote these lyrics isn't all that advanced, it never sounds contrived at any point. The simplicity gives way to an unearthly style that isn't pretenious or stuffy.
Overall Impression — 9
The progression and growth between their albums (as mentioned before) has been exponential. They started out with straight forward post-hardcore (Odd How People Shake), then onto mathcore (Art Damage), moving into the experimental/noise section (The Always Open Mouth) and then finally hitting a paradoxial experimental/accessible era. Of all these, the last two albums struck a chord with me. While the music is unusual, it does eventually get catchy, producing a lasting effect that most infectious music doesn't have. This is an essential buy for fans of FBTMOF (and especially fans of TAOM). If you like progressive/experimental post-hardcore with heavy indie rock leanings, this is an album for you as well. Don't expect anything highly technical or any solos for that matter. In fact, I really feel that the music is plenty strong without the inclusion of solos or spastic techcore bits, and is absolutely unneccesary. Regardless, if would like a great piece of music, you should at least give this album a try.