Technically speaking, Fear Before is the 4th album from the Colorado-based post-hardcore band Fear Before the March of Flames. But, using a name change as an opportunity to also deviate a bit in style, FBTMOF became simply Fear Before.
It’s the last record the band released before going their separate ways into an indefinite hiatus. As a dynamic live band with innovative and experimental recorded material, it was a real shot in 2010 when the group confirmed their split.
It’s unsatisfying, in a way. Just after the release of Fear Before, the band did a bit of touring and then just… stopped. No announcement, no confirmation for almost 18 months. As a fan, it left a bad taste in my mouth the way that they just disappeared.
Perhaps the way they left things (read: a mess) tinges my opinion of this final release, because of their 4 albums, this is not my favorite. Which comes as a surprise, because the band’s progression from spastic, choppy hardcore (Odd How People Shake and Art Damage) into experimental post-hardcore (the incredible The Always Open Mouth and this album), while still retaining elements of mathcore, closely mirrored the way also that my personal tastes evolved over time.
It’s not so much that Fear Before is a poor effort, or that there’s one element that decidedly lacks in comparison to their other releases. There just seems to be a general feeling of “doneness” to this album that their previous albums lacked.
Again, it’s not all bad: opener “Treeman,” the hilariously-named single “Fear Before Doesn’t Listen to People Who Don’t Like Them,” “Get Your Life Together,” and especially “Tycho” all stand up against the rest of their discography.
But the record tails off on its last 3 tracks, turning in a trio of some of the strangest songs. “Bad Days,” “Stay Weird,” and “Review Our Lives (Epic)” all appear, to me at least, to be the product of growing pains. This is the first album where lead vocalist David Marion contributed the majority of lyrics, where before, guitarist David Marion penned them. The shift is narrative is marked by both the lack of “bigger picture” songs (wherein Marion was able to write in metaphors and figurative language), but also the titles.
“Everything’s Not Shitty” is an actual title here. I long for the days of the word, pop culture-heavy song names like “Consequences David, You’ll Meet Your Fate in the Styx” and “The Lisbon Girls, Oh The Lisbon Girls.” It’s disappointing, but that’s what happens over the course of 6 years as band members and human beings. Oh well.
When it’s good, Fear Before is really good. When it’s not, it’s difficult to listen to. Perhaps it is because it relies too heavily on experimentation, rather than doing what they did best: heavy riffs, huge drums, and dueling high-low vocals.
From what may be their final release, this is “Fear Before Doesn’t Listen to People Who Don’t Like Them” –
Standout tracks: “Treeman,” “Fear Before Doesn’t Listen to People Who Don’t Like Them” and “Jabberwocky”
Weakest track: Tempted to put “Review Our Lives (Epic)” here just for the word ‘epic,’ but it’s actually a great, technical song. “I’m Fine Today” and “Bad Days” don’t do anything for me.
RIYL: Experimental post-hardcore, mathcore. Converge, The Blood Brothers, Botch.