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01. Absolute Future
02. Drowning The Old Hag
04. Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party
05. Ten Seconds In Los Angeles
06. The Waiting Makes Me Curious
07. High As A Horse
08. Dog Sized Bird
09. Complete And Utter Confusion
10. ...As A Result Of Signals Being Crossed
11. My Deer Hunter
13. A Brief Tutorial In Bachanalia
14. A Gift For Fiction
15. Absolute Past
Reviewed by: Nick
// Published: 2/13/2007
I'm going to be blunt and admit that I had been avoiding this latest release from Fear Before the March of Flames right up until the day it arrived in my mailbox. After Odd How People Shake and Art Damage, I knew that there was absolutely no way that The Always Open Mouth would be even remotely worthy of a listen. Right
Wrong. Although this disc isn't exactly a masterpiece, very few bands have demonstrated such a quick change from generically formulaic to experimental and exploratory as FBTMOF have done in between Art Damage and The Always Open Mouth. Like it or not, the emo-laced metalcore of old has taken a backseat to an entirely new beast on this album. A strong Radiohead influence appears to be the guiding light on many tracks on this disc as clean guitar work, electronics, and a notable keyboard presence allows the band to achieve an entirely different sound. As they are now a six member outfit, FBTMOF clearly benefits from the new manpower to provide a fuller overall sound and push their music into areas previously uncharted by the band.
Although the FBTMOF of the past still peeks its head out on a few tracks, most notably in "A Gift For Fiction," the majority of The Always Open Mouth is filled with slower, dissonant material juxtaposed with cleaner, progressive indie rock melodies. "...As A Result of Signals Being Crossed" is a clear standout track, as it develops from a piano-based intro into a slow and heavy climax with layered singing and screaming. But this track, along with the majority of the album, also displays the main downfall of the disc: the vocals. FBTMOF uses everything from a wide range of singing and screaming to rhythmic chanting and my absolute least favorite, the squeaky childish singing that appears for brief moments in "Mouth." FBTMOF has always suffered from a lack of quality vocals, and unfortunately, that is one of the few past characteristics that they could not shake off before this album. Some vocals are an improvement, such as the singing in the intro of "Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party" and the low Liars-esque singing at moments in "Absolute Past," but as a whole, there are simply too many attempted vocal styles that range from mediocre to flat out annoying to allow this disc to really be an exceptional listen.
Bottom Line: I'm actually glad that I had an opportunity to discover what many music fans already have, and what many more won't admit: Fear Before the March of Flames has developed into a fairly impressive heavy music group. The amount of experimentation exhibited on The Always Open Mouth is quite remarkable, especially when compared to their previous musical output. However, the exploration of all the new musical ideas and styles still can't erase the poor vocals that plague this disc. Nevertheless, the combination of the poor vocals and my preconceived bias weren't enough to stop me from enjoying many aspects of The Always Open Mouth.
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