Ophir EP

Written by: AP on 09/02/2014 23:59:58

Why F.O.E.S. insist on using an acronym as their moniker baffles me; it stands for Fall of Every Sparrow, and that is nothing if not a cool band name. That said, the northener quartet's debut EP "Ophir" ticked into our mailbox with all manner of hype and fanfare attached to it, and while that is generally the case whether or not the band is called Prostitute Disfigurement (yes, we did receive a promo from such a group) or Arctic Monkeys, something about the eloquence with which the praise was delivered, not to mention the bands mentioned as influences to F.O.E.S., captured my attention almost instantly.

Formed in January last year, F.O.E.S. are very fresh out of the oven, yet had they not divulged the fact, I would have been none the wiser. Indeed, these Britons sound way past their years, their eclectic style of post-hardcore sounding both classic and futuristic, and bringing to mind bands as diverse as At the Drive in, Cave in, Circa Survive, Deftones, Drive Like Jehu, Smashing Pumpkins and even the Twilight Sad. Not a bad palette of inspirations to have - and the result is expectedly intriguing.

Vocalist Chris Mackrill delivers his singing with a kind of classy indifference nous with dreaminess (and shunning the usual insistence of British vocalists on obscuring his accent, much to my delight) atop crisp and resonant clean melodies courtesy of Joe Danher, that rarely verge on riffs, but still occasionally collapse into charges of mathcore much in the vein of Cave in; whilst the soothing rumble of Josh Catchpole, and the highly organic drumming of James Lorenzo add much needed punch to the low end (though the tempered production on the drums ensures the music never crosses into metal territory).

While lead single "Ningyo" fails to appeal to me by virtue of its unsuccessful attempt at fusing cinematic post-rock with Mackrill's nonchalant singing and the lethargy in his lyrics, resulting in a song rife with contrasts, but lacking any real development; songs like the sprawling "Writing on the Wall" make the mishap easy to ignore, by intertwining the dreamlike prog-musings of Karnivool with the noisy fury of "White Pony"-era Deftones. The concluding duo "Four of Oxeblood" and "The First Rook to Flee as the Thunder Rolls in" only reinforce my positive impression, the former unrolling a slick, devious drum pattern beneath soaring ambient melodies before flaring into an off kelter Dillinger Escape Plan-esque breakdown; the latter electrifying by Mackrill's reflective verse and the unforgettable chorus of "When storms come, they're first to fly. They just run, they're first to hide. When storms come, they'll keep it inside." melting into the esoteric grey of a gently drifting post-rock soundscape and ultimately bursting into a loud, triumphant crescendo.

It isn't difficult to understand why "Ningyo" was then selected as the first single: it's much more immediate and forthcoming in its approach. But that is not where F.O.E.S. excel; this is a band whose best asset is their prowess at unfolding - not compressing - their ideas, thereby giving each musician space to air their talents, and the songs room to breathe and dissolve into your cerebral cortex. Given the band's short existence, "Ophir" is beyond remarkable, but in order to grasp at the cult legendary status of similarly disposed acts like At the Drive in, Cave in and Drive Like Jehu, they need to focus on their strengths and rid themselves of the idea that accessible songs are a must for success.

Download: The Writing on the Wall, Four of Oxeblood, The First Rook to Flee as the Thunder Rolls in
For the fans of: At the Drive in, Cave In, Drive Like Jehu, Karnivool
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.02.2014

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