Fin Fang Foom – With the Gift Comes the Curse

Fin Fang Foom
With the Gift Comes the Curse

On their latest release, the ominously titled With the Gift Comes the Curse, Chapel Hill’s Fin Fang Foom takes an appropriately ominous approach. Much more moody than their previous efforts, the band’s second full-length album is filled with dirge-like rock tunes, centered around the use of piano but mixing in thick, loud guitars, bass, and drums.
The first time I heard Engine Down’s album To Bury Within the Sound, I was left with the same feeling I get from With the Gift Comes the Curse. As with Engine Down, FFF uses pianos on each song, blending the instrument’s soft tone with the band’s aggressive guitar-driven approach. Thick, often layered riffs from guitarist Michael Triplett blend around the piano, creating a contrast in tone that adds to the very dark, temperamental, almost volatile feel of this band’s sound. Add to that Edwin Sanchez’s unique voice, which isn’t especially tuneful but somehow works with his dark and deep tone, and you get a band that’s clearly developed their own sound.
“The Jetties” sets the stage perfectly for the release, blending layers of guitars – at times wailing, at times low and thick – around the consistently soft but dark piano, and Sanchez’s voice goes from soft to screaming. It’s in these louder, more aggressive numbers that Fin Fang Foom really shines; see the aggressive build-up and delivery of “Cruel and Unusual” for a prime example. “Yesterday Doesn’t Exist” is just a frenzied blast of rock, intense and aggressive from the get-go, and here keyboards instead of piano provide a more moody subtlety. Vocals don’t even kick in until almost four minutes in, but you hardly notice their absence. Sanchez’s voice is barely restrained, as the building “Plastic Fangs” blurs the line between post-hardcore and moody indie rock.
Some of the band’s songs feel almost lush and put more focus on the piano. “In Harm’s Way,” for example, is almost pretty, and without the thicker guitars on top, it’s clear how talented drummer Michael Glass is. The song’s build-up at its end reminds me of Juno. On the five-minute instrumental “Lifted,” the piano takes on a glorious, shimmering feel, contrasted again by thick and powerful guitar layering. The band even gets a bit experimental, really allowing their musical abilities to shine on tracks like “Instruments of Fear” and “How to Make a Monster,” which both at times almost resemble a noisy free-jazz work.
It’s odd, but the bands Fin Fang Foom sounds most alike are Lovitt Records bands: Engine Down, Bats and Mice. It’s an approach these other bands have tried but not taken to the extreme that FFF takes it. It works for this three-piece, as their songs are lush and dark, oppressive and aggressive, yet strangely beautiful and engaging. It’s a very dark album that somehow manages to remain accessible. And clearly, on their second album, Fin Fang Foom have found their sound.