Fear Before the March of Flames – Art Damage

I’m glad I got this in the mail because I had sort of written off Fear Before the March of Flames (FBtMoF) as a band that was trying too hard without much success, so I definitely wouldn’t have bought this. My first impression was sometime in 2002 when the act opened for Underoath and, though I admired their energy, I wasn’t too impressed honestly. Since then I’ve happened to see them three or four times and found the band vastly improved. This could partly be because at that time the band had only been together for about five months, it could also be they were youngsters around 19 or 20.

Anyway, the new full-length, Art Damage, sees the band coming into their own with a more distinct sound and a seemingly more comfortable songwriting approach. The sound on Art Damage is somewhere between the likes of Every Time I Die and Converge with a hint of Blood Brothers, for a metalcore/indie hybrid. I really dig a lot of the ideas and structures FBtMoF works with on this new album a lot more than previous material. As a whole, this is WAY more focused than anything else I’ve heard from them.

“Should Have Stayed in the Shallows” is one of the stronger tracks with its varied time signatures and structured chaos. “The Story of the Curious Oysters” has a more pronounced indie feel to it that is semi-Blood Brothers-esque. “The State of Texas vs. Fear Before” has a few rock ‘n roll licks toward the end that bring to mind Every Time I Die. On “Law of Averages,” the band delves into the buzzing harmonics that Norma Jean has mastered, and it does so pretty successfully.

Although Art Damage is way better than I ever expected it to be, it still needs a little work. FBtMoF has progressed from “energetic-but-misdirected” to mediocrity to a band with tons of potential. If these artists harness their energy and work with their potential, Fear Before the March of Flames could do some real damage.