Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Fair To Midland - Arrows And Anchors (2011)
(alternative rock / progressive metal / avant-garde metal)

People have always carved symbols into the tombstones of the departed - the ones they have cried tears of sorrow for and the ones they wish never to rise from the abyss. In gravestones the arrow symbolizes martyrdom and mortality, which bear strange resemblance to each other. One is defying the inevitable whereas one is the inevitable. Of old, the anchor has been a symbol of hope and eternal life in Christian burial. The sailing ships from this world to the next, the solemn anchor deserted at the gray havens.

After a burial of four years, Fair To Midland rises from the ground, shattering their tombstones into shards of granite.  Reincarnation is not possible when you have never been deceased. Thus, the band defies their mortality and has created a piece of music promising hope and giving an eternal life to the ears of its serendipitous listener. Fables From A Mayfly set the bar high in 2007 but Fair To Midland's latest, Arrows And Anchors, not only leaps over the bar with major ease but has also brought a bar of its own, which is set musical miles above the previous. Not only has the band come to life, they have also brought a different form of life into their music. Life that implodes your speakers.

A tight combination of Fair To Midland's greatest assets is bound to point the arrow into the right direction. Cunningly crafted and well-inserted introductions and interludes, crashing guitar riffs amongst a woodland of densely planted drum comping, Sudderth's vocals of an angel in exile and metaphorically curious lyrics. In addition to this aggregation of sonority, the band has also added catchy choruses. Musical Chairs provides a backbone for the album - it has all of the above. Lyrical pondering of an eternal life and its existence, Sudderth's absorbing vocals and the catchy chorus.

Arrows And Anchors is a lot heavier than their previous album. Joe Barresi's rough handprints can be seen all over but the new product line has also brought a refreshing emphasis on the keyboards of Langley, which is clearly visible in songs such as Uh-Oh and Coppertank Island.

Someone yelled in the wake of the great collapse.

With Amarillo Sleeps Over My Pillow I'm left standing in the black rain with my hands shaking from the cold and my head rattling from the sheer strength from the song. The fresh heaviness becomes real throughout the album and the new sound definitely leaves one astounded. Not only is the album a heavy entity woven intricately together but it also manages to let singular tracks stand out from the masses. This is a respectable difference to the past and and upgrading the brigade of the whole diminishing genre of alternative metal in total.

After being pulverized into amazement by the anthem of Golden Parachutes and getting slammed sideways by the enthrallingly groovy Rikki Tikki Tavi, I'm left standing at the end of the album at the feet of a 11-minute behemoth of Greener Grass. The time spent with this album trickled from my hands as the sand does from an hourglass. The epitaph of Fair To Midland will include both, the arrow and the anchor, and with this album, they are engraved into my mind as well.

.when you saw the falling arrows.

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