10th July 2015 – Crooked Noise Records
01. Rival Thrones
02. Crown Antler
03. El Penumbra
04. This Kingdom Is Come
05. No Sleepers Verse
As a rule, album titles – particularly in rock and metal – are chosen to sound cool, but in my favourite instances, bands choose the moniker for a very specific reason. Sometimes they’re ironic. Sometimes they’re an in-joke. ‘Antecedence’ is the act of going before; having priority. The title of F·O·E·S‘ new EP, it’s more prophetic than anything, as you really should be making Antecedence a primary concern to listen to.
Whilst not unique to F·O·E·S, frontman Chris Mackrill has been insistent about the Liverpudlian quartet’s music having purpose and meaning: if music doesn’t, it apparently winds him up. As a fan of emotionally-charged art, this sits particularly well with me, but the band back it up on all fronts.
Painting from a solid, refined sonic palette, F·O·E·S display with startling precision just how much can be done with a strongly-defined sound. “Rival Thrones” is tight, anthemic, and incredibly satisfying, but it stands in stark contrast to “El Penumbra” and “No Sleepers Voice“, which are delicate and tender by comparison. Mackrill’s vocals are at the forefront due to their laudable consistency, but it’s the nuance of the instruments that really brings the package together. Unique touches give each song its own character – the drum rim-clacks that carry the opening of “No Sleepers Verse“; the winding bass of “El Penumbra” – meaning the release as a whole has merit, rather than being a vehicle to carry one or two good tracks, padded out with filler.
With a name like Fall Of Every Sparrow – as F·O·E·S used to be called – it’s hardly surprising to find their songs brimming with all the hallmarks of post-rock – but just as their name has been shortened and focussed, so has their music: dreamy, delay-peppered guitars are well-utilised, always driving into satisfying riffs rather than meandering around on the same section for three minutes. This is first and foremost rock, and it’s a testament to F·O·E·S’ songwriting nous that they can combine the correct elements in such a rewarding fashion.
Lyrically, there’s a great balance between memorability – necessary to encourage sing-alongs – and emotional resonance. Toxic relationships, existential conundrums, and processing ill health offer catharsis on various levels, and are presented with poetic penmanship.
Bittersweet in its brevity, Antecedence is a beautiful piece of poignant craftmanship. Worthy from rousing intro to affecting end, this EP is a must for those craving a little more economy from their post-rock, and a little more abstraction in their rock.