In Fear And Faith

Imperial

Written by: BL on 28/12/2010 14:48:32

Early last year we witnessed the debut album by In Fear And Faith - "Your World Is On Fire". A solid post-hardcore/metalcore album that coincided with the arrival of a new wave of similar bands all utilising synths and keyboards as a selling point, and while In Fear And Faith were certainly one of the earlier arrivals it soon became difficult to really separate the bands from each other in such a clustered scene. Despite that they got a lot of playtime with me in particular because of all the striking piano parts used courtesy of guitarist Ramin Niroomand (I also knew the band ever since their first lo-fi demo a few years prior). "The Road To Hell..." also quickly became one of my favourite songs in the genre, showing a perfect balance of aggression with gorgeous lighter melodies. A year later, "Imperial" is the new followup and certainly people within the music scene had fairly high expectations of something much more substantial, more innovative than the debut to try and push the genre along.

What we actually get with "Imperial" is for the most part the same bread and butter kind of post-hardcore/metalcore we've been used to hearing. Don't let that detract you from hearing this release altogether though, because chances are is that if you enjoyed "Your World Is On Fire" then "Imperial" should be quite easy to get into. The most notable thing you will hear first about this record compared to the last is that "Imperial" was recorded with and produced by Brian McTernan instead of Andrew Wade (from "Your World Is On Fire"). McTernan is an accomplished producer and has worked with a fair number of well known bands like Emarosa, Senses Fail and Darkest Hour. However that is not to say I am particular fond of his recording sound - the guitars in particular always have a thin and tin-like sound and lack the punch or definition you might expect, and sound underwhelming in the context of the bass being so loud and warm. The drums also sound a little too far back in the crowd, therefore to really appreciate this record I would recommend listening through headphones. The sound setup might suit other softer bands, but with In Fear And Faith the guitars and drums have to be really pronounced to get the full effect the band try and create so to speak.

Songwise, we get a meaty thirteen tracks (technically twelve with one short interlude) with over forty minutes playtime so there's plenty to sink your teeth into here, though initially you might be forgiven for thinking "Imperial" starts a little average save for the vocalists Scott Barnes (the clean vocalist) and Cody Anderson (the screamer). Still, when you arrive at "I Know You Know", it might sound like your standard In Fear And Faith song at first with huge heavy/soft dynamics, but develops into a striking epic number with great use of subtle orchestral and electronic samples with Ramin's great piano parts seeping through behind the melodic guitar work. Scott steals the show here though with some fantastic singing parts throughout - his voice crisper and more defined than before. "Heavy Lies The Crown" by contrast is a beautifully woven piece with Scott again impressing with his singing to a backdrop of purely delicate piano and soothing strings and is a sure standout for wholely different reasons. "Let It Out", "Afterthought" and "The High Life" round off the rest of the record with the band almost at their best, some uplifting and energetic guitars in "Afterthought" and lots of interesting use of more samples and piano in the former and latter songs. Soon enough you start noticing how the increased presence of these electronic and piano parts, and how they're so much more effective than before, shows how the band has moved forward (the other being how much better Scott is singing).

Not all is well however, for if only the heavier sections had similarly shown more improvement from "Your World On Fire" because they do seem a little underwhelming on "Imperial" and mostly fail to provide inspiration, nor does it help that the rather weak mixing hampers the distortion-heavy sections significantly by taking away a lot of the weight of the guitars and drums. However In Fear And Faith do deliver in the melodic department with their synths and piano sections to somewhat make up for it (if I haven't hammered this point home enough already), which is where they have always shone anyway and stopped them from being completely predictable. I therefore encourage fans to check out "Imperial" to make up their own minds, and anyone who appreciates great singing in their post-hardcore and piano to do the same - there's definitely enough to enjoy despite the drawbacks.

7

Download: I Know You Know, Heavy Lies The Crown, The High Life
For the fans of: Blessthefall, Saosin, Chiodos, Here I Come Falling
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 15.06.2010
Rise Records

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