It isn’t often that you come across a band that reflects the roots of the modern post-hardcore scene. A scene that is firmly entrenched in the sound of bands like The Blood Brothers, At The Drive In, Thrice and the two Long Island bands that truly shaped the scene: Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. The Foxery, however, manage to do just that with their cutting-edge brand of post-hardcore. Not only do they reflect the roots of post-hardcore but they also wrap it up into a neat package and tie it up with their own unique flourishes.
The Foxery comes at you from a haze of fuzzy and distorted guitar riffs that eventually morph into the razor sharp guitar riffs of “Broken Vessels”. These are guitar riffs that if left to their own devices could carve your Sunday roast in beautifully thin slices that practically come to pieces on your tongue. Like any good carving knife, the guitar riffs cut you straight to the bone and prepare you for the emotional wave that is The Foxery’s debut album Unless.
Everybody remembers the emotional catharsis of the debut albums of Brand New and Taking Back Sunday right? Those albums were the staple diet of every single fifteen year-old emo kid who was struggling with whole idea of unrequited love and having really shitty friends. Yeah. That’s right Jesse Lacey and Adam Lazzara – we picked up on those subtle hints. Now take that level of angst and put it through a meat grinder and you shall get the level of wretchedness that is present on Unless. If you don’t feel something while listening to this album then there is a very good chance that you’re not human – or possibly a sociopath.
The band quite literally describes the themes of the album as being ones of having an existential crisis. “The central themes on the record are feeling alone and this general sense of questioning; questioning one’s faith, faith in ourselves, and faith in the world. Loosely, the album is this narrative about walking into the depths of hell, trudging through the bullshit for too long and then crawling out on our hands and knees.” This is something that one detects from the nearly every aspect of the album, but the most obvious is probably the lyrics and the fashion in which the lyrics are delivered.
The vocals present on the album range from a deep baritone to screeching and high-pitched screamed vocals that send shivers down your spine. Songs like “Filth II” clearly demonstrate the ease in which the vocals switch from melodic baritone to rasping clean vocals to high-pitched screams as the entire song delves into the darkness of the human soul and the isolation that we often experience. It also sees the band exploring the concept of faith, and actually questioning whether there is an afterlife.
Despite the seemingly dark lyrics and cathartic sound – there is an underlying message of hope present on the album. It is a theme that starts to show itself on the latter part of the album as the sound progresses from a rough sound wallowing in the misery of a thousand orphans to something that is still rough and cathartic yet under-pinned with a feeling of hope. It is the hope that one can emerge from this darkness and move onto brighter and better things.
Debut albums often make or break a band’s career as it quite literally determines if people are going to notice you, or if you’re just going to be regulated to playing in the shadows. Out of all the post-hardcore releases that have graced my ears this year, Unless may be one of my favourites. This is an album that is able to contest with the releases that The Color Morale, Taking Back Sunday and The Amity Affliction have given us.