Released: 2008, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
On the heels of 2007’s VULCANUS and 2005’s HELL SWEET HELL, Germany’s Fear My Thoughts was fast becoming one of my favorite bands. Big, clear production and heavy-hitting songs were a winning combination to these ears and both albums still get regular spins. Soon after VULCANUS’ release, though, vocalist Mathias Ockl announced his departure from the band and, naturally, a bit of a shift in sound was to be expected. What was unexpected, though, is the stylistic tangent Fear My Thoughts has taken with ISOLATION, its first release with Martin Fischer at the helm. Gone are the dynamic vocals, hefty guitars and rich, layered production. In their place, Fischer adopts clean vocals almost throughout the whole album and the band has gone from a melodic death metal powerhouse to a modern rock sound that has more in line with Sevendust and Disturbed than Soilwork and Mercenary. In fact, ISOLATION sounds very similar to the last Mnemic record, where a new vocalist dramatically shifted the band in a direction that was off course and unwelcome. The album’s title may prove to be prophetic because, too, there is going to be a major contingent of Fear My Thoughts’ fanbase who are going to feel isolated and totally confused over this dramatic change.
It takes absolutely no time for things to feel wrong as “The Blind Walk Over The Edge,” with its subtle riff and Mike Patton-meets-Incubus modern rock vocal, send things into a hopeless tailspin. One prays this is merely a bad start but “Numbered By The Beast,” “Bound and Weakened” and “Death Chamber” are deplorable stabs at modern rock/metal. Downtuned, chugging guitars and a vocal tone that borders that of Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon and Disturbed’s David Draiman (you can’t help but expect those annoying simian grunts to be coming) will leave any Fear My Thoughts fan wondering what the hell happened to this band as Fischer actually begins RAPPING during the first minute of “Death Chamber.” It isn’t until “Pitch Black,” the eighth track on ISOLATION that Fear My Thoughts shows some semblance of what fans will be looking for. Heavy, aggressive and bordering on thrash, the song is devoid of the forced nonsense that plagues the previous seven tracks and a glimmer of hope begins to emerge. Even “Creeping Lord” bounces along on a strong groove at first but quickly devolves into another cleanly-sung mess midway through. “Dumb, Deaf and Blinded” bears a striking resemblance to Metallica’s latest output, both vocally and in tempo and is a last-minute bright spot, unfortunately, it is simply too little too late.
ISOLATION finds Fear My Thoughts officially “jumping the shark.” Granted, bands do mature and bring new elements into their music (In Flames, Metallica) and are forced to weather the consternation of its loyal fanbase but Fear My Thoughts has done more than “evolve.” “Evolving” is what they did from the metalcore-influenced THE GREAT COLLAPSE to the infinitely better HELL SWEET HELL. The songs were better, the vocals and instrumentation were better, the production was better…everything was just better. Likewise, VULCANUS was a nitrous-blasted version of HELL SWEET HELL. ISOLATION, however, is a blatant, directionless misstep that does nothing for the band or its fans. Hit up iTunes and download “Pitch Black.” The rest of this album is disappointing and probably the biggest letdown of the year.
KILLER KUTS: “Pitch Black,” “Dumb, Deaf and Blinded”