Reviewed: December, 2018
Released: 2018, Failure Music
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Being inducted into Decibel magazine’s Hall of Fame is enough to make any band pretty “metal,” no matter what their sonic inclinations. And while resurrected California trio Failure can hardly be considered a metal band, they have long enjoyed considerable affection among metal fans.
This culminated in the 2014 Hall of Fame nod for the band’s third album, 1996’s Fantastic Planet, which brimmed with ringing guitars, beefy rhythms and trippy, space-based themes that belied the typical alt-rock tropes. For a long time, though, it looked like it was going to be the band’s final album, as Failure split up in 1997. But just a few months before the Decibel honor, the band reformed and in 2015 issued the comeback album The Heart Is A Monster that, amazingly, seemed to pretty much pick up where things had left off 18 years earlier.
It was perhaps a bit mellower, but just as sprawling and resounding as Fantastic Planet, and was received well enough to give the band the jump start they needed. So here they are again with the tongue-twisting follow up, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind, which actually is a compilation of four sequential EPs. The series kicked off with the “In The Future” segment in March and wrapped with the “From Your Mind” finale just before Thanksgiving that was issued at the same time as the full-length encompassing them all.
In The Future may be the most ethereal, least hard-rocking of the band’s five albums, but it still packs an undeniable punch. It’s just a bit more subtle and not quite so immediate, with a constant ebb and flow from the quiet and serene to the brash and occasionally bombastic. And despite its four component parts, the album sounds cohesive and complete instead of stitched together, with no wild stylistic divergences, so clearly there was a master plan here.
On the quieter side of the ledger are tracks like the chirpy, electronic-tinged opener “Dark Speed;” the sumptuous, Pink Floyd-like “Pennies” with its lush, delicate harmonies and sparse, mostly acoustic accompaniment; or the breathy trippiness of “Another Post Human Dream” and “What Makes It Easy.” And, of course, the band’s signature “Segues,” eerie instrumentals that began on Fantastic Planet and seem born out of the “Twin Peaks” soundtrack. Especially here.
For the brash, there are the chugging “Paralytic Flow” “Solar Eyes” and “No One Left.” Though not full-blown, fist-pumping anthems, they nevertheless are propelled by buoyant choruses, grinding bass lines and crashing riffs. And while “Heavy And Blind” and the Beatles-sque “The Pineal Electorate” seem building to a crescendo they don’t quite deliver, “Found A Way” and “Distorted Fields” add a ragged edge to their hooks that give them more heft and even a hint of menace as the melodies take a darker turn.
The album does conclude with more of a whimper than a bang, after a rather rousing midsection, which would be my only real complaint here. “Apocalypse Blooms” and “Force Fed Rainbow” don’t quite live up to the ominous promise of their titles – indeed they take quite the opposite approach. And when joined with the aforementioned “Heavy And Blind,” “Another Post Human Dream” and “The Pineal Electorate,” it makes for a rather prolonged lull.
Yet Failure still manage to build considerable tension here, and quite effectively imply heaviness even during the lighter moments. And that’s quite an accomplishment in and of itself.