FOE - Arm Yourself With Clairvoyance

FOE - Arm Yourself With Clairvoyance

7 songs
32:24 minutes
***** ***
House Of Stairs


Instrumental music used to be either guitar solo albums or sprawling post rock epics - and of course I am oversimplifying here. Where the former aimed too much at melody, the latter headed for atmosphere alone. Until it was time for some bands to redefine instrumental music, in a way somewhere between the two aforementioned extremes, but also far above the limitations of these genres.

FOE is a young three-piece from London, and their music combines the weirdness of math core with the power of old school prog metal. Instead of getting lost in rhythmic intricacies, FOE act like a true band where every instrument is featured with the same emphasis. The guitar mostly plays the role of the melodic leader, although at times it counteracts with the bass guitar, which makes it a pleasure to listen to the these two instruments playing their complicated parts that seem to get apart just to meet again unexpectedly. The drums backdrop the whole sonic tapestry with jazzy yet powerful beats. Where some bands lose steam due to exaggerated jazziness (Gordian Knot, Ohm), FOE survive due to their very powerful instrumentation: especially the bass guitar adds crunchy texture to the overall impression.

The songwriting itself shows that FOE don't want to be put into any category: they master the long running structures, as found in Ted Parsons (And How To Live It) and Pick On God For A Good Laugh, but also excel at short energy outburst like Tialys and Salmakia and It's Been A Hard Year For Mr David Cyberman. Do these titles make sense? Of course probably not really, but it proves a sense of humour, and anyway bands are free to call instrumental songs whatever they want.

Apart from the rather short playing time, one may criticize a certain lack of variety. Of course technically this album is absolutely perfect, and it even invites to some serious headbanging, as the virtuosity never dilutes the power playing. Apart from Dysrhythmia's debut on Relapse Records and the Behold the Arctopus antics, I can't think right now of any band playing instrumental math metal at such an intense level.

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