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Failure The Heart Is A Monster

2015 Failure Records

The heart's still pumping...

Failure - The Heart Is A Monster

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Up until a few short years ago Failure were just another casualty of the music industry. Yet another band torn apart by drugs, label expectations and the usual clichés. But rather than go out on a down note, Failure burned up in the atmosphere. The group’s then unintentional swan song, 1996’s “Fantastic Planet“, did something so few albums do: find life after the bands death. A graceful bow of grungy space rock, it left its mark on everyone from Tool to Paramore.

Much like the rest of this years returning 90’s heroes (Faith No More & Refused,) Failure took the baby steps of reforming for live shows first to feel each other out and test the water. With “The Heart Is A Monster” they dive right into the deep end, surfacing as a haunting unfurling of light and darkness in the human condition. Jangling guitar chords grow forth like the tendrils of an emotional parasite seeking a new host. The resolute bass playing sports rigid tones and assertive grit, while the drumming takes on hypnotic elements of a rhythmic march.

Replete with a handful of segues that tie it to “Fantastic Planet“, the group waste little time lifting off with the careening bass driven groove of “Hot Traveler“. “A.M. Amnesia” follows that initial velocity by setting the listener adrift in a sea of longing as strident notes and an affirming chorus eventually reel them back into safety. Failure have always been a master of dynamics and it shows.

Atom City Queen” takes a stylistic sidestep and could easily be confused as “The Rising Tide“-era Sunny Day Real Estate, if not for the emphatically blunted chorus. The group also tie in their legacy by revisiting some of their earlier orphans, “Petting The Carpet” and “I Can See Houses“—both of which blend in with surprising ease.

Yes, there are some more lackadaisical moments that may warrant a skip from those more appreciative of the meatier elements however. The saccharine piano and slide guitar led “Mulholland Dr.” can feel out of place with its blatant Beatles worship. The symphonic elegance of “Come Crashing” also feels a bit too grounded and its slow-burn build can overstay its welcome.

Where Failure truly validate their legacy and their return is on songs like the overhauled “The Focus“, a vigorous bass-driven rocker aided by subtle effects that sports endearing melodies and an alternating bass and guitar tradeoff toward the end that is nothing short of magnetic. The overcast demeanor and somber atmosphere of “Counterfeit Sky” also leave a lasting impression, slicing through dreary malaise with an instantly memorable chorus and a weighty air of perseverance.

And all that is to say nothing of the various accoutrements that Failure don that make this album such an overwhelming sonic experience. The constant dabbling with effects, the unconventional notes and chord progressions chosen and aural embellishments that create a rich colorful tapestry of sound. It’s completely ear candy that may be lost on the attention-starved iTunes generation, but Failure brought out all their old tools and tricks for this monster of a return.

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