Album Review: The Future Again by A Hero A Fake
Posted by RiffRaff
Am I getting old? I don’t think so. Damn, I’m only 32 years young, there’s a whole bunch of years ahead of me. I’ve also always considered myself abundantly open-minded when I listen to new bands and always give them the benefit of doubt and listen without any preconceptions or reservations leaning me toward a style of music that I grew up listening to (namely Iron Maiden, Slayer, Rush, Pink Floyd). I like, edit: love, hearing new music and innovations in the music landscape. And here comes the big ‘but’. BUT, for some reason there is a style of new metal going round that I just can’t seem to wrap my ears around. I really can’t pin it to a genre, but the sound consists of lots of techy riffing and rhythms with screamy/growly harsh vocals and the occasional sugar sweet melodious vocals interjected here and there. Bands like The Devil Wears Prada or Bring Me the Horizon just don’t sit well with me but it seems to be all the rage with the kids these days. I always accounted it to the fact that I was turning into a grumpy old man who always says that his generation (or previous) had it right, which is something I believe the converse to. Well, after being passed a copy of A Hero A Fake‘s newest album, The Future Again, I feel a bit better that I may not becoming the grumpy ol’ coot I thought I was.
While it’s nothing that blew my mind I found The Future Again a pretty solid listen that I found enjoyable. The thing that gets me about this particular scene is just don’t feel the music. I don’t feel the rage in the screaming/growling, I don’t feel the emotion or drive in the guitar playing, I have trouble sensing the groove, rhythm, flow, and beat to get my body into it. That kind of stuff. It just comes off as sterile. This album however was able to touch upon those areas and ultimately get me into the music and start to really ‘feel’ it and start to enjoy it. Notice the word ‘start’.
Song after song I’d find myself getting into the excellent tech metal riffing and driving vocals and starting to lose myself in the clean vocal sections. At times I even divulged a headbang into the occasional breakdown. I was feeling it, grooving to it, digging it, and then, blue balls, the song just kind of ends before any resolution of the established music arrives. Now, I can appreciate ‘short and sweet’ songs, heck, I prefer some of my music that way, especially the breakdown heavy or over the top brutal stuff. It fits for that. But here the band is writing these great riffs, structures, progressions, establishments, etc, and they just end a tune on average at the 3 minute mark, right where I thought they could have brought a song soooo much further and explored the music they set up much deeper. Case in point, 3 of the tracks on the album exceed the 4 minute mark, and with the exception of one of them (“Princess of the Sun”), they feel like full and complete songs with a beginning, middle, and end. Saying this really pains me because I really sense the talent the band has and if they could just find a way to explore their music a bit more they could be a heavy hitter in their scene.
While that irked me, I didn’t feel as if I wasted my time listening to The Future Again. Many parts of the album I found very enjoyable. The drive of “Port Hole” and “I Have a Knife” got my adrenaline running and the guitar work had me nodding in approval with a grin on my face. “The Constant” was a really neat tune with bits of NWOBHM riffing, oldschool hardcore shout-alongs, and some great leads I found reminiscent of BTBAM solo spots. I also got a kick out of the great use of the ‘Meshuggah’ style of percussive playing peppered throughout the record, in particular on the opener “Mechanical Heart”.
These guys got chops and there’s hints of originality that would make them stand out if they were to put some more effort in creating a complete package. At 28 minutes a listen to The Future Again won’t waste much of your time but in the end will leave a burning desire for something more fulfilling. I do have hope that there is something in this style of ‘youngster’ music as these guys proved that there is a ray of hope, but I’m ‘old’, and want a complete meal.