Album Review: Flies Are Spies From Hell - 'Underdog Underfoot'.

It seems that bands who dare employ an instrument outside of the typical drums-bass-guitar formula often find such a characteristic becoming their calling card. See for example: that pop-punk band with a violin; that metal band who use bagpipes; and that rock band who used a didgeridoo (a handful of times at best). Whilst Flies Are Spies From Hell are by no means the only band, or post rock/instrumental band for that matter, to deploy the mighty piano, this element certainly forms a key part of their textured and progressive sound.

Released in April 2015 (so making this a fashionably late review), 'Underdog Underfoot' is the most recent offering from an act that recently celebrated its second decade. The glumly-titled ‘Imagine Your Murder’ kicks things off nicely and sets the tone for what’s to follow, with crescendos of guitar interplaying with elaborate piano melodies. Built on a solid rhythm section, the grooves provided by the track’s ending add a welcome flourish. ‘Slow Heat Death’ follows in much the same pattern, although some quirky guitar lines provide a nice contrast to the heavier aspects of the track. The piano is brought to the fore, showcasing FASFH’s skills in meshing this instrument into their armoury of riffs.

‘Fail Better’ again encapsulates a neat piano-led groove, either side of some more ambient passages, while ‘Last Dust Settled’ is a simple little piano piece that splits the album nicely. While ‘Hammer Without Hand’ adds a little more variation with splashes of organ, the eight-minute ‘Beg For Sleep’ is the obvious album highlight. All cascades and building noise, interspersed with longer passages in which guitar and piano melodies weave in and out, it’s a great composition. The lovely ‘Cocoon’ follows, which in turn provides the perfect, striped-bare, post-rock comedown. The album’s title track is a confident and bombastic ending, as well as providing one of the heavier moments of the album.

Overall, the album perhaps works best as a whole, which is by no means a bad thing. It’s an assured and carefully crafted release, adding it’s own personality to a crowded genre. Here’s to the next ten years...

Album review by DS_Convertible

'Underdog Underfoot' is available for purchase via bandcamp.

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