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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2006
Every once in a great while, a record comes out that is sure to redefine an entire genre - something that is so pure, so new, so revolutionary, that it reminds us what it truly means to challenge the status quo and be "alternative." Well my friends, the record I'm talking about is "The Always Open Mouth," by FEAR BEFORE THE MARCH OF FLAMES! This record is heavy, yet thoughtful - powerful, yet restrained. As one reviewer said, it "explores the gears, rather than flying full speed ahead." As a band matures and grows out of it's proverbial shell, it becomes necessary to change in order to set the standard. And for all those musical snobs out there (you know who you are), you might actually want to TRY accepting new music. Even if it sounds weird at first, that's part of what makes art ART. Expand your musical horizons, folks!

Anyway, bottom line is, if you give this record a few spins, you're sure to find THE ALWAYS OPEN MOUTH easily one of (if not THE) best record of the year, and not only that, but a record that stands alone as a career-defining masterpiece. In time, this record may become as important to me as Radiohead's "OK Computer," Poison The Well's "You Come Before You," or Pearl Jam's "No Code." This is essentially Fear Before's "A City By The Light Divided," or "Vheissu," or "Redeemer." Anyone noticing a pattern here? All these bands that have helped define a genre and a period of music are all branching out. Why are they all doing this? Because they're artistic and intelligent enough to recognize when a genre has become stagnant and needs electroshock therapy! Again, I urge everyone who is not only a fan of hardcore or punk rock, but ART in general, to pick up this masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2006
One thing which can be said about Fear Before The March of Flames (besides having an unbelievably cool name) is that three albums into their career, they've never made the same record twice. They've also always seemingly been ahead of their time. 2003's "Odd How People Shake" was an engaging mix of hardcore and indie, which to this day still shines as bright as the first time I heard it. It was something that not many other groups had touched upon at the time, having such energy, and yet a concept of atmosphere and attention to detail. In early 2004 FBTMOF released "Art Damage," an extremely chaotic and heavy record and something which took their sound in the area of artful noise shortly before most music become utterly fascinated with pushing their extremity to the brimming point. And now with 2006's "The Always Open Mouth," Fear Before have taken another huge step in the evolution of their sound. Adding three new members, a healthy dose of new influences and a new found interest in writing music, FBTMOF have made a brash, daring and experimental piece which is likely to be one of the oddest things you hear all year. Yet there's something undeniably charming about it.

While there still may be some standard hardcore/screamo fare in tracks like "Drowning The Old Hag" and "A Gift For Fiction," "The Always Open Mouth" is largely a giant departure from Fear Before of old. Now on some levels I'm disappointed since I really loved "Odd How People Shake" and "Art Damage," but on the other hand it's exciting and invigorating to see the band attempting these new feats. I'm not even sure how to describe the direction of this record. It's really all over the place. There's heavy moments, electronic portions, atmospheric bits, melodic hooks, and more often than not all these things might be found in the same song. "Taking Cassandra To The End Of The World Party" and "Ten Seconds In Los Angeles" just might be two of the best tracks with their experimental doses of electronics, downtuned guitars and driving rhythms. Not to mention the interesting take in the vocal department. I love how they went back to the trade off vocal style again, something which made "Odd How People Shake" so good. "Dog Sized Bird" seeps of NIN's influence with its sludgy rhythms and electronics, yet its clever lyrics and vocal distortion make the track strangely appealling. The more subdued tracks like "...As A Result Of Signals Being Crossed" and "My Deer Hunter" show exceptional experimentation, combining magnificent guitar playing, excellent effects and a nice mix of differing vocal styles, things which many bands would be unable to pull off in just one song. There just so much variety found on this disc that it's hard to find something which doesn't appeal. Now sure it helps to have an odd taste in music to begin with (which you have probably already aquired if you are a FBTMOF's fan), but it might not even be necessary once the album is listened to. There's just such a vast range of sound.

If you're depressed that Fear Before The March Of Flames Has tried something new with "The Always Open Mouth," don't be. This record is really a unique and exceptional stepping stone in their sound. I can always appreciate a band which is willing to throw caution to the wind and dare to make a album which will probably stand out like a sore thumb in fan's cd collections. One listen might not be enough to get you fully addicted to the album (it wasn't for me), but the more you listen, the more you discover, and in turn the more you will appreciate what is going on here. It's funny that this band always seems to be about a year or two ahead of what everyone else is doing in the music scene. Does this mean a year or two from now all the bands will be trying to sound like this? Probably not, but we'll have to wait and see. Until then I will continue to enjoy this oddly addicting record called "The Always Open Mouth," and you should too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2006
Pardon my writing skills. This is the first album I've felt compelled to review. But that alone should say something about this album.

Let's face it, inspiration isn't easy to find these days. Every album is a copy of a copy. Your favorite band releases a CD that they swear is "much more evolved" than their last album, but it always ends up relatively the same.

Fear Before the March of Flames has certainly took the word "evolving" to new levels. The Always Open Mouth isn't merely evolved, it is evolving. With every listen you will find more and more to love about it. You most likely will not be able to grasp it on first listen, meaning it plays much better a hundred times than it does once. That isn't to say that it's a technical album (i.e. Dillinger, BTBAM), but it is very, very deep. It doesn't rely on odd time signatures and insane guitar riffs. Yet it remains one of the most complex ablums I've ever heard, with absolutely nothing to compare it to. It is an album that will surely stand the test of time, and will be very difficult to wear out.

But nothing I say is going to do The Always Open Mouth justice. You simply have to hear it, from start to finish, multiple times. If you give it time (and not much, trust me) it will grow on you. Anyone can like this CD. Everyone should. It feels largely significant at this particular point in our time. And if you haven't heard it, you won't even know what I'm trying to say with that statement.

This album lets me feel the world, the human condition at this moment. It is an alarm that people simply have to hear. Not that it will likely change anything, but an album like this gives me hope. Or at least it gives me the reassurance that not ALL the world is mindless zombies.

If you're an imaginitive person looking for something to support your knowledge that something is indeed wrong with our world, or if you are just a fan of brand new breakthrough amazing freaking albums, buy this right now, regardless of how much you think you like or dislike this band. If you're a hardcore kid who is looking for the next breakdown, don't even waste your time. You won't be practicing dance moves to this one.

Bottom line: This album is not to be taken lightly. Do not make the mistake of thinking it is a stupid album upon first listen. Give it time and it will give you inspiration that you just aren't going to find on the latest Norma Jean CD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2006
"The Always Open Mouth is an album that will restore faith in alternative music. It will make people remember that music was not meant to be a mass of copycat bands, but it was meant to push boundaries and reinvent itself."

This quote is under the product escription and I couldn't have said it any better.This cd is FBtMoF best most experimental album yet and it sure does not dissapoint. I've been a fan of them since their 4 song ep and their sound has changed drastically. For people who want to label this music as something they are going to be dissapointed becuase it is impossible to put this in one genre. Also people who are looking for another art damage will be upset also. This cd has such a vast range of sound from heavy, to electronic, to industrial, and so on.

I'm not going to waste everyones time nethe 'scene' and want something new, inspiring, and revolutionary this album is the one you should get. Also check out their older stuff for it is amazing also.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2006
Here's a good one:

Q: How do you please all the people all the time?

A: Release an album like "The Always Open Mouth."

Rimshot, please.

Describing something as unexpected as "The Always Open Mouth" is a bit like describing the taste of the color purple. Whether or not this record will become a classic-- or even an underground classic-- is up for debate, but it's quite a Shiatsu brain massage to listen to, in any case. Comparisons to albums like "Nevermind" (huh?) and "The Shape of Punk to Come" (easier to see) seem unwarranted. Really, though, it all smells like teen spirit: this record is the sound of alienation. Such complexity makes for a sound that many will appropriately feel lost in-- perhaps mired in-- upon first listen. Where previous records from this band bordered on tunelessness, or fit too snugly into an already crowded mold, "The Always Open Mouth" is a piece of art that takes more than a few spins to wrap one's battered gray matter around.

A rustling sound collage ("Absolute Future") opens the record with echoing street sounds and a simply-strummed ACOUSTIC guitar figure, which should tip off all but the witless that there was something different in the water for these guys this time around. "Future" segues into the Tourette's-aggravating "Drowning The Old Hag," perhaps the closest thing to the band's older work here. Layered instrumentation lends "Hag" a previously-unknown sonic density, and well-executed prog influence ensures the track stays interesting. Then "Mouth" explodes into eardrums like nihilistic, angry shoegaze. This fire-and-forget cycle continues at a maddening pace for twelve more tracks. The dichotomy is jarring, yet somehow digs its hooks in deep.

And they're really fishing with this one. If the pond wasn't such an abysmal scumhole, more fish would probably bite, too; this record is an everything but the kitchen sink experiment: loud, technical metal riffage backlit by electronica/DJ noise, grime/hip-hop beats married to mewithoutYou monotone drawl-singing ("High as a Horse"), confusing noise collages of sirens and synth-bass ("Dog Sized Bird"), vocoder'd dancehall trips hopping headlong into unexpected cascades of metal ("My Deer Hunter"). Apply some spookiness through tasteful use of dissonance ("Lycanthropy") here and there, and shortly thereafter your head blows a fuse trying to parse the information. What it doesn't sound like is "Art Damage" (Fear Before's apoplectic 2004 LP) which is what will probably drive away most post-loyal hardcore scene kids. Where Fear Before the March of Flames' previous sound was "heavy," they are now "dense" and "thick." The evolution displayed is ripe for "White Pony" comparisons.

"The Always Open Mouth" is a big, barbed mess of unconventional hooks. Some work. Some don't. It may not qualify for album of the year simply because it's hard enough to swallow, but it is certainly one of the most adventurous records released in 2006, and for that, consumer culture has an extremely potent antidote: general indifference.

What a crime.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2006
i'm going to keep this short.

it's been said, nothing any of us say can do this album justice. just give it a shot. the road this band is taking is the best thing they could do.

don't lump this album into screamo / metalcore because it just isn't.

it is however, brilliant. take some time and fall in love with it.

it's minimalist and complex at the same time.

a virtual masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2007
I've loved this band for long time, I've loved their past two albums, and I've seen them live many times, and they never dissapoint.

to be honest, I wasn't surprised in the least bit that this album sounds nothing like their previous ones...and that's a good thing. when this album fist came out, I was pretty bummed to read a lot of negative reviews saying how it sucks and its nothing like art damage, but then again, I kinda figured that the people saying that were your typical, narrow minded scene kids that don't want to hear change and progression and just want the same old-same old to mosh to. don't get me wrong...if you're just not into it...then I understand, but if you wanna my opinion, probably the most original and unique bands out right now in the hardcore/metal-core/whatever you call it genre, then this album is for you.

what can I say that hasn't already been said about this masterpiece? I bought it the day it came out and to this day, I still listen to it heavily and find new things I like about it.

it still has a heaviness in certain songs, mixed with more singing then screaming, great lyrics. I can you go wrong with the song Lycanthropy about turning into a werewolf?

my favorite tracks are probably, Mouth, Drowning the old hag, and Lycanthropy.

seriously...get this, throw on some headphones, take a long walk and rock this s**t and discover the magic that is The Always Open Mouth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2007
I'll be the first to admit I was never really the biggest fan of this band, or the style of music they played. I was somewhat familiar with their older records, particularly Art Damage, through friends of mine, and the band just never really struck me as anything spectacular. That said, I don't really know what it was that compelled me to check this record out, but I can sincerely say that this is one of my favorite albums of all time.

It took me several listens to grasp what it was this album was trying to say, and I still haven't gotten all the way there yet. A good deal of the songs are simply too weird to fully appreciate the first few times you listen to them. Most of the songs flow seamlessly into one another, creating a true album, instead of a collection of songs thrown together on a disc. One of the highlights of the disc, surprisingly,is the vocals.

Thankfully, most of the throatful-of-boiling-acid vocals have been dropped in favor of a much more listenable, sometimes even melodic, but no less aggressive vocal style. The lyrics are also very intelligent, overflowing with genuine emotion and frustration instead of blind anger or cliches. The music is still primarily based in the band's metal/hardcore roots, but the band reaches for textured, spacey, minimalist riffs rather than the screeching dissonance and busy punk of past releases. Traces of electronica, post-rock, industrial, even hip-hop show up without seeming tacked on or out of place, making a genuinely surprising record to listen to.

I'm really at a loss of what to say. In a perfect world, every rock fan hungry for creative, exciting new music would be flocking to this album. But obviously, we don't live in a perfect world, and this album will be shamefully overlooked. Please don't pass this record by because you assume it to be just another screamo record by some band with a long name. "The Always Open Mouth" is a startling achievement, and Fear Before The March Of Flames has become my #1 band to watch. My only complaint is that they didn't record this album sooner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
this cd is just one of those cd's you just can not put down. It has everything good with some effects. I advise anyone interested in this type of music to pick either this or another one of Fear Before the March of Flames' albums up, its well worth the price
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on November 7, 2013
In a move not entirely dissimilar to the one that Deftones made on their watershed 2000 release, "White Pony," Aurora, Colorado's Fear Before The March Of Flames chose to follow-up their high-intensity and vitriol second album (2004's "Art Damage") with a stunningly progressive, mellow, and melodic effort in "Always Open Mouth."

This 2006 release does occasionally venture back into the grindcore-leaning territory of old, but only occasionally. For the most part, this is a highly adventurous, inventive, and original piece of progressive-metalcore/post-hardcore. Throughout its whole playing time, the band is found ingeniously balancing harmony and dissonance, metal and melody, beauty and brutality. And even though it is not flawless, as it is a slightly uneven affair, the end result is very successful, overall.

"Always Open Mouth" opens with the heavenly acoustic strums and warm crooning of "Absolute Future," a dreamy and docile ballad that sounds akin to Opeth. But this flows right into the almost startlingly heavy and very blistering "Drowning The Old Hag," which finds gobs of mean, pounding, downtuned riffs, pounding drums, and heavy, dirty-sounding bass lines smashing through the mix. And David Marion's anguished and visceral vocals only add to the number's already very high levels of dissonance.

But most of the record is a much different story. Tracks three and six, "Mouth" and "The Waiting Makes Me Curious," for example, are two especially adventurous inclusions. Both include a nearly throw-away-worthy intro with techno-industrial-meets-hip-hop beats and nu-metal leaning vocals. But these intros are soon atoned for when the songs drop in an excellent crescendo, with hefty, lumbering, Black Sabbath-esque riffs, memorable, emo-tinged backing vocals, and strong, humming bass lines. As such, "Mouth" and "Waiting..." are both amazing displays of diversity, and showcase the band's newfound knack for combating harmony with equal levels of dissonance. And a cool piano solo in the latter song helps to even further expand the dynamic arrangements.

Elsewhere, cuts like the near-ballad "Taking Cassandra..." evoke The Dillinger Escape Plan's "Miss Machine" and/or "Ire Works" era, with a trippy, minor-key guitar melody and impressively sweet, falsetto clean singing. "Ten Seconds In Los Angeles," then, also retains that strong industrial music feel (thanks to its usage of Nine Inch Nails-sounding keyboard and drum lines), and augment it with dynamic vocal stylings. Here, some high-pitched clean singing directly contrast Marion's brutal, roaring vocals, and do so to excellent effect. And "Dog Sized Bird" follows similar fashion, as it is an interlude-esque track, but in no way does that mean it is skippable. Its NIN-flavored keyboards and drum fills make it very much a worthy listen.

Moving along, the harmony/discord, melody/brutality battle is also in full swing on the succeeding "High As A Horse," which utilizes both edgy, throaty screaming and psychedelic crooning. And this same push/pull effect is also used on "Complete And Utter Confusion," a piece that offsets beeping keyboards with heavy, lurching guitars and inspired, throat-tearing hardcore screams. And "...As A Result Of Signals Being Crossed" is another huge standout. The first two minutes or so of it are really melodic, restrained, and atmospheric, with ominous keyboard lines constantly looming in the background; but after that, the tune becomes a lot heavier, dropping in some impressive slamming drum chops (i.e. deft drum fills) throughout the remainder of its four-minute-long playing time.

It is all about the vocals on "My Deer Hunter," which features impressive clean singing (including a memorably harmonious backing vocal line from Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green). But the next song after that, "Lycanthropy," is a heavy and driving piece that mostly evolves around exceptional, interestingly funky, and almost -- dare I say it?! -- catchy bass lines. And "A Brief Tutorial In Bachanalia" is another brutal and propulsive affair, this one filled with visceral, atonal, and unnervingly dissonant, near-grindcore-worthy vocals.

And "A Gift For Fiction" continues this intense mindset, as it is a not-quite-two-minute long blast that verges on the band's old-school grindcore-esque sound, what with its raw vocals and intense, surging riffs. The drumming is also of particular note, here, as skinsman Brandon Proff contributes some pounding, slamming, cascading drum beats, good cymbal rides, and excellent, fluid fills to the mix. But the album then, unfortunately, concludes on a not-so-high note with "Absolute Past" being a largely boring and almost completely unremarkable set-closer.

Nevertheless, this is still a good album that is as rewarding as it is unpredictable, and as richly-textured as it is viscerally satisfying. Therefore, listeners who are interested in taking a highly experimental and innovative adventure that falls somewhere between Ministry, Deftones, Poison The Well, Burst, Dillinger, Cave In, and Tool should be positively fascinated with "Always Open Mouth."
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