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Monday, March 9, 2009

Flesh Eating Foundation - Purging

Artist: Flesh Eating Foundation
Album: Purging
Year: 2009
Label: REBco Records
Genre: Industrial Punk / Aggressive Electronica / Digital Hardcore
Website: http://www.flesheatingfoundation.co.uk/

There are good things about this band. First off, I really wish I was reviewing a show of theirs, rather than their record. Their record tells me that this band might really be onto something in terms of crossing over punk and industrial, and injecting a healthy shot of energy back into a scene that's been completely deflated by the tedium of watching people standing around behind laptops for the past decade. This is all very exciting. Comparisons to Atari Teenage Riot immediately come to mind, and have been duly noted elsewhere...

There are also however some bad things. Some may be unforgivable, such as this picture. Others, like using a Martin Atkins song title for a prior album, may have been a more innocent mistake. But that one in particular makes me cringe for the temporal comparisons it brings to mind. Perhaps my problem is that I'm totally over fake blood, and seeing "weird" people wearing ties and dress shirts in electronic music bands. If you're really into that you should probably just stop reading right here... According to FEF's website they have been making music together since 1999, but looking like this just comes off as totally sophomoric and juvenile. There might be enough young people around today who haven't been putting up with this sort of thing for as long and who can still be impressed by it... but it really really bothers me. I think Martin Atkins would be rolling over in his grave right now if he knew his legacy had been taken over by "blood and tie" electronica... but he's not dead yet... so I guess we'll find out later.

Disparaging words... but I don't think we should write off this band just yet. What they are doing in crossing over punk and industrial is difficult, because it means that a lot of the people in each scene that they try and attract to their shows are going to have problems with it... But as one of the 5-10 guys who has been asked to stop moshing or leave at Front Line Assembly and Alter Der Ruine concerts, I feel such crossovers really need to happen more often. At the same time, I think some of the aesthetic/conceptual elements this band is trying to put together don't quite work. For example, if they are ranting against society's "lies" and "war", and religion... but they look like this, I just can't take what they are trying to say that seriously...

Packaging: ?/10

Not sure... This is an electronic promo copy. But their press info looks nice. Except for the random picture with a white background of something bloody which looks like it might have been part of something alive at one point. C'mon... I feel like I'm looking at a copy of "Shaun of the Dead." Not scary... Needs new graphics.

Composition: 7/10

At first listen I feel this band might be cool to see live and mosh too, but I'm less likely to just have it on playing randomly during the day. Then again, some of the latter songs, "Septic" and "You Make Me Suffer" show a lot more compositional creativity than the earlier tracks, and I think if they spent less time listening to ATR, and more time just exploring around for themselves, the next few albums might stay a lot more interesting on repeated plays.

As alluded to above, this is a somewhat confused mish-mash of a concept for a band. At a time that industrial music itself is completely confused, in a bit of a rut, and unsure of its future, it is entirely appropriate that something like this would happen. The same could be said of punk... whose sound, while charming, has compositionally evolved precious little over a thirty year time span. Let's hope FEF and other bands like them continue to be brave enough to help us find a way out.

I fear many fans of electronic music will be turned off by the prevalence of guitar. Electronic sounds are interesting, and the balance between them and guitar is fairly even, with both instruments well represented. Synths definitely feel like an intrinsic part of the song, not just something lazily pasted onto an already finished punk song, and guitar isn't drowning everything out a la latter day Ministry cum Metal. Lyrics/ Vocals are good in the way that old The Casualties lyrics and vocals made you want to sing along and dance around, but like The Casualties I have to be in the right mood to want to listen to something like that myself more than once. On the positive side FEF gets mad props for getting us away from the pitch shifter/ distortion that Terror EBM has been completely addicted to. It's rather refreshing to hear a band whose singer can *actually sing*- and furthermore- isn't afraid to!

Production: 6.5 / 10

Generally ok... the first song sounds a little top heavy with non-existent/ drowned out bass... but this is again more punk than club electro so that might not be to big of a problem. Other than that mixing sounds pretty good throughout.

Artistic Merit: 6/10

They'd get a 7-8 if they didn't wear ties, dress shirts, and fake blood. Looks aside, these people are trying to make some kind of agit-prop electro-punk for the 21st century. What's not to like about that?

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

A for Effort. Let's see where they are in a few years.

************************* Note: After a little back and forth, I got the following comments out of Jon of FEF. They shed valuable light on this story and do help make this review a little better balanced/ contextualized:

"...I guess there are a number of factors for the 'image'. Firstly it was boredom with being expected to look the same as every other 'cyber' or 'industrial' band out there, it seemed like a bit of a uniform so we veered away from that. Then we have our shared love of the horror genre, especially films with excessive gore and blood. We use fake blood because we think it is great fun, we enjoy it tremendously and we need no other excuse than that ;-) The white shirts help to make the blood look more visceral on stage. If that looks a little eighties, we don't mind that either, we are 80's kids after all, a nod to the past and a nod to the future too? We have a few other images in mind to play around with, but again the emphasis will be on doing something we enjoy, something like country bumpkins might be next, who knows.
so there you have it....

In case you were further interested....

The item in the artwork is a rusty old scythe that we found at a car boot sale (do you have those over there? Car trunk sales?). It has to be a century old and looks like driftwood and rust, I still have it and admire it often.

The previous album title of Seethe was just the most appropriate song title on the album to translate into the album title, so yes, that was a choice of ignorance.

The shirts/ties thing, it is interesting to see how the scenes vary from place to place. Sure, i recognize that Kraftwerk did that sort of thing, and Sparks perhaps too, but I never really analyzed it too much. Thinking now, the shirts/ties look would be found more in britpop/garage rock/indie currently. Interesting observation.

Atari Teenage Riot are certainly a band I like, but I rarely listen to them, go figure! I'm more into the alternative metal type stuff, drone, dark ambient, with a major fixation on bands like Butthole Surfers and the Pixies. Industrial wise, Skinny Puppy and Babyland would be my most listened to bands.


1 comment:

emphryio said...

Button down shirts with ties covered in blood can be symbolic of the death of what that outfit stands for. Should tuck the shirts in though. And have more symbology which is coherent with that.