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Album Review
Holy Fire

Holy Fire
by Foals

Warner Music

Review Date
11th March 2013
Reviewed by
Joel Greatbatch

Bands who have managed to avoid the 2nd album sophomore slump must pop champagne and drink in the fact that people are still buying their albums, they haven’t been dumped by their record label, and nobody has yet pulled a knife on a frustrated band member. UK band Foals have managed to release two successful albums, the first being Antidotes which was nominated for the UK’s converted Mercury Prize, and their second work Total Life Forever managing to avoid a shellacking by the barbed tongues of the usual indie/alternative critics. Instead the expansive and melodic platform set by Total Life Forever is the spring board from which Holy Fire is launched from.

Having a four minute near instrumental introduction called ‘Prelude’ could smack of some pretension, but it does the job at showcasing some of the new gravelly direction the album will occasionally drift into. Though it’s something you’ll skip every time you listen to the album, it’s high and low culminations would be highly effective at kicking off a proceeding live set. Next up is lead single ‘Inhaler’, with their drummer narrowly avoiding the reality that disco beats aren’t cool anymore, and it’s head nodding stomp sounding surprising like Pluto’s ‘Long White Cross’. The pre-chorus builds for what seems like an eternity but your patience is rewarded when the chorus gets all Rage Against the Machine on your unexpected ears. It’s quite a thrill and shows some maturation from a band known for being calculated stepping out and rocking out when needed.

Other tracks still showcase their post-punk groove, but the underlying riffs and reverbed guitar spindles hint at a desire to fill some big venues and not just your dive bar. This is shown none more than on album highlight ‘Bad Habit’, a conglomeration of Unforgettable Fire era U2, Antics era Interpol, and strangely enough Tears for Fears provided by its big chorus and singer Yannis Philippakis’ accent. This blueprint is successfully applied to other gems such as ‘Milk & Spiders’ and ‘Everytime’, but the rest of the album doesn’t quite build upon ‘Inhaler’s arresting bombast. ‘Providence’ comes close with some guitar crunch, dead pan chorus of “I’m an animal just like you” and an uncharacteristic racket to finish. It’s fairly obvious I’m favouring the grittier and louder sound from the band, but it’s only because I personally found this approach the most exciting and adventurous to listen to.

While Holy Fire continues to show their capability at wrapping a decent tune around their bullet proof rhythm, the album fails to fire on all cylinders like the first quarter suggested. It is a snappy piece of work and worth your patronage, but it feels like a part three of an enjoyable taste test for what will hopefully be a cork popping and arena filling fourth album.


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