Review: In Fear and Faith – Imperial

Artist: In Fear and Faith
Album: Imperial
Genre: Post-Hardcore/Metalcore
Label: Rise

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2010 which bands deserved to break through this year, I wouldn’t have taken more than a few seconds to respond, “The Wonder Years and In Fear and Faith.” As most of you know by now, The Wonder Years’ Sophormore release, The Upsides, hit stores in January and sold well enough to recently get the band upstreamed to Hopeless Records, a label that, without being hard on No Sleep Records, will actually be able to nurture the quick growth of the band. So with one down, we turn to the San Diego post hardcore/metalcore juggernauts In Fear and Faith whose Sophormore full length Imperial hits stores via Rise Records on June 15th. Unlike other reviews on UTG where we try and be sly, I will tell you straight from the beginning, without a doubt in my mind, this record will be in your top ten of 2010.

Having used their recurring “pirate” theme to its extent over the last two releases and turning the focus of their music to what they themselves are going through, In Fear and Faith intelligently waste no time separating the now from the then by opening with a seemingly straightforward song about the hard choices the band has had to make to stay together on the hauntingly heavy, “The Solitary Life.” The vocal pairing of Cody Anderson and Scott Barnes quickly proves to mesh better than we’ve seen in the past as the two switch off perfectly as they tell about living “the single life” and how while it may not be for most, is the path they’ve chosen to get where they are. It’s a strong start to an album that quickly shows the evolution on Imperial is greater than most ever expected.

As we actually begin to dig into the record with the dark yet ridiculously catchy “Bones,” its clear the band is holding nothing back on the release. With lines like “All you were good for was everything, but I guess that it wasn’t enough to keep you alive, I’m horrified by my potential, I am so capable of terrible things,” it may be hard for fans of the group’s more uplifting songs to swallow their new sound, but the musicianship and hooks are simply impossible to deny. If you prefer the heavier side of IFAF, have no fears, as they truly “bring it” on this release. “I Know You Know,” a track about a relationship gone awry, comes with crushing lines like, “I never want to see you again, you want forgiveness then go find religion,” that is matched with crushing double bass, intricate guitar work, and a bass line that won’t let you quit until the more epically structured “Bought The Ticket, Take The Ride” comes in with sweeping piano and deeply complex core instrumentation. Its a strong song that helps propel the listener farther into the album with immeasurably high anticipation for what is to come.

Fans of earlier songs like “The Taste of Regret” will instantly cling to the attack on their critics that is “Pursuit.” A healthy portion of electronics leads us into Barnes’ unforgettable croon before the entire group joins and brings the heavy fast and hard before taking a slightly more straightforward [yet epic as all hell] route with “Once is Enough.” This then leads us back to the dark and brutal world we found on “Bones,” only with even healthier portions of chugs on, “Counselor.” It is here that we find the biggest curveball thrown by the group yet with their first entirely scream-free song. Built mainly around a piano melody developed by multi-instrumentalist Ramin Niroomand, “Heavy Lies The Crown” finds Barnes taking front and center for an emotionally charged track that floods your ears with emotion and showcases a whole new and intriguing side of the band. I know, as I’m sure they do, that there will certainly be fans who take a strong disliking to the group showcasing their softer side, but I find it hard to believe that after hearing it even once anyone will be opposed to hitting “repeat” at least three times.

Coming finally to the last few tracks on the record, the group sticks to their post-hardcore roots and simply turns the level of songwriting up to 11. “Afterthought,” a seemingly obvious choice for next single, details the last moments of a relationship with one of the most straightforward songs from the band to date, but it’s the group’s ability to make you love something so structurally simple that proves just how talented they truly are. This leads to Barnes taking us by the hand and throat into “The High Life” before “Live Love Redeux” ushers in the true end of the record with heavy piano and electronics before exploding for the final 90 seconds into a storm of metalcore that leaves you with your jaw on the floor and the line “just remember that nothing is ever so bad that it could not be worse” rattling around your skull.

For those of you who thought the post-hardcore/metalcore genre had become a vast plateau of mediocre songwriting and cheap tricks to bring the mosh, think again. In Fear and Faith have proven, not only on Imperial, but their other two releases as well that they are head and shoulders above the rest of their genre and the evolution taken on this release should be enough to finally push them into the mainstream rock/metal scene. These guys pour their souls into each and every note you hear on the record and it translates through in the brilliant music they’re able to turn out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one in this genre works harder than In Fear and Faith and this record proves that ten fold. Imperial is a jaw dropping, skull crushing, heart ripping 13 tracks that will leave you panting on the floor, yet screaming for more for months to come. The best part of it all? In Fear and Faith are still just getting started in their career. That’s right, this isn’t even their prime yet and already they’re outperforming veterans in their field. Get ready everyone else in this genre, the bar has just been raised significantly.

Score: 9.5/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • 1337

    leak it please!

  • James

    Never.

  • dan

    ^^^ goood answer!.. and good review.. although i am so anxious to get it, i dont want it to leak cause i wanna buy it from hot topic

  • DanielT

    i wanna buy it too but id still rather have it early

  • bond

    James, how come you have the album already? Where did you get it?

  • Jk.

    This album is superb, a utter rollecoaster of emotion.
    INFAF
    are
    beautiful writers and muscians.
    Utterly genre defining.