Oct 302023

(Andy Synn gives his thoughts on the new Fuming Mouth album, out Friday)

To describe Last Day of Sun simply as a “post-cancer” album would be overly-reductive.

It’s more than just that, for sure.

But there’s no question that the knowledge of Fuming Mouth frontman Mark Whelan’s battle with, and recovery from, Acute Myeloid Leukemia definitely adds some extra thematic weight to the record’s metallic meditations on mortality and the fragility of existence.

On first impressions, however, it doesn’t appear as if Whelan’s brush with the reaper has drastically altered the band’s approach, as their core sound – an aggressive amalgam of Death Metal and Hardcore, equal parts Entombed and Earth Crisis, that strips both genres down to their bare essentials and then builds them back up into something leaner and meaner – remains largely the same.

But it doesn’t take too long for the more subtle changes – the increased sense of urgency, the more prominent use of melody (with killer cuts like the moody title-track and the sinister slow-burn of “Postfigurement” possessing a distinctly Dismember-ish feel), and some unexpected flirtations with new elements and embellishments (including, gasp, clean vocals) – to make themselves known, revealing that Fuming Mouth aren’t playing it safe on Last Day of Sun.

I’ll grant you, not everything the band do hits the mark quite as well as they probably hoped it would – the listless crooning of “Leaving Euphoria”, for example, isn’t half as effective as the keening chorus of “The Silence Beyond Life” (whose anthemic melancholy is something I’d love to hear more of in the future) – but if the worst you can say about an album is that its ambitions sometimes outpace its execution… well, that’s the sort of problem that most bands would probably be more than happy to have!

Indeed, I’d say that most bands would be overjoyed to have songs like massive opener “Out of Time”, whose mix of chugging, neck-wrecking grooves and piercing melodic leads sets a high bar for the album early on, and the humongously heavy “The Sign of Pain” in their collection, and I don’t doubt that the lethal hookiness of “I’ll Find You” or the more Hardcore-oriented heaviness of “Kill the Disease” (whose final line, “I’ll kill it before it kills me!” hits just as hard as you might imagine) will deservedly become live-set staples for years to come.

Still, as a long-time fan of Fuming Mouth I have to admit… Last Day of Sun isn’t exactly what I was expecting from them by any means.

But that’s not a bad thing. Because, in a year which has seen a lot of the bigger bands and more famous faces either lazily playing to the cheap seats or desperately trying to garner some cheap heat, it’s refreshing to hear someone actually seizing the day and taking the opportunity to push themselves outside of their comfort zone, even if it risks alienating a few people along the way. After all, life is simply too short not to.

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