From hiatus to reunion tours to disbandment to album commemoration shows, the traditionally post-hardcore 5-piece finally have a triumphant rebound in the release of Back To Oblivion, their first album in nine years.
A desultory listen here offers a couple of initial observations. Firstly, the guys have changed their sound. The often brittle, strident energy of earlier work has been toned back quite a bit and their post-hardcore sound sometimes gives way to an almost pop-punk meets hard rock vibe. Perhaps this was an unconscious move to rebel against the likely huge pressure of living up to 2002’s much-loved What It Is To Burn. The same pressure that no doubt lead to the poor reception of Say Hello To Sunshine in 2005. Or maybe it’s just a natural progression from the rawness of any band’s earlier years. Either way, the album opens with a slightly underwhelming title track that falls a little flat despite it’s token frenzied energy.
Thankfully, the intro is the anomaly here and all is redeemed by another noteworthy change. There’s an undeniably more polished sound in general. Nate Barcalow’s voice has ripened into something even more rich and varied. It could be the production of Brian Virtue here (Deftones, Jane’s Addiction) or possibly the fact that these guys have kept up fairly vigorous touring throughout much of their fragmented status as a band, allowing them to grow into their individual talents even further. Barcalow’s vocals now carry a new depth of lyrical expression and when you really start to get into this album, it seems to carry the tone of a bemused spectator commenting on a discordant society.
This is particularly apparent on Murder Me which paints a picture of all-encompassing obsession in all its forms. This is a great track that builds upon itself from quiet guitars that layer into unearthly violins and soaring, warbling vocals before blistering into an all out rock anthem. Similarly, Play Dead is straight from the heart, invoking it’s own chilling atmosphere from the first hauntingly plucked notes. Despite it’s gloomy recitation “this is the end, watching the rest of them play dead”, it’s an essence of transcendence and transformation that emerges.
The way tracks are pitted against each other is ace throughout. Every song opens with an intro that teases you in and the extreme polish and commercial viability of tracks like Picasso Trigger gives way occasionally to the likes of Two Guns To The Temple where the vocals are ulcerous against blistering drums. Inferium starts off with classic violins that make way for the melodrama of viscerally hard-core guitar while the disparately gentle, acoustic New Wave is the perfect album clincher.
It’s nice when a band can really own their evolution into something different. In Back to Oblivion, Finch have found the perfect vehicle for a confident comeback and hopefully we won’t have to wait another nine years for their next release.