Fightstar ‘Behind the Devil’s Back’ (Album Review)
Release Date: 16th October 2015
In One Line: The Busted anti-Christ
Favourite Tracks: Sharp Tongue, Animal, Overdrive
Favourite Lyric: “the colour bleeds as the dawn breaks and the revs drift up…”
Busted may have announced their reunion this week, with Charlie Simpson resigning himself to the folds of the pop world, but his nastier, angrier and more capable side project has very much asserted its dominance as one of the UK’s greats with this latest record…
First impressions are the key to success in most situations, interviews, meeting the one, meeting the parents, meeting the one’s sister… I digress. The point is that Behind the Devil’s Back makes a very good first impression and doesn’t fail to disappoint as the album progresses. It has got the job, found the one, met her parents and looked her sister straight in the eye without breaking a sweat.
Opener ‘Sharp Tongue’ is akin to a wild animal baring its teeth in the face of imminent danger. It’s raw, assertive and bursting with gnarly riffs, it’s a true tribute to the heavy rock side of Fightstar that has reared its head over the years and a firm ballpark of the record’s quality. It’s hard for a band to remain with a firm rock identity whilst attempting to make their own sound pack that heavy luggage that Fightstar are so aptly able to weave into their music without straying into the realms of thudding generic metalcore. Tracks ‘Murder All Over’ and ‘Behind the Devils Back’ prove this succinctly, throwing well structured riffs and metal influenced licks into a blend of rousing choruses. This all makes for a chilling rendition of hard hitting heavy songs delivered with the grace and atmospheric resilience of rocks catchiest tunes. They are bound to get the pits going, whilst provoking a sing along and as I swing wildly in my bedroom to the final screams of ‘Murder All Over’ (yeah I do that) it’s hard to imagine that Fightstar are capable of diversifying their sound, on this record at least.
‘Hard to imagine’ doesn’t always translate to being false. Despite its assertively heavy notions, the four-piece have managed to give Behind… its lighter, more morose moments. The verse of ‘The Blackest of Birds’ seeps into the eardrum with an eerie and iridescent nature, with the use of spaced out bass lines and simple barre chords giving the track a laid back lead into an equally anathematic chorus. Single ‘Overdrive’ is just as divergent with its straight up rock and roll sound, a beautiful composition of the modern British scene which could be derived from the likes of Young Guns or You Me at Six but under Fightstar’s skill remains frayed around the edges, a raw slight to its unique nature. Some tracks seem to fall down the repetitive bear trap of the record, with the middle song ‘More human than Human’ having a sickly deja vu feel to it. Fortunately it’s an exception and one that only really stands out due to the length of the ten-song album.
Lead single ‘Animal’ remains a highlight in amongst the heavier side of Behind… with the band taking a more grinding hardcore approach and testing the growling skills of frontman Charlie Simpson in the process. ‘My street, my town, my rules’ Simpson scream as the raw crunching riffs of the opening verse punch through the track, a lyrical simplicity that reflects the definitive nature of this album.
Essentially that is what Behind the Devil’s Back is for Fightstar, definitive. It is their flag in the ground and critically it is their own flag that they are waving. It’s not perfect or polished but it feels like Fightstar have managed to establish a sound which sits jauntily between the many genres they attempts to emulate. Behind the Devil’s Back isn’t perfect and possibly not the best of Fightstar’s discography but it seems to be the album that the band want to write and it’s one that the fans will find hard to fault. Busted fans on the other hand… well maybe you should stick to Charlie Simpson circa 2003, unless you want to see your beloved make ‘rah’ noises with his mouth.