Record Review - 2 August 21 2003

Rough seas pitch Fin Fang Foom to and fro, propelling the trio’s tightly wound arrangements through musical crests of drum thundering and guitar that rains down and dissipates. Piano often replaces the bass as the medium of melodic ballast, an undertow for the band’s swirling eddies and choppy waves of guitar, pushing and breaking, licking at the corners of the songs before submerging the tracks beneath a gathering storm of math-rock roar.

The lyrics reflect the dramatic musical tone. “At least I know I’m free in your arms,” sings Edwin Sanchez on “The Jetties,” before instructing, “If I die, carry me in your arms to the sea.” Other tracks, including “In Harm’s Way,” “Cruel and Unusual” and “How to Make a Monster” convey the dark, Faustian night reflected in the album’s title. Drummer Michael Glass’ rubbery percussive kick is key, enveloping the music like a leather jumpsuit as driving rhythms and muscle-car riffs power-shift from a gentle quiver in the curves to raw churn in the straightaway. Meanwhile, the more sonorous aspects of the piano countervail the guttural, heart-bursting throttle of the guitar and drums.

Indeed, while the Chapel Hill three-piece cover similar ground as mid-’90s post-rock acts like June of 44 and Sonora Pine, the use of piano is unique and helps leaven the submersive aspects of their developing maelstrom.

Fin Fang Foom plays The Earl Sat., Aug. 23. $6.