I feel somewhat of a fraud starting to type these words out and I’ll explain why. As a self-confirmed fan of bands such as Jesu, Mogwai, Thursday, ISIS the band and all of the other bands that make up that oeuvre of post hardcore, screamo and post rock shenanigans, I have ‘heard’ of Envy but have never ‘heard’ Envy if that makes sense? They are one of those bands that are there and intrinsic really when you think about this genre. One of the tent poles, the original protagonists, forefathers and bearers of multiple band children. Blazing a trail, smashing down the boundaries (both racial and musical) and they seem to be referenced by the good and the great (and the shit) that makes up the modern ‘post rock/hardcore’ nomenclature. But they seem to have passed me by and I for one can’t fathom how this has happened? I am not averse to a deep trawl down the rabbit hole of music (of many genres) that I love, but Envy just seem to have eluded me. Time to rectify that immediately and thus started a few weeks of plundering their back catalogue to try and give myself at least some musical cover as provide context when reviewing Envy’s seventh full length effort that sees them reunited with their original singer Tetsuya Fukagawa.
Given Envy have been around since 1992, you would expect their sound to change over time and whilst that is true, going through their back catalogue, there are still enough of the original components from say their first album ‘From Here To Eternity’ to make this instantly recognisable. The epic sweeping guitars roar like an incoming wave, slurping up sand, fish, pebbles, rocks and swimmers before dumping them on the beach and retreating into the darkness from once they came. It ebbs and flows, swells and contracts and sounds huge, expansive and glorious. You can see where Envy have had an effect on bands still around today such as say Conjurer, Will Haven, Cave In and hundreds of others. It wields a huge machete deftly and with poise, rather than cutting a bloody swathe, it cleaves pretty patterns in the air. Now, a lot of fan criticisms will say that some of the songs featured here fall into that trap of being slightly limp and introverted sonic soundscapes, that float around like a stale fart before segueing into shoe gazing and guitar acrobatics that neither serve the song but rather the ego of the band. Fuck that! This is great, and on songs such as ‘Marginalized Thread’ where they really cut loose, you can feel the sweaty and angry Envy of 1992, bursting through and delivering a knockout blow. Imagine a cross between Cult of Luna, Pelican, Devil Sold His Soul and And So I Watch You From Afar.
This is a great album, that improves on each subsequent listen. New nuggets of sonic splendiferousness raise their heads and will ear worm you for days and weeks to come. Coupled with the fact that this feels like a warm blanket of angel delight (butterscotch) with added crunch and bite, this all combines to produce one of the best things I have heard this year (I know its only January but it’s started with a bang). Compelling, dramatic, heavy, fast, slow, grinding, ethereal and beautiful.
(9.5/10 Nick Griffiths)