The Felix Culpa - Sever Your Roots
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: January 23, 2010
Why some bands blow up and others don’t is something I will never understand. Of course, you will always have the people who are willing to sell out to make it big, such as Cobra Starship, and people who spend their whole career struggling to make music they believe in, The Felix Culpa. But, while selling yourself to the industry has its benefit, the struggle that everyone else goes through is worth it. The emotion, passion, pride, and love that is in their craft means so much more to not only them, but their listeners, too. This is why The Felix Culpa has become a local favorite around Chicago. They have been building a steady fan base in the Chicago underground scene for about a decade now but with no real exposure. As the years have passed, the band has progressed into a indie/post-hardcore machine that runs on raw emotion. In the same vein as Brand New or As Cities Burn, The Felix Culpa make dark grasping music that pulls you in and never lets go. If comparisons to those two bands isn’t enough for you, they made Alternative Press’s list of 100 bands you need to know. They also made their list of top ten songs over ten minutes. On top of that, their last full length Commitment was dubbed a post-hardcore masterpiece, so it’s understandable to see where all this excitement is coming from. The question is, why aren’t you more excited for Sever Your Roots?
For starters, the album tracks in at over an hour long, which is more than most artists even think of putting out now. Nine out of the fourteen tracks are over four minutes long, which shows how much substance is on this record. You're probably thinking, “Just because a record is long doesn’t mean it’s good,” and while you’re right, that isn’t the case for Sever Your Roots. Every second on this album is carefully thought out and has been crafted to your liking. Trust me when I say this album competes with releases from the bands mentioned earlier.
Sever Your Roots starts out with “New Home Life,” a slow opener that makes you feel like you’re listening to a live broadcast and then comes full force to slap you in the face. But don’t worry, it’s only for a short stint. As the song pushes forward, the storm calms down and comes back with horns and reverbed guitars that caress you until you feel at home once again, just to be slammed again as “Our Holy Ghosts” comes crashing into you. A rumbling bass line, finger snaps, cymbal crashes, and chanting chorus of, “To be in love/With love, is not enough, this time” proves to be infectious and chilling, simultaneously. One song just rolls into another without any chance for air as “The Constant” comes roaring in next. This song sounds like it could have been pulled right from The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, with some fast guitar work and in-your-face scowls. Marky Hladish belts out lines so reminiscent to Jesse Lacey it’s scary. “Roots” being one of the “interludes” if you will, keeps the constant flow going right into “Escape To The Mountain, Lest Thou Consumed” which showcases some of the fanciest guitar work on the whole album. With crunchy riffs layered underneath the distinct lead played by Dustin Currier, this song stands out as one of the more impressive numbers on this masterpiece. Oddly enough, the next song, “First One to the Scene of the Accident,” starts off with the words, “Breathe now, While you have the chance” but before you get the chance, the band drowns you in sound, coming at you full force, topped with mandolin and violin. “Unwriting Our Songs” is the musical equivalent to a chaser, as it washes down the burning sensation that “First One to the Scene of the Accident Always Gets Blood On Their Hands” left in your mouth. Slow and smooth, the song passes along like a cold winter breeze transitioning into “Mutiny." Hladish’s croons bleed emotion in every verse, almost Geoff Rickly-like, which goes unseen in the age of pitch perfect performances thanks to auto tune.
After another “interlude” track, “Rum and Cigarettes,” the guys come back into full swing with one of the most fluent tracks on the album, “Because This is How We Speak,” which fades out with yet another haunting piano and violin composition. “It's Raining At Indian Wells,” and “What You Call Thought Control,I Call Thought Control” pick you up just to slam you down. With the combination of thundering drumming, in your face riffs, and bass lines that shake the room more than when Rush Limbaugh opens his mouth, there isn’t much to complain about here. “An Instrument” is the climax of the album, and a pinnacle as great as this is, it is rarely seen in music today. A seven minute epic, it starts with spine chilling vocal melodies, guitar work, and chimes of piano sprinkled throughout as it comes to a head and bursts into overpowering rhythms and layers. It smashes your head back and forth until you can barely stand, but pulls you back up just in time to see everything come to a close. “Apologies” could possibly be the most well crafted song on the whole album, as it exemplifies everything this record is about: the push and pull of emotions and the overall rollercoaster ride that is Sever Your Roots. The slow number serves almost as an epilogue. There is impressive guitar work that any post-rock band would be proud of and Hladish’s defined vocals cementing the end of a masterpiece. When everything is all said and done, you have a feeling of accomplishment after hearing this album, and that isn’t normal in the age of digital singles.
The Felix Culpa have done it again, and if this isn’t enough to push them into the limelight, I’m not sure what will be. Call them stunning, call them amazing, call them refreshing, but at the end of the day, The Felix Culpa are something original. If Sever Your Roots isn’t your kind of music, you can hopefully at least respect these men for creating something so passionate and moving. In these desperate times, we music fans need to support artists that create things aside from the neon outburst that has taken over the scene, and Sever Your Roots is the perfect storm.
Great review, Keagan. More people need to get on this album, seriously. These guys are so talented and deserve all the exposure they can get. This album is solid from start to end. I love that every single song is distinct from each other. A lot of bands that put out such long albums with longer songs tend to have songs that run together. I am so happy to say this is not one of those albums.
If this doesn't take my album of the year, I'll be very surprised. I can't stop listening.
This is by far my favorite band to see live. They are so consistent and they pour their hearts and leave absolutely everything on stage.
Good review, like the album a lot. I've never been super huge on them however I've always found them to be very talented and still enjoyable to say the least. This album I think will really get people talking considering how great it really is.