Release Date: Jul 12, 2011
Record label: Entertainment One Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal
Review Summary: This is what listening to a bands "magnum opus" sounds like. MaybeIt’s hard to not qualify the greatness that is Arrows and Anchors; nearly every thing done here can be so, so, so easily traced back to El Cielo and Catch Without Arms. Yeah, it’s heavier as a general rule, and while Darroh Sudderth may have more range than Gavin Hayes has ever had, his vocals still serve the same incredibly melodic and soothing function.
Four years in the making, this one's a bit of a beast... It’s been a four-year wait for Fair To Midland’s fourth album – and the Texans have used the time to build a beast. The beauty of their sound is its unpredictability: fragments of rock, metal, folk, punk and pop collide and smash, creating Frankenstein monsters that spark into life and chase you down.
This restless Texas prog-metal outfit, best known as the former protégés of Serj Tankian (and the best Tool-aping act since Chevelle), have yet to make an epic game-changer of an album, but Arrows & Anchors, their fourth, comes close. Sprawling and ornery and darker than anything else they’ve done, it’s a fulminating mass of Brooklyn hipster rumination (“Short-Haired Tornado”), mouth-breathing thrash (“Rikki Tikki Tavi”), and random instrumentals. The most interesting track here is the very weird “Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow,” a mash-up of prog, country, and hard rock as awkward as it is awesome.
On Fair to Midland's fourth full-length effort, and their debut for Entertainment One, the Texas prog metal quintet up their musical ante considerably. Given the four years that elapsed between Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, Fair to Midland have taken their root-hooky, heavy, and immediate sound and shifted its focus considerably. Arrows & Anchors' 15 tracks clock in at nearly 55 minutes, with only one cut -- ten-minute closer "The Greener Grass" -- being over five minutes in length.
The fourth album by Texas prog-rockers Fair to Midland is undoubtedly their heaviest, often times to a fault. Over the course of these 15 songs, the quintet’s main focus seems to be radio-rock fare a la Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace (“Heavens To Murgatroyd,” “A Loophole In Limbo”) instead of the progressive, inventive instrumentation that puts them miles beyond anything jocked by local modern-rock DJs. There’s always been a heavier influence in the band’s music, but on Arrows & Anchors, their ambitious desires to step outside the genre box often get bogged down in a sea of down-tuned guitar and maudlin lyrics.