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Foe - "Arm Yourself With Clairvoyance"
House Of Stairs 2003

Foe, a powerful London trio act, is Jason Carty (guitar), Crawford Blair (bass, baritone guitar) and Paul Westwood (battery). Their music is not framed into pre-choruses, choruses and instrumental middle sections as we usually expect in songwriting. It has no barriers. It constantly searches, explores and investigates. It is direct reflection of three unique personalities that are gathered under Foe's flag.

Three pieced unit plays pure instrumental music. And vocals would only spoil band's highly provocative and revolutionary stand. If I am forced to describe what is always hard to describe when facing new things, I could call Foe's style as a hybrid of metal riffing abecedarian that ranges from classical metal speedy touches up to more "bad to the bone" thrashy palm muted eruptions, supremely combined and balanced with nice touches of pure freedom that jazz delivers. With word jazz I have in mind seventies era perfect rock and jazz fusionists like Miles Davis or Mahavishnu Orchestra. Aptly titled debut album (aptly because clairvoyant Foe is a true bringer of revolution) delivers 32 minutes of music. Looking from this angle, total running time of a record is absolutely misleading. It might be short, but you actually get a lot of music here.

Music is assembled on a very complex way. At least this was my impression after first few circles of CD listening. But when Foe penetrates under your skin it will surely enchant you. Hate me, but Jason Carty's guitar style could be described as a crossover between modernized heavy metal riffing legacy and John McLaughlin's absolute jazz musical freedom. His melody is not confined inside cliché major or minor scales. It needs more breathing room and therefore delivers diverse selection of everything that grows on man's mind. Foe are not afraid of filling their tracks with tons of different riffs that might serve to certain "common" band for making a whole record. Foe has caught sincere King Crimson's "nuttiness" on distinctly own way and their musical expression constantly tastes the unknown.

We got a fine contrast between guitar on one hand and rhythm section on other. Chemistry simply works. Sound is garaged in production and pounds very alive, yet all three instruments are balanced very well. Guys are perfectly tuned in. Drums are constantly switching between all sort of different bridges with tasty diverse addition of cymbals. Bass is fat and thunderous, yet gives an impression of being played tender and smooth. When guitar riffing pauses or where it lets riff to ring, bass guitar (bravely counter weighted by brilliant drum work) steps in a centre and effectively fills free sound space.

These guys are rocking self confident and gutsy all the way, and the result is? A blast of pure groovy jamming that will shiver you from upside down. Well, at moments Foe strikes very linear, sometimes raw and almost brutal. In their roots they are still metal. But these linear moments are supremely balanced with certain points where all three guys freely choose to migrate separated ways. This enriches whole musical picture in getting more flexible, and widens band's sound specter. If guitar serves as a main melody maker, rhythm line gives a frame for this melody to stick on it. Stick on a best possible way. Sound picture is cleverly fulfilled first of all by Jason's massive riffage and constant unpredictable moves while using all sort of his unique guitar tricks, further than by almost distorted sounding bass line and sparkling diverse drum work.

Foe are a hot spot of present rock and roll because they differ so much from standards. Foe doesn't fear the unknown. And because of that band was highly awarded by finding a right path. And this path is called unique music style that confirms this young challenging band promises a lot in fortune. To call them as progressive metal, math rock or whatever what, would be a sort of degradation for them. As I said, this music has no time and space limitations and could be simply called as "foe rock". When there's a Foe, everything is possible. Dig in!

Author:   Ale¹

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