Remember way back in 2005, when Charlie Simpson decided to leave pop rock poster boy trio Busted to focus full-time on Fightstar? He faced a huge backlash from both communities; the Busted fans for abandoning the group and leading to their demise, and large members of the rock community for his frowned upon past. Following a handful of albums and several years of grafting on the road, Simpson and co. gradually got more and more accepted into their alt rock/post-hardcore home, both by fans and peers.
After all their hard work, the band announced a hiatus back in 2010, to take some time off and return to things when they’re ready. There was no drama, and in fact the other members decided to work on other endeavours; Simpson released two solo records, and both Alex Westaway and Dan Haigh both worked on a side-project, Gunship, which focused on more cinematic driven work. However, fast-forward to 2015, the band have played a few reunion shows, raised funds via PledgeMusic from their fans, and put out a new record: ‘Behind The Devil’s Back’.
Fightstar have always been a band who’ve been able to pin us down with earth shuddering riffs before catapulting us with glossy, giant choruses. This record is no different, and actually comes across as the band’s heaviest and most streamlined record to date. Opener ‘Sharp Tongue’ shoves us in the deep end, submerging us into the record with an almost prog-like main riff, before Simpson constrains us comfortably with the clean hooks.
What stood as the main pitfalls on the band’s previous two LPs, ‘Be Human’ and ‘One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours’, seems to be almost completely removed. The more quiet and subdued work has been pushed to one side and cut-out, avoiding claims of any filler, and just keeps our heads a-banging all the way through.
‘Murder All Over’ may hold one of the band’s strongest choruses to date, and the vocal trade-off between Simpson and Westaway may be their best and most organic since ‘Paint Your Target’ in their early days. ‘Animal’ is also a strong contender for best track on the record, and album closer ‘Dive’, which is ethereal, haunting and captivating in equal measures, closes the album in a beautiful apocalyptic style.
Whilst Fightstar may not be the first band you think of when it comes to British post-hardcore, and some may still be unable to shake off the Busted past (c’mon, it’s been a decade now) for this less financially viable yet incredibly more fruitful outing, ‘Behind The Devil’s Back’ is the strongest comeback that 2015 has had to offer us so far, and though it may have the shortest runtime of all of their albums to date, it’s also the most cohesive and put together. If nothing else, that hiatus has done these fellas a world of good.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)