Hailing from Exeter and offering a comprehensive and depressing take on modern rock, Black Foxxes write music that sets itself aside from a lot of other bands, and, as a follow-up to their debut ‘I’m Not Well’ in 2016, ‘Reiði’ is no exception. The title means “rage” in Icelandic, yet the album isn’t all-guns-blazing aggressive progressive rock at all. In fact, the album is so carefully orchestrated and wound together that it almost feels like it’s telling a story through a collection of ten melancholic and deep cuts.
Opener ‘Breathe’‘s soft, mellow feel digs us into the depth of an emotionally charged album. Frontman Mark Holley‘s floaty, heartfelt performance rings in the ear as he glides over high-end vocals, declaring “I want to set myself free”. It’s a track that takes its time to reach a sweeping climax, but serves as a perfect reflection of what is to come for the rest of the record.
Single ‘Manic In Me’ has a slight twang of Stereophonics embedded in it, with its beautiful, sour sliding melodies switching up the lead guitar on the track, before the bust-up chorus pounds through the mix, delivering a catchy track with relatable, self-driven lyrics. ‘Sæla’ (meaning “bliss”) knocks the tone back a notch, with fuzzy guitars melting over an easy 4/4 up-beat rhythm. Holley‘s vocals carry the melody of the track extensively, particularly at one point in the second verse as he bursts, “I know it’s suffer”, intensifying what is already a stellar song.
‘The Big Wild’ and its laid back softness is gentle and still charmingly engaging towards its conclusion, with a handful of reverb delay and springy, trembling guitar that sounds slightly similar to Turnover‘s easy sound. ‘Oh, It Had To Be You’ carries a bitter sting as Holley gently sings the title repeatedly over a long-ringing tremolo guitar. Strings carry the lead in the background of the mix as the track gains momentum into a melancholy, desperate, and vengeful end.
As we enter the second half of the record, there are no signs of a promising album dying off as the three-piece storm through pumped-up grinder ‘Joy’; Holley‘s shouted vocals offer a different tone. His vibrating vocal chords also chime through later track ‘Flowers’, showing a variety of intense and unmistakable individual cleans. As you’ve probably already guessed, Holley‘s performance throughout this release is nothing short of exceptional.
‘Float On’ offers up a five-minute conclusion to the record, easing in with echoing, shiny chords spreading across a guiding drum track. The drum descends into an emotional frenzy as Holley blasts “Float on magically” to give this beautiful record a stunning end.
With only two albums under their belt, the Exeter three-piece are delivering at an exemplary high standard, with ‘Reiði’ being clear proof of this. The record is a bitter-sweet concoction of sadness, scented with an air of confidence and vigour. Good job, boys.