Review: Failure – The Heart Is A Monster

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The first track of The Heart Is A Monster, Failure‘s first album in 19 years, is named “Segue 4”. Long time fans, be excited – the album lives up to what that title promises. Now, for the young and/or uninformed who find that confusing, a history lesson; Failure created a perfect album in 1996 and they know it. They and a small, precious handful of like-minded bands were so good at “post-grunge” that critics and fans coined the microgenre of “space rock” to describe the expansive sound and differentiate them from the massive glut of their flannel-clad Nirvana-wannabe contemporaries who just did not… you know… “get it”. These bands (like Failure, Hum, and Shiner) gradually faded from the dim stardom their minor hit singles afforded them, only to be inducted into the “ahead-of-their-time rock n’ roll hall of fame” by their fiercely loyal cult following.

Failures’ aforementioned perfect album was called Fantastic Planet. They engineered it themselves in Lita Ford‘s Los Angeles home, so they had all the time they wanted to record it. The result of this relaxed atmosphere was a dense and lengthy album, the atmosphere of which mirrored the lyrical themes of interstellar travel, malaise, and drug usage. Among Fantastic Planet’s meticulously paced seventeen tracks are three ambient moodsetters, named “Segue 1”, “Segue 2”, and “Segue 3”.

Failure broke up after this album, and, save for some b-side compilations, have been silent for nearly two decades. Last year they announced a comeback tour, then a new album. That album is now upon us, and Failure has audaciously hinted that this album is a companion piece to their now hallowed 1996 masterpiece by continuing to name segues consecutively in reference to those found on Fantastic Planet.

After seeing The Heart Is A Monster‘s tracklisting, I decided I would first listen to Fantastic Planet in full and then immediately follow it up with Heart. When listened to in this way, with Heart as a supersized side “B” to Fantastic Planet, the sensation is that Fantastic wanders in a dreamscape – then after the bleeps and bloops of “Segue 4″ eases us through a 19 year production quality difference; “Hot Traveler” feels like a space cadet has finally awoken from hyperbaric sleep and arrived on the planet they sought after, only to find the landscape much more troublesome than anticipated.

Like Fantastic Planet, Heart is a lengthy and thorough exploration of modern midtempo hard rock music. The chorus of “A.M. Amnesia” is neck-snappingly heavy while also being alarmingly beautiful. The verses of “Counterfeit Sky” might as well be the dictionary definition of what “space rock” ought to mean, while “Otherwhere” proves that even dissonance can be grandiose and interplanetary. In a just world “The Focus” would be a heavy rotation single on your local alt rock radio station. Actually, that’s true of just about all these songs; for instance, “Come Crashing” might be Failure’s most effective earworm since “The Nurse Who Loved Me“.

The production of this album is very careful and detailed, but Failure’s performances still sound quite human. A careful listen to “The Focus” reveals that the massive, diverse sound of that song (as on most of the record) is accomplished with a standard power trio setup, no overdubs required. The crackling, fat bass fills up the sound such that the guitar can freely bounce between tones and the song still has consistent texture.

(Demo/alternate version of “The Focus” released last year)

 

The Heart Is A Monster is a fabulous, timeless rock album that I am certain will still sound fresh in twenty years’ time, just as Failure’s previous efforts have done. In a time where ’90s worship is at a fever pitch, the masters have come back to show us all how it’s done. Take notes, kids.

 

NO FLUSH

 

The Heart Is A Monster will be released June 30th through INgrooves Music Group.

 

  • God Splashnspill

    I can always tell when it’s a pumpkin baby article. Not a bad thing one bit.

      • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

        That must feel nice on the bum. Nice and cool.

        • God Splashnspill

          Be one slimey baby after tho that’s fo sho

          • Slimey w/ seeds. Giving the name “Seeds of Vengeance” a whole other meaning.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJERkL8Qmyg

            GL

          • Reference Game:
            ☐ In control
            ☑ Out of control

          • I would be lying if I didn’t have dreams about Facebook last night.

            It was terrifying to say the least.

          • Stanley

            Just pop a Xanax an hour before you plan to visit.

          • There was a LOT going on last night. The computer just kept *bliping* at me! I couldn’t believe all you guys were on there

          • You can turn off sound notifications (and choose which notifications you want to receive). If you don’t it might drive you mad.

          • hmmm good information. To further the confusion, every time there was a notification the live feed thing wasn’t updating… so I had no idea where things were/supposed to show up at. I will have to give it another go

          • Ditto. I’ve been on there for a week or so and I still have no effing clue what is going on. My nose starts to bleed every time I try to refresh a thread . . .

    • HessianHunter

      Is it because I always write about sissy not-metal music? Lol

      • The W.

        Well, you write about metal more than Guacamole does.

        • Even I am more merol than Guacamerol.

          • God Splashnspill

            Everyone is more metal that guacy jim

          • God Merolnspill.

            Link Merolhart.

          • Merolphysical Anus

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Guac Jim is more metal than me.

          • Plastic is more metal than you. (Don’t hit me.)

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Why would I hit you? You’re absolutely right.

          • Tapirs are always punching me. I don’t know why. Is it the “All Tapirs are Cvnts” shirt I wear every Friday?

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            I would never punch you. I prefer stabbing.

          • Dickstabbing maybe. Amiright?

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            If it means that I like stabbing peoples’ dicks with a knife, then yes.

          • That is not what it means.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Then no. I don’t have a dick anymore.

          • You can have one of mine. I’ve got a whole sock drawer full of them. Which is strange, because I only really have one pair of socks . . .

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Thanks, but no thanks (Tom Hanks). I have no need for it.

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            Untrue. Guacy is way more metal than me.

      • God Splashnspill

        It’s just always different. I like it.

  • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

    What’s really a failure is running out of beer at 12:00 in the afternoon…

    • Tairí spotted as new Brujería drummer.

      Enters: “El Asqueroso”.

    • Stanley

      I thought that the picture of you on the previous post was left over from last night. I didn’t realize that you were having a breakfast stout.

      • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

        Nope. Just getting my 4 day weekend started early.

        • Stanley

          Well, in that case, you committed the most egregious school boy error in not making sure the beer fridge was fulling stocked prior to partaking in said beverage consumption.

          • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

            Haha! I have some more beer. Just not the shit I’m in the mood for. I may have to make a beer run here.

          • Running while intoxicated is never a good idea, friend.

            /terriblejokeimsorry

            GL

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            It seems dangerous.

          • The W.

            I have a friend who used to get really drunk on wine and go running the next morning to burn off the hangover.

          • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

            Exactly. It works.

          • God Splashnspill

            But it is hilarious to watch

      • The W.

        Thankfully, I did not find any glass shards in my tequila.

        • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

          Good. I was legitimately worried for you. I care about you Mr. President.

          • The W.

            Haha, I actually took it very easy last night. Just had the one (strong) drink and went to bed at a reasonable time. I haven’t had a hangover in a long time and don’t intend to start again.

          • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

            Good man. Hangover are not fun obviously.

          • In my own experience, if I have a hangover I am in no way, shape, or form able to run at all. There doesn’t hardly ever seem to be a grey area where running sounds in the least bit pleasant!

          • The W.

            Years ago, I got pretty blasted at a Halloween party. We had canoe practice the next day, and my friend could smell all the liquor coming out of my pores as we paddled around the lake.

          • Yikes!

          • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

            I used to work hard labor for 6 years hungover. Sweating is the cure.

          • I am not sure how much sweating is possible laying completely horizontal on a couch. Turn up the heat I guess??? lol

          • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

            I’m telling you, go to some physical activity. It sucks at first but it works later on.

          • let’s visit Funland, i hear @BasedTapir:disqus has a sauna…

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            I want to go to Funland! We can all watch the Slice/Shamrock fight over there!

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            No wrestling in Funland, sorry!

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            It’s not wrestling, it’s MMA!

          • Metaphysical Metaphysical Anus?

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            No, mixed martial arts!

          • I don’t think that is what it is.

          • yes it is! look closer

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            The fight is happening at the Scottrade Center. Why don’t you go to it Jimmy? It’s in St Louis.

          • i seent that! not going because MMA

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            But I’m not there. You can go.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Mr Metaphysical Anus.

          • YOU ARE OUTTA CONTROL

            HAHAHAHAHAALOLOLZ

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Plz George, don’t yell at me!

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            I don’t care what it is, it’s stupid and you’re not watching it in Funland!

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            Yes I am.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            I’m not sure if I’m ready to see your dicks.

          • Dagon

            Come on, Tapir… you know you are.

          • God’a catch em all

            I was pretty sure Finland is imaginary. I made no such country.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            That’s because Satan made Finland.

          • God’a catch em all

            Oh right. I lost a bet.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Don’t know about the Tapir, but my door is always open for you JimmaJam…

          • ah, to see those golden locks in person…

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            This hospitality of yours is going to be your death.
            Vitun Muumitalo.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            ♫the bear’s house is not locked at night, oh moomin ♫

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Hyvää vitun juhannusta! Koita hukkua.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Sitä samaa, vanha kyrmykärsä!

          • Lacertilian

            My life

          • Drinkng a glass of water before bed and in between drinks helps big time. #DeuceProTip

          • The W.

            I used to drink gatorade before bed to restore my electrolytes. Cuz that’s what plants crave.

          • I won’t touch Gatorade anymore. Coconut water= Gaterade without the bullshit.

          • Also a good way to piss yourself in your sleep.

          • Have you pissed yourself in your sleep at any point during the last 25 years?

            HAVE YOU??

          • In 20+ years of alcohol consumption, I’m happy to say I’ve had thousands of piss free incidents. No dookie either.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

      Bvck to the Fvtvre

      • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

        Great Scott!

        • Kevin Nash & Friends

          1.21 gigawatts?

        • KJM

          (tosses roll of toilet paper in the air)

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      The worst part is, all shops close at 12 today.

    • Stanley

      In this picture you look like a bandit that has just stolen a mini-metal-vest.

    • Óðinn
      • Tyree

        FUCK YES!

        • Óðinn

          Agreed. I saw the poster in your photo. Great album. It was on my personal best of 2013 list.

  • I am digging that last track Pmkn bby. Nice write up!

    GL

  • I’m digging this. Good review, Bebé Calabaza.

    Very interesting mix on clean vocals with that twisting guitar+bass sound.

  • Kevin Nash & Friends

    I’m going to listen to this as I’m excited for it.

  • The W.

    Hot dang, Hot Traveler is a hot track.

  • Pumpkin Baby batting 2 for 2 today with 2 HRs and 1,000 RBI’s. Killer write up and definitely enjoying these guys.

  • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

    What the hell is “Vevo” by the way?

    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      It’s a music video service.

      • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

        It sucks.

        • It’s a corporate branding music video service. It’s allied with the biggest record business: Universal, Sony and all that stuff. They just tried to unify the views on Youtube on their content, I think.

          • The W.

            If I’m not mistaken, Vevo has a little higher quality too.

          • I think you’re right. I was talking about the branding of Vevo in Youtube 😛 That’s what I understood.

          • Lacertilian

            Whatever the quality upgrade is, it’s deemed irrelevant as they censor the absolute fuck out of everything. Even words/phrases that aren’t swearing.
            Total garbage.

        • you’ll see the Vevo logo with bands that aren’t hurting for money.

          • Dagon

            This man knows.

  • @HessianHunter:disqus, you’re amazing at reviewing things. i too was hugely into Failure and Hum in the 90’s, so i’m excited to hear the full thing. HAIL PUMPKIN BABY!

    • HessianHunter

      Oh staahhpp eet. *blush*

      • Tyreeks of Putrefaction

        I want to see your stem.

    • The W.

      Am I crazy in hearing a little bit of Muse’s lineage in Failure?

      • you’re the most sane person i know.
        but yes, if you’re talking about their old stuff.

        • The W.

          Wooooord

  • Dagon

    This review was awesome; history lesson, much needed. You knocked it out the park, my friend, and now I gotta listen to both albums from start to finish.

    http://static.fjcdn.com/gifs/Knocked+it+out+of+the+ball+park_7450b0_5039573.gif

    • Comfort and Magnified are also gud

      • Dagon

        *writes notes*

  • HessianHunter

    Proof that this band matters for those of you with 2 minute attention spans.
    Pillowhead: https://youtu.be/NwzneS2_sUU

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    stoner kids—on the edge of destiny
    listen to failure “fantastic planet” in the op–while watching this vid–both full vol–
    -https://youtu.be/mwrip4d1JFc

    • The W.

      You didn’t say “shit on libtards”. How do I know this is the real zzzzz?

      • I had a bit of faith he was actually going to get a account. I guess people need time to turn a new page?

        GL

        • The W.

          I hope he does. He’s a pillar of our community.

      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        dang–it didn’t show the vid–here it is///yeah i’m just gonna let the name be stolen—

        the traag in this scene engage in “meditation”for 7 hrs a nite–leaving their bodies–to travel towards meditative states
        similar to how people watch television now–a potential “higher place”

        -https://youtu.be/Oo4zwiYSGfU

        • You’re def the real Zzzzzzz.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MmWeZHsQzs

          You’re the man/woman/zzzzz!

          Also, La Planète Sauvage>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

            sounds/looks great –with that failure -fantastic planet album

          • I loved that NASA sounds video. I like space stuff. It reminds me how little we are and how mundane are our daily problems. Those stuff and trees/forests/mountains/nature content really reminds me my purposes and what I love in my life.

          • The W.

            That’s why I love hiking, Link. Last Saturday my wife and I sat on top of the Great Sand Dunes and talked about how small we are.

          • I saw the pictures, Dubidubz. Great landscape, even when I don’t like desertic stuff. I’m pretty sure you had a blast.

          • Jock Strap Full Of Macaroni

            I hiked when I was a kid in Puerto Rico, mostly because the area I lived in was almost all hills on top of hills (part of why I never learned to ride a bike). Nowadays, a simple walk will do.

  • Sir Tapir the Based™

    Me trying to dig this band is a failure
    (Gud joke)

    • what were you jamming in high school?

      • Kevin Nash & Friends

        He probably jammed King Crimson and other prog bands.

      • Sir Tapir the Based™

        Not this band, that’s for sure.

        • Kevin Nash & Friends

          Lemme guess, did you jam King Crimson?

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            That’s one band I jammed back then.

          • Jock Strap Full Of Macaroni

            The others were Abba and Journey.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Do I look like JJD to you? I’ve never liked either of those two.

      • Kevin Nash & Friends

        I was jamming a lot of things that I have mentioned before but I also jammed some industrial and some Grateful Dead.

        • KJM

          Saw The Dead 3 times w/Jerry, twice without. I’ve also seen Garcia Band twice.

      • Pants Full Of Spaghetti O’s

        For me, it was Samael, Skinny Puppy, Mentallo And The Fixer, Forma Tadre, Front 242, Haujobb, X Marks The Pedwalk and fuckloads of Project Pitchfork.

        • JamesGrimm

          …….

    • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      I think this band were primed to be the kingsof alt rock—but the “Saturday savior”song–did not fit in with the brand new agenda 21 propaganda program

      cause even though it was “depressing”–it gave an impression that a “Saturday nite love”(savior)could give a person a type of redemption—-which is forbidden according to u.n. population control propaganda
      no “human saviors” allowed–on whatever metaphorical label—in the new msm–only s&m is allowed as love metaphor—-a dehumanized perspective

    • Pants Full Of Spaghetti O’s

      Se haisee.

      • Sir Tapir the Based™

        Juurikin näin.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Puhun suomea. Eläköönpeikot.

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            Mää puren sun kyrvän irti.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Haluan tehdä yhdynnässä Moonsorrow .

          • Sir Tapir the Based™

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. I don’t talk google translate.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I figured that wouldn’t work… I am expressing a deep love for Moonsorrow. Please pass it along to Trollhorn when you see him.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Puhun suomea. Eläköönpeikot.

  • Pants Full Of Spaghetti O’s

    Sad to say, this one is a total flusher.

    • I cannot tell the difference between this and the milquetoast garbage they play on the radio these days.

      • Pants Full Of Spaghetti O’s

        Same here. I think they’re trying to bait us!

  • Sorry Pumpkin Baby–nice write-up as usual–but this band should never appear in the same sentence as the almighty Hum. Not even for the mere sake of situating them chronologically. No sir.

    • HessianHunter

      You’re right – I totally forgot that Hum existed in a vacuum, had no peers, no influences, and no acolytes. They are the eternal Elder Gods of grunge whose mere shadows deigned to visit our mortal realm in the 1990’s, although their music had always been and always will be. It is not actually even music, but the very fabric upon which space-time is hinged, and to suggest otherwise is indeed blasphemy.

      I’ll go do the noble thing and stab myself in the heart with a copy of the “Stars” single compact disc, entering myself into the void once and for all.

      • Jock Strap Full Of Macaroni

        Yeah, not digging it at all, but we’ll still love ya in the morning! PS, I had Hum’s CD back in 1995 and now feeling old as hell. They got back together a few years back, and sold out all the shows in Chicago in under 3 hours. I loved ’em. Sadly didn’t get to see them.

      • That is all I ask.

      • JamesGrimm

        Hum wasent grunge.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    I don’t know much about Failure, but I can see myself liking these new tracks in the right situation.

    Also, I love this song.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fm2uV0Tpts

  • to everyone complaining about the band, they definitely hit a sweet spot for folks who used to listen to them 15-20 years ago. similar to the new Faith No More album, it’s gonna be more important to people who grew up listening to them (whereas it sounds pretty average to me).

  • xengineofdeathx

    Stoked for this. Also, The Life and Times filled a void for me for quite a while when failure wasn’t making music. Lost Bees fucking jams man, check it out!

  • Dig Me Out Podcast

    Check out a track by track dissection of The Heart Is A Monster with drummer Kellii Scott of Failure at Dig Me Out Podcast: http://www.digmeoutpodcast.com/post/126419029571/thiam