The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril
posted on 6/2006 By:
I review the lion’s share of the post-rock/metal/whatever albums that pass through the doors at MetalReview, which is fine with me, as I dig the genre, and besides that, it seems to rarely produce out and out stinkers. Still, I’m having a bit of a run on it these days, having just finished a review of Generation of Vipers’ Grace (good album, check ‘em out), and having the new Cult of Luna album sitting in my queue. In between is the second effort from Boston’s Constants, and it’d be tough to find two albums that sit under the same genre umbrella that are as disparate as Grace and The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril. While the metal community is most familiar (and welcoming) to bands like Neurosis and Isis, who rely on a harsh starkness and/or are an outgrowth of the sludge movement, the indie rock world has also been busy planting flags in the genre’s fertile ground. It makes sense of course, especially given the importance of Slint’s 1991 classic Spiderland to the genesis of the movement. Truthfully, I’m not familiar enough with that side of the fence to know whether the indie rock side of the movement is becoming as heavily saturated as its metal counterpart, but I can tell you that bands like Explosions in the Sky, Mono, Godspeed You Black Emperor/Silver Mount Zion, Mogwai, and The For Carnation have put their own stamp on the genre while contributing some fantastic music.
The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril without a doubt belongs in the indie side of the post-rock movement, and readers that take an interest in Constants are likely to do so out of an interest in indie rock rather than metal, or even post-rock/metal. Although the band has a quasi-spacey quality and uses occasional ambient elements, at its heart, Constants’ style is substantially more melodic and approachable than is typically heard. The songs are long, but eschew the sprawling landscapes and periods of sparseness that typically mark the genre. Instead, the band takes a more focused approach, which allows nearly every twist in the lengthy compositions to support the major theme of the track. Add actual singing (gasp) and a melodic emotiveness, and The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril feels an awful lot like an alterna-pop album. A highly developed and well executed one, but a pop album just the same. And it’s actually a quite competent one. It’s not entirely up my alley—I don’t usually like my filth this clean—but the album is more satisfying from an indie rock perspective than a post-metal one. Guitarist Will Benoit leans pretty heavily on his delay pedal, and it seems likely he has a well-worn copy of The Joshua Tree somewhere around the house. This technique allows the band to build upon Benoit’s spiraling, echoing, spacey melodies, which along with his vocals, gives the material some serious hook. The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril is one of those albums that’s safe to play in mixed musical company, as it has enough accessible hooks and conventional elements to appeal to the average listener, but includes enough intricacies and structural curiosities to keep the more discernable fans entertained. The four tracks on the album total thirty-seven minutes, so although they’re calling this an EP, it’s a damn generous one. The thirteen-minute title track is the longest of the bunch, and although the material is consistently solid throughout the album, this track might be just a tad overlong. A bigass marathon track almost always does the trick for me, but within the context of this album, and considering the band’s melodic sensibilities, the seven-to-nine minute range seems to hit their sweet spot. The slow diving “Walking Dead in East Texas” is the highlight of the set for me. Closer “When Stars Dilate” is easily the most aggressive track, and starts well with a heavy drum and bass intro and spacey guitar ambience. As the track breaks midway and rebuilds from silence behind Benoit’s echoing guitar lines, I was vaguely reminded of Van Halen’s “Cathedral” from 1982’s Diver Down, and I smiled at what an old and blue collar comparison I was making. And that’s what this all boils down to—The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril is a solid and worthwhile album, but one which isn’t really made for me. See for yourself.
Register to post comments.