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Album Review: Failure – The Heart Is A Monster

After almost two decades, Failure return from a Fantastic Planet and offer an introspective theme filled with guitar effects and ambiance.



Text Review:

Picking up from where you left off can sometimes be difficult when regarding music, especially when your last proof of work was 19 years ago.  It goes beyond fans waiting patiently for your next work but crosses into territory of introducing a new generation to your music, and in some cases, introducing the children of your old fans to what they use to listen to.

The last time we heard the atmospheric galactic rock of Failure was 1996’s Fantastic Planet.  After their disbanding it truly felt like you would be getting your hopes up to hear the sounds of Failure again.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere in 2014, news broke that the band has reformed and would be supporting Tool on their upcoming tour.  On top of that, we would be receiving a new album in 2015.

The only way I can explain the sound of Failure to someone who hasn’t heard is that they sound like the distant cousin to the grunge and industrial surge of the early 90’s.  Completely atmospheric backgrounds, guitar effects, and extensive sound production are included in almost every second of their music.

So after a successful pledgemusic campaign, we have The Heart is a Monster, an 18 track opus continuing the creative legacy that Failure is known for.  In a quote from Greg Edwards discussing the evolution in albums and story, he said that:

“Thematically we’ve moved from the outer space of “Fantastic Planet” to inner space…from the dislocation of one’s identity to the complete erasing of it by sleep and dreams.  I think we’ve used instrumentation in the service of mood and emotion to an even greater degree than on our previous records.”

Edward’s quote was proven in full effect with the album’s first single and the first new song from Failure in over 15 years,  Hot Traveler.  In many ways this song feels completely identifiable to Failure and absolutely unique to the rock scene.

The string bending and guitar effects are what define this song.  You can tell just by the first 30 seconds how Failure uses the tech and creativity in guitar effects to create the sound they want.  Lyrically it really grows on you with the chorus and hearing the echo fade of Ken Andrews vocals add a level of grit and groove to the song that most singers couldn’t match if they tried.


There are great songs like Hot Traveler in The Heart is a Monster, but what many people may never hear unless they listen to the album in full is the segues that connect everything together.  While many albums will blend the mood of each song to fit a certain flow, Failure uses full Segues to connect each track much like sinews connect muscle to bone.

The flow and groove from these seques is what separate this album from many other current releases in today’s market.  It’s very rare and ambitious to fill an album with tracks focusing just on setting a mood and connecting point a to point b, but Failure has proven that it can work beautifully.

These segues do a better job of setting up an atmosphere and theme in music than many soundtrack composures and score writers could create with years of work.  Like what I said about sinews, the main tracks of this album would not be complete or be able to move without these segues.

I admit there are a few moments where the static and note resonance can be a bit overwhelming.  There are definitely tracks that will be played more than others.  But the truth is that this album is one that is meant to be played in entirety from beginning to end.  Over an hour of music and setting is offered and should be taken in as a whole.

There are many bands who you can compare one another to as soon as you hear them.  In the case of Failure, it’s very difficult to describe their sound by comparing them to another group because they are completely unique in their craft.  Originality can be rare in a genre filled with nu-metal and screaming, but Failure have proven they can still be successful at it.

Overall, The Heart Is A Monster is the perfect follow up to Fantastic Planet, even if it comes 19 years later.  Whether Failure is a blast from your past, or is something that is brand new to you, fans of thematic and atmospheric rock will not be disappointed here.