Doing exactly what a great second album should, Black Foxxes continue on their ascent up the ranks of British rock in impressive style.
An aggressive boot through the door if ever there were one, Exeter trio Black Foxxes emphatically arrived in 2016 with their stunning debut album I’m Not Well. In the process, the three-piece firmly placed themselves among the props of the current British rock revival, yet arguably they remain one of the more underrated and unsung players in the scene. Less than two years later however, they’re back with Reiði, a different, yet familiar collection of songs which serves to highlight one of the brightest prospects in British music.
Opening track ‘Breathe’ is a softer and quieter opener, which builds in what is becoming something of a signature move for the band, exploding late on, akin to tracks of their’s such as ‘Pines’. Listen and be amazed when you realise that Black Foxxes are only a three piece, on Reiði they sound as huge as ever. ‘Manic in Me’ is a much rougher cut and showcases one of the band’s most alluring and unique elements, guitarist and singer Mark Holley‘s incredible vocal range; screeching like a siren one minute, shifting gears to downbeat melancholy the next. The previously released ‘Saela’ is a terrific, yet different turn, a seemingly softer track, yet still bearing that Black Foxxes signature churn, building itself upon Tristan Jane’s grinding bass and Ant Thornton’s straight-laced drums.
Reiði is immediately recognisable as a much more introspective album, bearing a tamer instrumental side but with a darker lyrical edge, as would be expected given Holley’s openness over his battle with Crohn’s disease and the emotional depths the trio are willing to plunge to for their art. It’s far more melodic, a no nonsense approach with less of the instrumentally heavy approach and crashing, pure noise sound which I’m Not Well bore. It shows the band’s much firmer grasp on their songwriting.
‘Oh, It Had To Be You’ is one of the band’s most interesting tracks to date. Almost prog rock like in its approach as it packs in plenty of instrumental variety and shifts, it perfectly encapsulates the new expansive edge to the band on Reiði. But the familiarity is still present as ‘JOY’ recalls the ferocity of the likes of their heavy hitting signature track ‘Husk’, Holley’s vocals as aggressive and cathartic as ever as he screams “Come call me erasable”. His anger and vehemence continues on in ‘Flowers’, a deceptively happily named track, far from the case in reality as Holley cries out “I am rage/I am a castaway/I am unusable/I am fear” before calling out “Yeah I’m on the edge”, Black Foxxes sounding as heavy and thunderous as ever. Honestly, how any three-piece can sound this incredible is beyond me.
Reiði does exactly what a great second album should do; it keeps the band’s sound familiar to the first album, yet shakes the formula up enough and packs more than enough variety so as to not become stale. Whilst there may be a few filler tracks along the way, Reiði is an undeniably ambitious album from Black Foxxes, something that not many bands can claim to have attempted at this stage in their careers.
Reiði is available now via Spinefarm Records