At Fates Mercy
Release Date: Out Now
Review By Nathan Eden
I should start off by assuring new listeners that At Fates Mercy knows how to pen decent hardcore tunes better than they know their grammar. Chapters contains all the elements this style of music requires to appeal to their audience. From the light and shade dynamic of the vocals, the punchy yet precise musicianship, to the emotional lyrics clearly not afflicted by alexithymia, this is a band who are, quite simply, very good at what they do.
Formed in the City of Churches in 2008, the Adelaide quartet have evolved through a few line-up changes to hone their sound and deliver some pretty kick-ass tunes. Aided by a boost from Triple J Unearthed and the strength of their 2013 single and video ‘Setting Darkness On Fire’, At Fates Mercy have shared the stage with bands of the ilk of In Hearts Wake and are currently touring Australia with American post-hardcore merchants, Chiodos.
Chapters is an eight track release although, if we shave off the brooding intro, seven tracks of well-considered post-hardcore goodness. The line-up, which recorded the album consists of Benn Cox on vocals, guitarists Jim Covino and Jimmy Hurford, Ben Howlett on bass and drummer Will Hackett. Whilst there is little musical wizardry, that isn’t Chapters’ deal. The sound is very solid and competent with perhaps the band’s strength being their ability to create well-constructed arrangements ensuring the album flows seamlessly throughout. I must point out that this is not a bad thing. There are a few surprises along the way, which mostly stem from points where the aggression knob is turned up a little.
Speaking of aggression, the highlight for me is the vocals of Benn Cox on tracks such as the first song-proper, ‘Aftermath’, and the short but not-so-sweet hammer of ‘Rage’. His raging scream is expertly countered with mature-sounding clean vocal melodies, providing substance and sophistication a rung or two above contemporaries.
Musically, the band are on the right track in terms of displaying stabs of individuality within a consistent sound. ‘The Release’ is a great example of AFM’s ability to gel a hammering rhythm section and solid guitar riffs with mood-building atmospherics. Recorded at Melbourne’s “The Studio In The City”, the production of the album compliments its musical cohesion by guiding it in the direction it seeks to head.
At Fates Mercy will no doubt grow and evolve further with the experience of playing together as time goes on. Testament to the energy of their live show is a growing fan base who will definitely dig this release. Some in the heavy music-listening community might find much of this album a little restrained however, hardcore fans are sometimes a bit like a seasoned drinker in his local pub; why offer a fancy boutique beer when all he wants is a VB? In summation, AFM brew VB better than most in the industry.