In the three years that they have been together as a band, Liverpool proggers FOES have been described repeatedly as being ‘cinematic’ due to the fleshed-out musical experience their sounds provide.
“We always make things very textured in the studio because we like big soundscapes,” explains guitarist Joe Danher. “With visualising, if it can help to inspire the music then that’s exactly the kind of thing we wanted it to be: an experience with the song. It should never be throwaway.”
Danher is speaking to Prog days after the completion of the final master of FOES’ full-length debut The Summit Lies Skyward, and there’s real conviction behind his words. The album is grand in its scope, summoning huge landscapes behind a slick, Steven Wilson-esque vocal delivery, and the record’s first single, The Everest, is a masterpiece of slow-burn melancholia, with all the understated theatricality of Karnivool.
We always make things very textured in the studio because we like big soundscapes.
As Danher explains: “The Everest is based on something that was very personal to Chris [Mackrill, vocals/guitar]. It’s a fairly guarded topic, but he wanted to bring something positive out of it. It’s one of his most personal songs and it does stem from something that happened to him.
“I think we start to make visual connections with the tracks even earlier than the recording process. Usually once the musical core is in place, we look to connect this with the lyrics and assign a title accordingly, and that’s where those ideas factor in. There’s this track on the new album called Young Sovereign which is a good example of this. Broadly, the song is about pomposity, and we felt the resulting title was a nice visual demonstration of that.”
FOES, who are completed by Josh Catchpole and James Lorenzo on bass and drums respectively, were introduced by mutual friends in 2013 as their former projects were winding down.
“It was a weirdly pessimistic first meeting,” laughs Danher. “We just weren’t sure if it was going to work or not because those previous projects had just been so different. Weirdly though, it was very natural when we jammed out that first idea – it came together very organically.”
The Liverpudlians went on to release two EPs in quick succession to acclaim. At the start of the year they then signed to tech metal monolith Basick Records, which Danher says “felt like a natural home to me”.
Bringing TesseracT axeman Acle Kahney on board to master their release and turn it into a “cohesive body of work” was their final masterstroke for The Summit Lies Skyward. In doing so, they’ve realised their cinematic potential, with a release of Lord Of The Rings-size proportions.
|Chris Mackrill (vocals/guitar), Josh Catchpole (bass), James Lorenzo (drums), Joe Danher (guitar)|
|Oscar-worthy technical progressive rock bordered by grandstanding soundscapes|
|The Summit Lies Skyward is out on October 7 via Basick|