FOES in Manchester live review

The Colour Line join FOES in Manchester.

A crowd watching a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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The technical edge in The Colour Line’s sound, while pronounced on record, is less evident live. That’s not because the band aren’t a tight live unit – they are razor sharp – but simply because nobody can pay attention to the technicality of riffs when a guitarist is playing them four inches from their face. With both guitarists wading deep into the crowd, and a small but enthusiastic number of the audience responding by forming a mosh pit around them, the set flies by in a blur of staccato mathcore riffs and tight breakdowns.

FOES – short for Fall Of Every Sparrow – couldn’t really be more different from their labelmates. Freshly signed to Basick Records, they buck the trend of the majority of the bands on the label by drawing more from post-rock and progressive rock than technical metal, even if their songs are far from simple. FOES’ stagecraft is impeccable, and the chemistry in the band is as genuine as their playing is tight. Aided by unstoppable drummer James Lorenzo, the band play with a forcefulness and drive that never relents, even in their restrained and pensive moments – of which there are many.

New single Beautiful Fiction is an early highlight, mixing shades of progressive bands like Karnivool with atmospheric alt rock and powerful, drop-tuned riffs. It gives a tantalising insight into where the band might be going with their forthcoming debut record, but the majority of the material is drawn from their existing EPs, like atmospheric rocker Rival Thrones from last year’s Antecedence EP. Although the new material manages to blend their heavy and ethereal sides more effectively, when they stick to just one of these directions the effect is no less dramatic. No Sleepers Verse is a powerhouse of what a modern, post-rock influenced ballad can feel like. Though there’s echoes of genre classics like Oceansize’s Music For A Nurse, it’s a sound very much their own.

The band’s closing song, The First Rook To Flee As The Thunder Rolls In, takes a similar tack, even if it is more unapologetically rock. Building from an alt rock template, the track expands on themes and builds layers until it breaks loose, closing on powerful riffing that recalls mid-90s Tool or Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree.

Wearing their influences on their collective sleeve, it might appear as if FOES lack originality; the opposite, however, is true. They’re one of the most exciting and accessible genre-blending progressive rock bands of recent years, and their sound is both unique and instantly recognisable. With their star on the rise, this is probably one of the last chances to see them in such an intimate venue.