FZY – Act 3: The Preacher – Album Review
If there was anyone out there still doubting the love I’ve expressed for FZY over the years here at SBS, surely that must have been silenced at the end of last year when I put his record Act 2: Frozen Youth onto our annual top ten list in the search for our Best New Sound of 2019. Chances are, if you’re reading these pages, you already know that…but what you might not know, is that FZY actually submitted two records to us last year, and choosing between The Bunny And The Cub and Act 2: Frozen Youth was like splitting the finest of hairs…either of those records could have easily made our top ten list for all kinds of justifiable reasons. The facts are the facts – FZY throws himself into the music he makes more than 99.9% of the artists out there…and even if I search my mind and playlists as hard as I can, I still can’t give you the .1% that might overpower him when it comes to execution & performance.
Not that I should need to justify anything else I have to say about this guy by now…if you can’t hear it, I’m sorry, I’m about fixin’ to leave ya behind forever. I’m in FZY’s corner…and I highly recommend y’all join me. All that being said…if you STILL feel like you need proof of everything I’ve said hear…then LISTEN to the very first cut “Atrophy” blow your mind open once it detonates; not only does this mother seriously explode outta your speakers, but FZY is about to reveal that true success lies in dedication and sincere effort. Dude’s no slacker, no slouch…no matter how hazy or slurred-up his speech might have been while he’s been rappin’ in the past over certain tracks, I’m tellin’ ya for a fact – this guy is among the most focused you’ll find out there. He’s a one-man musical army of awesomeness, capable of extraordinary things…like for real, the creativity in FZY is literally and audibly unparalleled, no joke. When you hear the…holy fuckin’ shit of it all…the punishing barnstorming sounds of “Atrophy” and how FZY has taken everything you think you knew about him as an artist and throws it straight into hell’s most brutalizing blender to come out with…Progressive Thrash-Metal? I’d be the first to say that label’s not even half-accurate in terms of summing this whole experience up…if ‘Fucking Genius’ was a genre it would make my life as a reviewer a lot easier right now, but it’s not and you get it – the kitchen sink is even in the mix here…FZY switches up his game from rappin’ to an astonishingly heavy performance that ranges from the wildest of screams to straight-up serene melodies. “Atrophy” likely has more in common with the early kickass days of Incubus than it would with most of the music you know from FZY’s past, though he has certainly made hints towards this eventual progression in his career through the music he’s often played in behind him rappin’ and certain twists he’s put into his tunes in the past. “Atrophy” lets the curtain fully drop, makes no apologies, and after a lengthy atmospheric intro, surges into stunning instrumentation that either gains your attention through your sincere interest, or by sheer force…and I don’t know that you really get to even choose your own adventure in that respect, you’re just instantly sucked right into the grip of this first cut and with its multiple twists, FZY never lets you go. I’ll admit…the shock factor plays a massive role here on that initial listening experience, especially if you’re as familiar with this guy’s work as I am…FZY’s nearing the terrain of a band I completely love called Idiot Pilot with this furious combination of extremely savage sounds. Even though I should always expect the unexpected from this particular artist, a 180-degree turn to start out Act 3: The Preacher was still nothing I could have ever seen coming. To hear how much this switch STILL fits him as an artist is nothing short of remarkable…it’s songs like “Atrophy” that fully prove this guy can do anything he wants when it comes to making music and find complete success in the results. I’ll put it to ya this way, if you think of FZY as a rapper and not an artist, you’re likely missing the whole point to begin with – but for those of you that did, when you hear just how clean & clear his boldest melodic tones are, like how he hits it around the seven-minute mark…or how brutalizing his most seething rage becomes as he growls and screams at us at any given point throughout this first track…I mean…the impact of hearing the difference between this and what you thought you were going to be in for cannot be denied. Killer guitars and drums…all the attention to detail you wanna hear is in the way these layers interact and the atmospheric sounds added in to strengthen the background…and once he gets to the mic, FZY steals the show practically right out from under himself as the vocals surge with power and flex radiant melody.
Grinding into “Psychotherapy” with monstrously gnarly & twisted Metal vibes sending sound scorching in your direction, FZY confirms with this second cut that he sure ain’t fuckin’ around when it comes to Act 3. Here’s what I’m loving and what I really dig…I like that I can hear that Incubus-inspired bend towards the melodic…and I really dig that the way FZY approaches that almost comes out with a much more inherent dankness to it, nearly like an Alice In Chains combination…and I love that when it comes to the end results, you couldn’t accuse this cat of being anything else other than his own damn thing. You might pick up on a similar moment or two, but if you’re looking at the whole scope of a song like “Atrophy” or “Psychotherapy” there’s no way you can pin this down to any one comparison completely. Like…I mean…assuming most of you SURVIVE the beastly spot around the 4:20 mark, I like to think you’ll once again hear what I’m hearing above all things, which is passion, commitment, and ideas; you combine these three factors and give’em everything you got, you get incredible results like these. Is “Psychotherapy” for everyone out there? Hell no! Of course not! Not in a thousand years – no! But that ain’t why you make tunes like this to begin with, nor should it be why you make ANY tunes to begin with…do what you do…do what makes you, YOU…that’s what makes being a musician so rewarding. Having the creative courage and expressive freedom to go after your wildest ambitions and the patience to make sure you get the very best from both the instruments and vocals…that’s what it’s all about…and it’s not an easy place for most artists or bands to actually get to. All I can say is that once you’re there, you know it…you feel it…you are the music and the music is you…sounds kinda zen I’m sure, but whatever, it’s the truth, and even at the extreme end of things like “Psychotherapy” thrives in, it still proves the point if not even more-so. FZY pretty much plays the high-up lord of all chaos on this second cut, taking what seems to be a fairly serene beginning and expanding everything into mammoth proportions. Rad whispered vocals, the guitars are off-the-charts awesome…the drums remain a main staple of the badassery that makes the magic in FZY’s music work so well in all styles he chooses – and you gotta dig that malevolent sound just past the three minute mark…how wicked is that? Overall the song kinda morphs into a 2000-era style of Alt-Metal around there, putting the harmony on the surface and the menace just underneath it, before exploding very soon afterwards. Time-wise, I’d be willing to bet that there’s almost a striking balance between the more low-key and subtle moments as there are explosive ones…but objective reality tells me most will leave this tune remembering its most vicious moments and consider “Psychotherapy” to be one of those savage cuts they reach for when they want something 100% hard AF. This track certainly ain’t gonna let ya down in that regard, or any other really.
Like a lot of what FZY tends to create in how each layer responds to another, the tracks on this record work the same way – the glide into “Archenemy” feels insightfully natural as you exit out of “Psychotherapy,” as intended I’m sure. At nearly eleven-minutes in length, it’s hardly an afterthought, so don’t get me wrong here…it plays like a continuation from the song before for sure, but this is another whole new chapter of ideas on display in “Archenemy.” FZY really gets his guitar on here, and doesn’t quite growl or scream at us nearly as much as he’s been doing on the first couple tracks; instead, this time around, he lets the instrumentation do the talking for him…and this…THIS…was a spectacular move and a serious highlight on Act 3: The Preacher. I don’t know where this guy got his chops or what planet FZY really comes from…but the solo he puts in between the third and six minute should drop your jaws and open your ears in amazement – this is otherworldly good. Around the seventh-minute, the wall of sound can no longer be held contained; FZY detonates and explodes with the heavy fury and scathing ferociousness you’d fuckin’ find in a Meshuggah tune. “Archenemy” might appear friendly and comforting at first when you climb aboard at the beginning, but make no mistake, with nearly eleven minutes of space to work his dark magic and mayhem, FZY continues to amp-up the intensity of this epic track right to the very end. Don’t be fooled for one second by the way he shifts into what would be the most easily accessible hooks on the album so far for a brief moment towards the end – things are NEVER that simple when it comes to FZY’s music and he quickly switches it up again on ya to keep the instability in the structure the most constant & consistent aspect of the song. For the average set of ears out there listening, the only thing they CAN hold onto is the fact that nothing is permanent…FZY rarely writes in a typical verse/chorus/verse to begin with (and when he has, he’s knocked it ridiculously far outta the park with EASE) – it’s the ambitious way he composes and creates such compelling material that’s bound to keep people like me and many others coming back for more. Short of anything involving Mike Patton, rarely do you find the powerful diversity and contrast working so well, music that makes such a bold artistic statement, or an artist that roams through such shifting musical terrain with what seems to be fearless confidence and wide array of extraordinarily organic skills. I’m severely impressed with FZY once again…not only does he completely fill nearly eleven minutes with nothing but wall-to-wall audio entertainment for ya, but this one track alone also speaks strongly on behalf of how limitless his imagination can be & how far his talents can carry him towards bringing all his ideas raging to life like this. You’ll go through the highs, the lows, and everything in between on “Psychotherapy” – like I said, you end up somewhere near Meshuggah, but really, you started somewhere much closer to the Beta Band…aka the equivalent of seven grand canyons of distance in the middle of these two poles of musical measurement. Yet somehow FZY crosses it all, warps your world in the process, and keeps us listening like every single moment contains our favorite part…which of course can’t be the case, but it’s just that interesting to travel the distance from point-A to point-B of “Psychotherapy” that it sure feels that way. Bonus points for the extended time & space the guitar solo gets in this cut though…beyond awesome and likely my favorite moment of all in the instrumentation on this record, which is ALL killer, no filler.
People just ain’t doin’ what this cat is doin’ – that much I can tell ya for sure. I listen to a track like “Infection” and I can’t even get ninety-seconds in without the thought crossing my head that FZY is still miles ahead of the game when it comes to what’ll likely make sense to most out there. I have no doubt that his willingness to cross the threshold from what the majority of listeners might be comfortable with and take us into the punishing depths of seriously progressive sound that’ll seem like complete chaos to some people, is fully intentional…I think FZY lives for creating music that’ll keep people scratching their heads and wondering WTF they just listened to. And personally, I love that. I think songs like “Infection” are incredibly challenging to hang with for most ears out there – and obviously, the demands that would have been made upon its creator would have also been monumental. From timing switches to style transitions, FZY conjures up one of the most beastly cuts in his catalog so far with “Infection” – and part of you will wonder if the clouds hanging overhead of this track are ever gonna part or if we’re all strapped in for a nine-plus minute ride without an ounce of musical mercy…and then it happens. As we hit the sixth minute, “Infection” completely lightens up its spirit with a wickedly playful & jazzy moment in the breakdown, before snapping back into place nearly two-minutes later to deliver on one of the most riotous finales of any song on this record. You want wild? Because this is what it sounds like y’all. FZY shows brilliant innovation throughout “Infection” and from texture to tone, takes you on an extreme journey from one side of music to the other, keeping the progressive composition in-check and not becoming too ‘prog’ with jagged metal hooks up front and melodic ones waitin’ in the middle for ya…nothing too sing-along by any measure of course, but tangible moments listeners can latch onto. With as many twists & turns as you’ll find in FZY’s new record, believe me, many people out there will be searching for a goddamn life-raft…something, anything to hang onto in the mammoth swell & storming sound created on Act 3: The Preacher – sometimes, it’s downright scary what this guy can accomplish.
Case in point – “Demon Within.” You wanna hear one of the GREATEST pauses you’ll hear in music this year, possibly ever? Listen to that slight moment of hesitation as this track begins…you know the explosion is coming based on everything you’ve heard on this record so far…so naturally, you start to brace yourself, lest ya get blown over entirely by the air being pushed through your speakers alongside the force of the sound FZY creates. Listen to the tone in the guitars around the 1:45 spot heading into the second minute…good LORD, this demon-filled track is stuffed with enticing & electrifying sound ain’t it? Love the sound of the vocals on this track and the distance that exists between the layers, love the way the guitars spread out and the atmospherically-inclined approach to the mic begins to take over. Keep in mind, many of the transitions on this record have led us into savage and scorched terrain; to have a moment or two to collect our thoughts and breathe for a second really ain’t such a bad thing, you feelin’ me? Of all tracks where you’ll find that moment to reflect, “Demon Within” seems to be the one; certainly as malicious as the title would imply as it begins, but this track also morphs into the album’s most significantly accessible moments overall. In fact, I’d be will to bet that, as long as most of you made it through the first two minutes without turning all the lights on in your house, you’d stand a great chance of loving the vast majority of this cut afterwards. At least until the final thirty seconds or so, where FZY sparks back into a full blaze of rage and thunderous fury that should make sure that the brown pants you’re likely wearing come into good use. What a savagely surprising record this has been!
Listening to the ragged & jagged way FZY snags us with sound coming at us from all angles as the last song “Riptide” begins actually reminded me quite a bit of the band Hella, which I also love. Eventually the vocals that FZY puts in will create that separation between the two…but if you consider the high-degree of extreme sounds and seemingly reckless-but-controlled movements scattered so furiously throughout the music…Hella really ain’t too far off the mark as a comparison. When FZY goes hard, he’s ALL-IN every single time – and if you somehow weren’t convinced yet, he’ll make sure you are by the very end with “Riptide” as he takes his energy off the charts and into the underworld to summon the power required to fuel this last cut’s most beastly moments. This guy has given us no quarter throughout the majority of this album and he’s not about to start backing off now right before it’s all over – and from the inspired vocal melodies to the murk of his lyrics, “Riptide” finishes Act 3: The Preacher like FZY’s whole fuckin’ life depended on this album. And maybe it did…one of the last things you’ll hear on this album is a shovel into dirt, digging…something…I don’t know that we get to fully know what this hole is for…but maybe by the end of these six tunes, the pact with the Big Red Horns has run its course, and FZY’s luck has run out. Or maybe the payment of his soul in exchange for his downright superhuman musical powers has finally come due, and the only accepted form of credit is a very long dirtnap – we just don’t know! I find it strange that, no matter which style of music that FZY seems to take on…that at the end of every record of his that I listen to, one of my first thoughts is always, “well fuck, I’m sure glad he survived creating that for us all to enjoy,” followed closely by being thankful I survived listening to it. The man is savagely talented in ways I can’t even begin to explain and pushes the boundaries of music forward more than most artists ever will in one lifetime…and now he’s proved that no genre is ever safe. You want rappin? He’s got it locked. You want instrumentation? Dude’s a freakin’ genius-level musician. Double-check that. You want all-out war on wax and Metal determined to destroy you?
Well…now we know he’s got that in his never-ending bag of tricks & talent too, now don’t we.
That last part’s not a question, it’s a statement. So is a record like this. Well done FZY.
Find music by FZY at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5BRYHAcjGVPXQQv4raRSIS
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