Review by Seth Wood
Back in November 2011, I first discovered For All I Am, a four-piece metal band from Chicago, who at the time was touring with Our Last Night. Around the time their first album was released, I heard the news that my band would be opening for them and Our Last Night. Having never heard of For All I Am before (which was the case for most people because at that point, the band had not released much of anything), I decided to use the great powers of Spotify to check out their EP, Lone Wolf, one day during the grueling hour-long drive to Aurora for band practice. About ten seconds after pressing play, I found myself manically banging my head and slamming my first on the dashboard at an intensity that is downright inappropriate for someone behind the wheel. I listened to that album everyday leading up to the show, where For All I Am’s set was hindered by some severe technical issues but was still very fun to watch.
Now, a few years later, For All I Am is releasing their second full-length album, No Home, on InVogue Records (Being as an Ocean, Famous Last Words). Their previous LP, Skinwalker, was a very good full-length, which showed the band’s willingness to try new things. The album showed the band trying to incorporate more singing into their songs, specifically in the choruses, and also featured more synth and electronic percussion sounds. That being said, more than a few of the songs sounded the same, and the pleasure it gave the listener was sort of hit-or-miss.
No Home does not fall to any such weaknesses. The jump that F.A.I.A. has made from Skinwalker to No Home is literally amazing. Not only has the band continued to try out new song structures and styles, but they have done so in a way that rids their music of the shortcomings heard on their first LP. The choruses no longer sound so predictable, and are not always followed by breakdowns as is the case on Skinwalker. The vocal melodies are surprising in the best way, moving to unexpected notes and rhythms (listen to the end of the chorus in “Six Souls”). My favorite addition to the vocals is the use of more guttural singing (a sort of midway point between singing and screaming, used by vocalists like M. Shadows), heard most prominently on “Tunnel Vision” and “Slip-up.”
Musically, guitarist Tom Crisp continues to keep things interesting. This album is filled with those dirty, dissonant chords that could turn any lullaby into a hellish din. These chords take this album to a darker place than the former, and the result is a more energizing experience for the audience.
The band continues to make use of synthesized sounds in their music, which a lot of metal bands are doing now; however, F.A.I.A. uses these sounds in a very subtle way that really complements the instruments. The synthy stuff is never the emphasis of a song, but instead adds a tonality to what the band is already doing. This is the sort of thing you see only from very talented musicians—subtle little additions that elevate a nice riff to a dramatic moment that is felt by the listeners.
The band’s effort in creating No Home proves that For All I Am cares very much about their music. They claim on their Facebook page that they are very proud of this album, and they certainly should be.
For All I Am is currently on the road, and will be headlining The Skatuary in Englewood on October 29th. They have also announced that they will be touring with label-mates Famous Last Words in November and December of this year.
Listen to "Six Souls" and "Young Grave"