Album Reviews

Midas Fall – The Menagerie Inside

(Monotreme) UK release date: 4 September 2015

Midas Fall - The Menagerie Inside Midas Fall’s third album finds them further honing their craft, which for the uninitiated, is a finely crafted fusion of post-rock, electronica and shoegaze. This time around they’re exploring the biting point between quiet and considered introspection and tightly controlled bombast.

The band differs from many of the usual purveyors of undulating quiet-loud-quiet vistas by having the vocals of Elizabeth Heaton as the focal point. There are many moments across the album that feature sweeping guitars, elegant flourishes and driving drums, but their main purpose is to provide the Turneresque wash on the canvas for Heaton’s emotional outpourings to stand out on like a fierce blob of red paint. Her place in these songs alternates frequently. When she’s really belting it out she’s hard to ignore, her voice possesses a theatrical quality that demands attention.

Nowhere is this more evident that on the opening track Push a song that initially appears to be an exercise grandiosity. Its hammered piano chord comes on like a crescendo from a Meatloaf saga which is something of a surprise, because Midas Fall rarely venture into the realm of overblown epics. As expansive as many of these songs are, they tend to smoulder, giving the impression that they’re about to explode into life, before quickly pulling back and becoming introverted. Push never really reaches a climax, though it tries hard as the band builds momentum. As they reach its tumultuous conclusion, they’re willing her on, but Heaton holds back and doesn’t let go. It’s tempting to suggest that as a result it’s rather unsatisfying, but it is a masterclass in dynamics and operates as something of a tease for what’s to come.

Afterthought is considerably more forceful and benefits as a result. The guitars aren’t as steeped in reverb, and the bass patterns create a pulsing impetus that drives Heaton to the edge of her emotional range. There’s still something a little theatrical about it all, which calls to mind the emo pageantry of Evanescence (let’s not have the “are Evanescence emo?” conversation; for the purposes of this part of the review, they are), but that’s no bad thing and at least there’s a satisfying pay off.

Things really get moving with Circus Performer, a song that feels as if it was discovered bit by bit by the band. There’s no template at work here, instead it meanders through various sections, ebbing and flowing. At times it’s emotionally charged and haunting, at others, delicate and utterly beautiful. Rowan Burns’ guitar work is inspired, as he manoeuvres between stabbing distorted interjections, spidery new-wave riffs that drive the verses, and elegant echoing reverb and delay drenched clouds of sound.

The Morning Asked And I Said No is perhaps the greatest encapsulation of what Midas Fall do so well. It starts off with a guitar melody that sounds like a hazy memory of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, and slowly creeps into life as Heaton initially sets her vocals to introspective. The band snakes its way through understated passages of exposition and it is here that Heaton shines. Her voice is more suited to elegance, The Morning Asked has that in abundance, and it’s here that the band and Heaton come together most successfully. A Song Built From Scraps Of Paper comes close to matching the sheer grandeur of The Morning Asked, but it’s the band that commands the attention, most notably the delicate piano and shimmering guitars. Closing track Holes. meanwhile, gives drummer Steven Pellatt a chance to shine.

This is a solid (though not quite gold) outing from Midas Fall. When they’re in the midst of hazy exposition they really play to their strengths and are at times quite breathtaking, but the problem with attempting to marry bombast to introspection is that an element of abandonment is required. Sometimes it feels as if they’re holding back a little too much.

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Midas Fall – The Menagerie Inside