All of the classic gene trappings of noodlesome, math-infused post-rock are present and correct here. Chiming guitars, slow builds and big crescendos that will inevitably invoke comparisons to Explosions in the Sky are certainly at the core of the sound on ‘Underdog Underfoot’, the follow-up to their 2009 debut album ‘Red Eyes Unravelling’. But like the most exciting exemplifications of what is, by now, a vast and sprawling genre that’s been infinitely cross-pollinated, Flies are Spies from Hell have a real edge and place rock dynamics. As such, they call to mind bands like Andsoiwatchyoufromafar and A Swarm of the Sun as well as early Vessels.
It’s hard to fault the musicianship, or the wide-ranging style and overall ambition of the album, which is consistent throughout, but contains some genuinely outstanding moments.
The coupling of ‘Imagine Your Murder’ and ‘Slow Heat Death’ which opens the album does so in confident style. ‘Fail Better’ is an uptempo number with a roiling piano and a surging rush of guitar: it’s also spectacularly grand and theatrical without being pompous.
They know how to pace things, too: the mellow, piano-led near-ambience of ‘Last Dust Settled’ provides a perfectly-placed interlude. Elsewhere, prog influences leak into tracks like ‘Hammer Without Hand’, and the nine-minute epic that is ‘Beg for Sleep’, with its multiple movements, transitions between classic, reverby climax-led post-rock and moments that are altogether more direct and forceful.
In combining both cerebral, chin-stroking serious post-rock with passages where they really cut loose and rock out, Flies are Spies from Hell have created an instrumental album where the absence of vocals really isn’t an issue. Solid, dynamic and exhilarating, they’re unlikely to remain underdogs for long if they keep it up.
Flies are Spies from Hell Online