‘Fear Caller’ album review
album: Fear Caller
artist: The Almost
genre: rock & roll
release date: October 18, 2019
star rating: five out of five
review by Levi Yager
In what I’m sure is a surprise to most, The Almost is resurrected in 2019 with a new LP in tow. I never would’ve guessed it, but I’m definitely not complaining. The record, titled Fear Caller, is some of the band’s best work.
With Fear Caller, The Almost utilizes various, well-placed textures that amplify the atmosphere of the album. It all comes together as an utterly-engrossing fever dream that occasionally breaks into cold sweats of unrestrained rock. Fear Caller may feel rough around the edges at times, in multiple aspects, but this isn’t really a negative quality as much as a characteristic of the overall creative direction.
One of the greatest strengths this record boasts is that each song is pretty distinct; you won’t get bored easily. The tracklisting enhances this fact: it often goes back and forth between slow-burners and blazing rockers. “Chokehold” is the first song on the list, and it’s a little more on the slow side. More specifically, I’d say it’s one that focuses on the build – and pulls it off with flying colors. Aptly named, “Chokehold” grabs hold of the listener and doesn’t let go. “I Want It Real” then ramps things up a bit, beginning with quick-paced drums and guitars, yet it adds complexity by scaling back in the chorus. The main highlight of “I Want It Real” is its explosive bridge with fantastic drums that’ll no doubt get you on board if you weren’t already. As I mentioned before, this tug-of-war between driving moments and mellower parts is woven throughout Fear Caller and effectively allures the listener from track to track.
A couple of my personal favorites are later in the album. “I Think I Am” is track number seven, and it features a loud, indulgent chorus set up perfectly by spacious, moody verses. The lyric-writing is great, too. The line, “No man is an island, but I think I am,” is the song’s namesake, and it will float around your brain long after the song has ended. A cover of “In God’s Country,” originally by U2, is the ninth song, and The Almost breathes vibrant, new life into the classic cut from The Joshua Tree here. Incidentally, Joshua Tree is actually where frontman Aaron Gillespie recorded Fear Caller; the inclusion of this song was inspired by the area and the eponymous U2 album. Additionally, major themes in Fear Caller’s lyrics and art incorporate Native American myths that Gillespie dug into during his experiences in Joshua Tree. This is unquestionably a record that was shaped by its surroundings.
The Almost wraps up Fear Caller in epic form with the one-two punch of its title track and “Why Do You Bother Me.” The title track is a short one, clocking in at just over two minutes, and it builds to its conclusion with yells and worn keys. “Fear Caller” dramatically sets the stage for “Why Do You Bother Me” to bring the final curtain down. The latter is a haunting, gut-wrenching closer that showcases high vocals belted full-force by Gillespie and solemn, yet bold instrumentation in the chorus. This is complemented by a quieter approach in the verses. It’s simply a breathtaking end to an incredible album.
If you’re looking for an exceptionally solid stack of rock songs, look no further. Fear Caller is not just a return for The Almost – but a welcome one that itself is worth returning to many times over. It’s harsh at times, sickly sweet at others, and it has that signature jilted edge present on earlier The Almost records. You won’t want to miss it.