Every Friday, I scour the internet for new music releases. The weekly Friday Awards will highlight my favorite discovery each week, with a special emphasis on artists that are new, new-ish, or new to me.
February 7, 2020 was bound to be dedicated to one album — one of my most anticipated albums of the year: Cycle of Suffering by Sylosis. And it did not disappoint! As Sylosis’s first album since 2015, it was a wonderful return from potentially my favorite UK metal band.
Little did I know, however, that my attention would be stolen from exclusively jamming out to Sylosis, thanks to another overseas band that was releasing their first album in five years: Japan’s screamo (post-hardcore? post-screamo?) band, Envy.
Despite being a cult-famous band in one of my most beloved genres (not to mention hailing from the country that tops my vacation destination list), I somehow had never heard of Envy before. And their brand new album, The Fallen Crimson, prove to be an incredible place to start. On this hour-long journey that bounces back and forth between three-minute and six-minute songs, Envy carry the very dim torch of authentic 90’s screamo music, yet the tact and experience that allows them to toy with math rock, post-rock, metal, and spoken word, all without contaminating the genre’s legacy. Rather, they invigorate it.
Random pauses, unpredictable dynamics, and gorgeous instrumental patches stacked up next to devastating breakdowns keep songs like “A faint new world” endlessly engaging, even for listeners (like myself) who don’t understand the language. Despite the English song titles, I haven’t caught a single word being spoken, sung, or screamed in English, and that’s totally fine; the music — and the spell it places over you — is made no less captivating. While I’m certainly not new to listening to foreign music, I can’t help but comparing this to the Oscars finally recognizing a foreign language film as the year’s Best Picture (South Korea’s Parasite) on the same weekend as The Fallen Crimson‘s release.
If you’re anything like me, “Marginalized thread” will get stuck in your head, “Fingerprint mark” will leave its namesake on your conscience, and penultimate track “Memories and the limit” will bring you close to tears. That latter song might also surprise anyone who didn’t know how beautiful music can be that has screaming on top of it. In fact, “Memories” would seemingly make such a perfect closer that it nearly seems impossible how Envy one-up themselves one final time on the fittingly epic “A step in the morning glow,” which achieves that “epic” feeling with the use of surprisingly soft dynamics, which include some of the album’s softest moments and most complex drumming.
Minor missteps aside (the guest vocals on “Rhythm” are ill-fitting, both in their performance and in how the vocals are mixed into the track), this is a magical behemoth of a record that continues to grow in power and impression until its concluding moments. Envy have returned with a tour-de-force work of art that confirms both their place in music history and their relevance in the music scene of 2020.
Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. My debut album Unfall is out now, and I’d love for you to hear it.