By: Greg Sheriff
Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 09/06/2015
Label: Knife Hits/Brutal Panda Records
‘In short, I’ve been missing out. I’m really happy to have had a reason to sit down with a band I already thought I knew and find out there’s still so much more to them. I can only highly recommend ‘Constantly Off’, and after this I’m off to check out all the stuff I’ve missed.’
‘Constantly Off’ CS/DD//LP track listing:
2). Survival is Strange
3). Leveling in a Dream
4). You Don’t Wanna Live Forever
5). I Perceive Reptoids
6). Happy Joyful Life
Fight Amp is
Jon Dehart | Bass, vocals
Mike McGinnis | Guitars, vocals
Dan Smith | Drums
Fight Amp are one of those bands I’ve seen about a billion times opening for some other band I happened to be going to see, but never heard a proper release from. I’m not saying I don’t like them. At this point I’m always fairly excited to find out they’re on the bill and see that giant wall of budget “tonehunter” amps. In my mind you’d have to be trying pretty hard to find something to gripe about if they’re playing, but if you asked my why I haven’t ever taken the time to listen to anything from their considerable output, well I wouldn’t have ever been able to come up with a good reason; Until now that is, with their latest release (and only 4th full length out of 13 releases since 2003) ‘Constantly Off’ .
I’m pretty sure much has been made about Fight Amp laying neatly at the juncture of so very, very many influences, so the only thing I’ll add is how I think they do such an excellent job of sounding like everything and themselves at the same time. A less widdly diddly filled High on Fire at times, a heavier Fugazi at others and straight up Melvins worship but to me they fit right into this perfect space where fans of any number of punk and metal subgenres find crossover areas of interest. But I’ll go on: I think this is why I’ve never felt like I HAD to get a recording of theirs, or why I’ve never HAD to go see them when they come through town. With so much music to digest these days it’s the stuff that really focuses on a specific scene that gets most folks’ attention, which isn’t necessarily fair since ‘Constantly Off’ is really fucking good.
First off, the recording is next to perfect. Not in the slick, “produced” sense, more in the sense that the sound perfectly captures the essence of this band (as I think of them anyway). I’m mostly blown away by how much it sounds like seeing them live, just with less noise and more clarity in the low mids. This isn’t a band that’s going to go in the studio and let the magic happen behind the board or dibble around with twiddling knobs for “ambiance”, they’re just going to go in and turn up and devastate you, so just go get a mic and stick it front of something. The guitars grind and spit, the bass and kick are both punching hard together, and the cymbals are present without washing out everything all to hell. Everything sounds like its right in front of you, with little reverb or room sounds, giving their brand of sludge a welcome clarity.
The album kicks off with a set of droning notes on ‘Ex – Everything’, fairly tired these days after so much kneejerk “doom” fetishizing, but free of the usual pretense here it’s refreshing when it turns into a loping head nodder with sing-along choruses whose entirety clocks in at one second under three and a half minutes, which makes it one of two epics on an album whose average song length is approximately 2:59. By the time we get to the fourth, ‘You Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ Fight Amp has given us the fast, the slow, and the heavy, with the shifting of pace all a set up for this 5/4 banger that is, for me, the highpoint of the album. The toms and kick, in the opening give us the template and then it’s fucking ‘on’, proving you don’t have to make odd time signatures an incomprehensible skronk party. Visceral, compelling, simple well done all around. From there we get the dissonant post punk of ‘I Perceive Reptoids’ and the closing “epic” ‘Happy Joyful Life’ whose ominous bass and band interplay clearly indicate life is anything but. In short, I’ve been missing out. I’m really happy to have had a reason to sit down with a band I already thought I knew and find out there’s still so much more to them. I can only highly recommend ‘Constantly Off’, and after this I’m off to check out all the stuff I’ve missed.