Fist Fight in the Parking Lot – Year of the Ox (self-released, 11 January 2014)
Good afternoon, readers! Happy Monday to you all. Hope you had a good weekend. I was out of town visiting relatives the whole time — which, surprisingly, wasn’t really as bad as that sounds. So that’s cool, I guess. Although being away from Pittsburgh did have one unfortunate consequence: I wasn’t able to make it to the Fist Fight in the Parking Lot CD release show that took place Saturday night. They always put on a very energetic, entertaining show (and plus, our Ohioan neighbors Black Plastic Caskets also played that night, and I’ve only seen them once and have really been looking forward to having another chance).
But anyway, at least I can check out the new FFITPL CD, and I can tell you about it so you can go check it out too. And then we can all party like it’s 2021.
The year of the ox may not actually arrive until February, 2021, but the five-track album The Year of the Ox came out two days ago — just about two years after their Innervenus Music self-titled debut (read about that one right here).
In the time that has passed since then, it seems like the band (which features Abby Krizner, on-air personality for local radio station 105.9 the X, on vocals and guitar; as well as three members of the band Venus in Furs: guitarist Jason Sichi, who is also in Serpent Lord; bassist Johnnie Metal; and drummer Chris Ruane, who has also been making a name for himself recording/mixing/mastering a whole slew of local bands’ albums, including Year of the Ox) have been spending their time honing their songcrafting skills. Although the new album only has about half as many tracks as the debut, the running length of each record is nearly the same. On Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, all of the songs were under six minutes long, with most of them ranging between three to four — not “poppy” by any stretch of the imagination, but fairly radio-friendly for the most part. However, the average length on the new release is up around six minutes, ranging from four all the way up to nine; and despite some lengthy instrumental sections and drawn-out endings, these tracks are all structured with enough variety and interesting twists that they never seem quite as long as they actually are. In other words, the listener is never left feeling bored or wondering when the song will end, as each minute of music definitely feels necessary for that particular song.
In addition to lengthier compositions and somewhat more complex structures, the group’s sound appears to have matured a bit as well. The overall vibe of Sabbathian stoner/sludge metal is still here, but generally speaking, it has turned even slower and sludgier; perhaps even darker and more sinister. And in stark contrast to this — which just serves to further highlight the heaviness and darkness of the music — we find Ms. Krizner showing off a wider range of vocal performances: while there’s still plenty of the angsty, pissed-off-sounding gruff singing that dominated the debut album, she frequently also takes advantage of a more melodic, and one might almost say sultry, singing voice. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the song “Natural Fool,” where she seems to drift between sounding like Stevie Nicks and Natalie Merchant. Meanwhile, the band pulls off a fairly convincing Alice in Chains impression, from the bent-note guitar intro that harks back to the title track from Dirt, to the chorus chord changes, drum fills, and guitar solo that might have felt right at home on Jar of Flies or SAP. Naturally, this would be immediately followed by the heaviest song on the record, “Horsemouth” — which, in addition to featuring a spaced-out instrumental section reminiscent of one of this reviewer’s favorite local bands, Supervoid, also coincidentally happens to include a guest appearance of growling and singing from that band’s own versatile vocalist, Brian Urban.
Overall, Year of the Ox represents a band staying true to who they are, while at the same time managing to branch out and achieve substantial positive growth; in general, a band giving a giant middle finger to the so-called “sophomore jinx”. Here are a series of teasers of various songs from the album:
Physical copies of the CD will be available at upcoming FFITPL shows:
- Saturday, 25 January 2014 – at Goodfellas Bar in Wheeling WV (with Doctor Smoke and Brimstone Coven)
- Saturday, 22 February 2014 – at the Sidebar in Kittanning PA (with Supervoid)
Fist Fight in the Parking Lot: