Overall Score: 9/10
Atmosphericness: 10/10
Musicianship: 9/10
Consistency: 9/10
Pros: Hugely Atmospheric | Dark and Soulful
Cons: A little on the short side

The Fear Is Excruciating But Therein Lies The Answer is the third album from one of the leaders of the post-metal / ambient genre, Red Sparowes. Like many good artists of similar nature such as ISIS and Torche, Red Sparowes make their home on the fantastic HydraHead records Red Sparowes make their home in the UK on Conspiracy Records. Can their third full length release hold up to the sheer epicness of the first two albums which combined huge sounds with haunting, epic, beautfiul melodies so well? Read on to find out…

Truths Arise starts the album off in fairly traditional epic Red Sparowes style but at just under 2 minutes doesn’t fully get going (you get the feeling from it if it had been 5 or 6 minutes it would have built into a masterpiece).

In Illusions Of Order clocks in at around the seven and a half minute mark (which is still a little short for the average length Red Sparowes song based on the first two albums) and is the band at their ambient best, slowly building from a peaceful opening to a piece that is quite bombastic and it feels like the song has surrounded you by the end.

A Hail of Bombs is one of the standout tracks and is much livelier than much of red sparowes other material, it would seem very at home on a Pelican album. There is a lot going on in this piece and there is some fantastic guitar work, particularly in the second half of the track.

Giving Birth To Imagined Saviors carries on where A Hail of Bombs left off and manages to be both ambient and epic at the same time, with moments of pure tranquillity mixed into brasher, louder sections and in style is very close to some of the tracks from the first album At The Soundless Dawn (never a bad thing).

A Swarm is another standout track which features great musicianship and just draws you into the music, even more so than some of the previously described songs. It is another song which builds up fantastically, Red Sparowes being arguably one of the best bands (certainly of their genre if not across all genres) at the art of constructing a long song, knowing when to build and when to take it down a notch. The end/extended outro of A Swarm is something of particular fantastic ambience.

In Every Mind is another much shorter than usual track for Red Sparowes, but like their label mates Torche on the recent Songs for Singles, manage to pack a lot of impact into their shorter tracks as In Every Mind pulverises your senses with huge sounding drums and riffs that sound cavernous.

A Mutiny returns things to grandiose levels very quickly steering the listener through the full range of a Red Sparowes arrangement from early drone to full on enveloping sound explosion. This is another song I find it very easy to lose myself in, and when it comes to Red Sparowes, those are the best kind.

Album closer As Each End Looms and Subsides is perhaps the song most similar to RS second album Every Heart Shines Towards The Red Sun, having a very drony beginning and the drony sound being prevailant throughout the song. It is also the darkest sounding of all the songs on The Fear Is Excruciating, and dark sounding songs is something Red Sparowes have proven to be very good at. The track still manages to retain the enveloping characteristics of many of the other tracks and is a fine conclusion to what is a fine album.

On first listen to this album, I did not think it was anywhere near as good as its two predecessors, mainly due to the lack of 10 minute long (or 10 minute plus) epics. However this album contains many epic songs in its own right, they’re just packaged in slightly shorter form. This album is Red Sparowes doing what they do best, whilst still managing to add to their sound to keep things fresh. A fantastic album from a fantastic band, long may they continue to put out albums of the quality that the first three have been.

Label: Conspiracy Records

For Fans Of: Pelican, Tool, ISIS, Cave In, Torche, Long Distance Calling, Baroness, Mastodon, Mono, Jesu