Style: Progressive Metal
Release Date: 20 Feb 2020
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Here's an interesting album that the band sent me for review. Fughu are from Buenos Aires in Argentina and they play progressive metal, but perhaps not a flavour that you've heard before. They mix older influences with new ones to end up somewhere new and I like it. Interestingly, it starts out without any metal in evidence whatsoever. The first couple of minutes of Peggy are prog rock, pure and simple, but eventually the guitar crunches in and the vocals get even wilder.
Now, I should add that the vocals were already wild. Renzo Favaro sings lead and he does so with theatrical character. I really didn't know what to think when his heavily accented English first kicked in and it got stranger as the opener ran on, continuing down that path as the band move onto Pixel Hero. I got used to it after a few songs, though, and it's easily the most memorable angle to Fughu. There are influences you might expect, like Geoff Tate, but Favaro goes way beyond that. He trawls in David Byrne, Serj Tankian and even Freddie Mercury, whatever style he needs for the moment.
Once we're used to what Favaro gets up to, we start to focus on the rest of the band. Maybe that's by Call Now, where the music almost goes down a folk dance road at one point but takes a wild left turn into a sort of beatboxing segment, which soon evolves into a guitar solo. On the softer side, Stay is driven as much by the enticing bass of Juan Manuel Lopez as anything else, a folk vocal chant notwithstanding. Ay ay ay!
While we notice those versatile vocals first, we eventually realise that the music is just as versatile and the four musicians responsible are tight and apparently up for pretty much anything. The Goat came out of nowhere for me, with a slow but inexorably driving industrial rock aesthetic that actually stops halfway to turn into something oddly ambient, as if the factory being mimicked shut for the night and the band forgot to switch off their sample recorder.
But a lot of these songs come out of nowhere. Told You is a very heavy song, except when it isn't: there are peaceful sections in there, not to mention a quiet introspective one, but the end result is heavy. Right from the Bone is heavy at points too but it's a funky playful track, drifting from krautrock to System of a Down and back again. What If becomes all neo-prog and I dug the instrumental section.
If Stay isn't my favourite, then it's Martian, which is all over the place, like a jazz assassin. Favaro delivers carefully with storytelling melodies, while Alejandro Lopez dominates the instrumentation with an improvisational drum attack. Then it turns into an acid trip, but it emerges vibrant, alive and inquisitive, back at the beginning but with extra layers. Eventually it takes off, soaring around us with keyboards and even operatic vocals, only a carefully plodding bass keeping us remotely grounded.
I'd usually say here that there's a heck of a lot here and the catch is that not everything lives up to the same level of quality. There are certainly a few songs that I don't like as much, but this is one of those albums that's so varied and interesting that the songs I really like might get old after a while but the songs I don't like much might suddenly pop on a fifth listen. I'm only three in at the moment and a few haven't got there yet.
If its weakest aspect is a perceived lack of consistency, its strongest must be that it's engaging enough that I'll easily end up past five listens soon enough. After all, I haven't found the kitchen sink yet and I'm pretty sure it's in here. Everything else is.
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