So, I’ve been handed an early copy of Closed to the Light by Final Coil, because I was cheeky and asked for an early copy to review. I’ve always been a fan of Final Coil, and in the interests of full disclosure, am virtual friends with Phil, so make of that what you will. With that in mind, onward to the review!
The opening track, Close to the Light, begins with a wailing e-bowed guitar that quickly rises up through the channels to provide the main backing. At 28 seconds, this is a short opening track, reminiscent of Sand by Filter, or The Arrival by Celldweller with its eerie tones as Phil starts singing and more instruments bring it to a crashing crescendo which opens the second track, Daylight Fades.
Daylight Fades is, to put it simply, heavy as the gates of hell opening. A staccato drum beat starts, with bass joining in to provide a menacing undercurrent before the guitars crash in with a pounding riff. Stiles’ singing kicks in with an abrupt snarl, darker and more threatening than it’s been before. It’s obvious to see that the experimentation with the heavier and darker attitudes to music found in the previous Somnambulant EP has been put to good use as, at times, Daylight Fades is a mix of grunge and Tool-style simplicity in its brutal rawness.
The chorus is just as heavy as the verses are, but it’s the solo that shows off more of an-A Perfect Circle-style approach to dark-yet-phased guitars, followed by a synth and guitar breakdown that is crushing. Another chorus completes the song before it rather abruptly fades out. A bit of a shame that, as it feels like the song could go for a proper meltdown at the end to finish things off, but for the first proper song on the album, it’s a cracking start.
Goodbye To All That, the third track and an updated/rerecorded version which was previously featured on the eponymous Goodbye To All That EP, opens with bass and pounding drums again, similar in style to Daylight Fades, but, unlike the original version, the guitars add a sense of harshness and eeriness not found in the original. There’s some nice experimentation with guitar tones and synths that weren’t found in the original and a nice wailing guitar throughout the intro, unlike the original version. Additionally, the solo has been expanded upon, which adds to it in this reviewer’s humble opinion.
The vocals have also been tidied up as they kick in, as before they seemed to be muddied in the mix a bit as they overlapped with the guitars at times. Speaking of which, the guitars are crisper and sharper than ever before with this release, which both adds and detracts from it. The original had a certain sense of rawness to it that this more polished version can’t quite capture, but given the more updated sound that Final Coil are aiming for, the polishing feels like more of a better fit.
The final track, Closed to the Light, opens with a chugging guitar sound overlapped with synths. The experimentation found in previous releases seems to be present mainly on this track, and clocking in at nearly 8 minutes, it’s definitely one of the more experimental tracks.
Taking inspiration from other bands such as early Filter and some Downward Spiral-era Nine Inch Nails, the guitars provide the mainstay backing part of the song, more than the drums and bass do. The vocals carry on the snippet found in the opening track, blending a mix of the snarl found in Daylight Fades and the normal style of Phil at times. It’s easy to hear that as Final Coil have changed over the years, they’re not afraid to experiment with more vocal harmonies as Richard Awdry has been given more of a prominent role with the vocals and more ambient guitar at times providing an interesting counterpoint to the normal grunge chugging.
Despite the song length, it doesn’t actually feel all that long, which is a bit strange. The guitar solo which sounds vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd meeting grunge for lack of a better term, breaks things up nicely and introduces the outro, which gently pans out to chorused and echoed guitar, providing a bit of a quiet ending to this EP.
If this is your first introduction to Final Coil, then you’ll find that it covers pretty much all of their styles in four tracks. If you find yourself liking the harder stuff, then you’ll find heaviness in the previous EPs. If you find that you prefer the more experimental side, then that’s still available with the previous EPs as well, most notably on Somnambulant. If you’re a returning fan of Final Coil, then you’ll find this EP a welcome addition to your collection.