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Famyne : Famyne

Canterbury's Famyne do an excellent job of blending their disparate influences into a consistent debut full-length album.

Remember Famyne? Maybe not, so let me refresh your memory: in 2015, a somewhat quirky and eclectic self-titled EP emerged from darkest Canterbury: the first offering from a young band throwing various Epic, Trad, Stoner, Prog and Grunge influences into their particular pot, and coming up with a well-produced and varied self-release as a result. Okay, the 'Famyne EP' perhaps set out something that was a little too broad and shallow overall - the three (plus one bonus) tracks all came from different directions, and as a result neither explored any of them fully, nor completely established a valid baseline for what to expect of the 'band sound'. But it did do more than enough to put them on the 'well worth watching' list for future endeavours, and if you took note of that, you're basically on the verge of holding a copy of their first full-length in your hands right now - preorders are on the way, and digital download options are already available.

I covered the original EP, with mention of it touching the spirit of the unique musical scene of their hometown established back in the '70s by the likes of Soft Machine, Caravan and Gong. But, listening to the full-length, the 'Canterbury' reference which actually springs to mind is Diamond Head's third album - the one which pretty much sank them without trace as a force within the NWOBHM. I loved it (despite the piss-poor vinyl pressing that meant every copy skipped like crazy), though, and I can hear echoes of its prog-rock, middle-eastern-influenced, off-kilter vibe shining throughout the 'Famyne' debut. Likewise, the chunky bass, getting almost as much lead time as the twin guitars, in very '80s fashion. And, although vocalist Tom Vane has a generally deeper tone than Sean Harris (for all his faults, an astonishingly charismatic frontman), his versatility and range conjure a similar vibe as they sweep from wordless crooning through to belting out the lyrics. Well, except when they don't - as in the spacy, punky second half of 'Slave Ship', that sounds like something Nik Turner's Inner City Unit might have put together for laughs.

Well, anyway, that's just my personal impression - I very much doubt that the band, given their lack of any citations for early '80s influences, took any direct inspiration from those sources. More likely, any such similarities are a 'Twice Removed From Yesterday*' deal, where they've simply worked their way into the Metal canon and become somewhat ubiquitous foundations for all sorts of later acts along the way.(* And speaking of Robin Trower - there's the gorgeous, bluesy guitar intro to 'Dreamweaver' to consider...).

But, wherever you sit - or prefer to refer back to - on the spectrum of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal evolution over the past few decades, there's no doubt that Famyne do a particularly excellent job of blending both the vintage/authentic and contemporary/modern elements in a single package. And, in case that hasn't been explicitly enough stated along the way, for all their experimental tendencies and outside influences, they keep at least one foot firmly planted in the authentic Trad/Epic Doom camp at all times. Sure, you'll find some guest cello and violin/viola ornaments making a very pleasant appearance, but by and large, you'll be on the receiving end of some massive, exemplary slow'n'low compositions where the drums keep everything anchored to a down-tempo heartbeat. Almost paradoxically, that remains the case even when the percussion gets a faster edge, such as on 'Faustus', or when the track dips into a more weepy, melancholic-ballad approach, as with 'Ghosts'. Essentially, it takes the somewhat disparate phases of the debut EP, and renders them into a more consistent and comprehensive whole, giving the listener every opportunity to reconcile both the traditional and eclectic parts into a truer picture of what the band sound is striving for.

You can also add to the compositional and executional praise that Famyne have done a proper job with the production and packaging, remastering for each of the formats available, and with some gorgeous cover art by Vergvoktre that consistently ties in with the loosely dystopian/environmentally aware concepts carried throughout the lyrics. All too often, the devil's in the detail, and this is a band that obviously pays attention to those details. I'm particularly struck by the quote from our 2015 introductory interview: "Our music is honest, we love what we do. Not sure what else to say, really..." - I don't think it's necessary to say anything else, and that honesty is something which shines through. I could offer a whole bunch of alternative namechecks and comparators, but none of them ring more truly than a prototypical band doing exactly what they wanted to, whatever the consequences.

As a result, this is unlikely to be a worldwide giant-killer in the same way Trad/Epic acts like Khemmis or Pallbearer, with their heftier label backing, get easy exposure - but I'm certainly of the opinion it deserves to hit those kinds of heights. This is the underground, after all - the easy option may be to pick up Relapse's current catalogue over an obscure UK self-release. But, in this case, it's the underdog doing far more to establish something true and unique than the easy-quote, easy-purchase heavy hitters...my money's already gone where my mouth is, how could I possibly recommend anything less than at least checking out this distinctive, intriguing, and - above all - from the heart release?

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Wearthless
2. Faustus
3. Slave Ship
4. Ghosts
5. Tremor
6. Dreamweaver

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Famyne bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-09-28 by Mike Liassides
Vanha - Black Lion
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