Album Review: Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

Written by Music

Fontaines D.C. tackle highs and lows head first on their exuberating second album

Formed from a place of distance on a gruelling tour schedule, the band would sit in their bus in silence. Tensions were high and they knew they had to act fast to keep the band alive. Recorded in LA, A Hero’s Death is Fontaines D.C. at their best.

After exploding onto the post-punk scene back in 2018 with a handful of gut punching singles, and then releasing their critically acclaimed debut Dogrel in 2019, Dublin quintet Fontaines D.C. are yet to have a rest. However, this all or nothing attitude is what makes their music so assuring. It displays their passion, a passion that we, as fans, never fail to replicate.

This all or nothing attitude is what makes their music so assuring

On Dogrel, the band targeted life in Dublin as their main inspiration, detailing how their beloved city had shifted and shaped who they were with numerous, character-driven tracks. On A Hero’s Death however, things get more personal. The band themselves become the target of the music, on an album that was needed to keep them together.

 A lot has changed for the band since the release of their debut. They went from playing pubs to Palaces – well, Ally Pally in 2021 – in the short space of a year, a hefty feat for any band, let alone one that had only released their first single a year prior. This shift in popularity and the issues that came with it are the driving forces behind AHD.

This album is less aggressive but more violent than Dogrel. There’s more suspense, more danger and more honesty, perhaps from the band allowing themselves to be more open with each other. Frontman Grian Chatten’s signature snarl is softer now, seemingly harbouring layers of insecurities not previously expressed, as is the rest of the band’s music. There are still soaring guitar solos and harrowing drum cacophony’s, but the band seem to take an often more laidback, experimental approach, staying true to themselves opposed to what the hordes of new fans might want.

Frontman Grian Chatten’s signature snarl is softer now

 The first half of ‘Sunny’ is a simple, cymbal beat, only accompanied by Grian’s softer vocals before he’s joined by subtle guitars and diaphanous backing vocals. The record is not only softer, but more experimental,  with the do-wap nature of the Beach Boys backing vocals being found on the title track, and album opener ‘I Don’t Belong’ takes a more gothic approach to the post-punk genre. It’s a welcome shift in style and Fontaines prove themselves as more than your average post-punk band.

“And they just wanna come to your place and see you sing” chants Chatten, explaining the bands worries on ‘A Lucid Dream’, a track that could’ve been on Dogrel, and it’s nice to see Fontaines pay homage to their stellar debut, but it’s still more experimental than we’ve seen before. Murmuring guitars kick off the tune before a swanky riff leads in the rowdy nature of the rest of the track. ‘Living In America’ takes a similar approach with Chatten gurgling the words, swilling them around his throat before spitting them at  us with an assured and violent dominance.

A Hero’s Death is Fontaines D.C. at their finest. A wonderful collection of hard hitting and thought-provoking tracks made for them, not for us. And we’re okay with that. Long live Fontaines D.C.

Overall, a 4.5/5

Last modified: 3rd August 2020

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