You know the saying goes: daredevils and music journalists live for the thrill of adventure. The first ones are addicted to the adrenaline through sky jumping, climbing buildings or beating speed records. The others are kept alive by the sheer hope that the next band they are going to listen to is not a nostalgia act or a lads band cooked in the Oasis sauce. Well, another lucky day for the reviewer here, Newcastle trio, Fossway are not only excellent but also something that I have not thought I’d hear in this day and age.
Let’s start with the name. They are called Fossway, no doubt inspired by the ancient Roman road connecting Exeter and Lincoln. The Fossway was one of the main ancient hubs of transportation in Britain, allowing commerce and trade to flourish. A feat of engineering as well – it was said to be the best road to be created using available technology and the most important. Smaller tracts merged with the Fossway at some point creating one of the most innovative road networks in Europe. The band knew well what they were doing when they chose this name – just like the ancient Fossway, they easily incorporate many “roads” or in this case music genres into one – their own. The list is quite impressive – prog rock, math rock, classic rock, heavy rock, psychedelia, hard rock, art rock. Inspirations? King Crimson, Early Genesis, early Yes, Black Sabbath, Van Der Graaf Generator. I hear a bit of Queen and Deep Purple, Muse and Sigur Ross – an excellent cocktail.
‘Live in the Fire’ starts with a proper Black Sabbath-esque riff. Multiple tempo changes, distorted vocals follow creating a layered, multidimensional track. The rhythm section is absolutely beautiful – every prog fan will love these guys to the moon and back. It’s like having Rush and Marillion combined, with lots of nearly math/jazz inspired twists and turns thrown in. The lyrics are smart, which is rare these days. They are socially and politically engaged, but not in the post-punk angry kind of way – there is no drama, no dystopian references. Again, the progressive school of rock shines through. The lyrics are closer to what Fish or Peter Gabriel would write, they are descriptive, poetic and sometimes purposefully enigmatic. You have to listen carefully and try to understand the meaning. The song itself is almost four and a half minutes long but it feels much shorter. I had it on repeat for half of the day and couldn’t get enough of it.
My only criticism could be directed at the way the band is being marketed. They are described as alternative/post punk which in my opinion is misleading. Fossway are miles away from the post punk genre and throwing them into the bag with The Blinders, Fontaines DC or IDLES could prove harmful for them in the long run. There is nothing wrong with being a proper progressive/art rock band – this is a badge the band should wear with pride. They come from a long and proud rock tradition that built foundations for every other genre since the 1980’s. I truly hope Fossway will continue on their path and start some soft of a prog-rock revival. It’s been long overdue and we need smart, intellectual and eclectic music to make a return.