In 2015, space-rock giants Failure reunited for a new album and a subsequential tour. While it took decades for people to appreciate their 1996 effort Fantastic Planet, the reunion album was an instant success. The Heart Is A Monster solidified Failure’s place in recent history as one of the most unique hard rock acts to come out of the 90s. They may have defied the reunion cash-grab trope, but without the nostalgia boost, can Failure make lightning strike twice with their latest In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind?
The short answer is yes!
In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind delivers on all accounts. But to understand how, you’ll have to unpack what makes Failure such an interesting band.
By the time 1996 rolled around, what the world knew as ‘alternative rock’ had lost all sense of identity. Grunge was dead and record labels started second guessing the acts they had signed on a whim just a few years prior. If it didn’t have a profitable gimmick to help climb the charts, they were dropped. Out of the ashes came the last hoorah of creative artists. Failure being one of them. Fantastic Planet had far more in common with Pink Floyd than Nirvana so it was only right for it to have a cult following instead of Billboard appeal.
Dense guitars and spaced-landscapes may be all the rage these days, but Failure was so ahead of their time it took nearly two decades for the masses to catch up. This made Failure’s reunion all the more satisfying. The Heart Is A Monster wasn’t a retread of Fantastic Planet, but a natural progression of an album Failure could’ve put out in 1999 or 2000.
Organic progression aside, Failure isn’t a band bound by fan expectation.
In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind begins with “Dark Speed”. A nearly robotic drum pattern, minimalist rhythm, and sinister whisper vocals indicate Failure have evolved into an entirely different beast. Despite being the least interesting track on the album, “Dark Speed” builds a tension without a release. The result is something Trent Reznor tried (and failed) with Nine Inch Nails’ With Teeth album. Any other band would be too afraid to alienate fans with an unorthodox opening track, Failure revels in it. With that said, In The Future… should feel like a departure but not a single song in the hefty 16 track runtime sounds like a reinvention.
Despite plenty of otherworldly experimentation and mental trickery abound, Failure manages to pay tribute to some of their influences here and there. “What Makes It Easy” makes me think of a modern day Darkside Of The Moon. “Solar Eyes” channels a bit of Tool but with added hallucinogenics, while “Another Post Human Dream” is very Magical Mystery Tour.
Sonically speaking, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind just might be the best sounding album in Failure’s catalog.
The most striking element of In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind lies within its production value. Failure’s knack for soundscapes and experimentation are usually center stage. On this outing, everything is dialed back letting dead air become an instrument in of itself. The distorted bass drops in and out as if its some sort of space transmission. With guitar used as dischord noise, the haunting vocals do all the heavy lifting when it comes to melody. From a production standpoint, this album is a masterpeice.
This just might be the heaviest rock album that rarely uses a guitar as its primary instrument.
The real MVP goes to percussionist Kellii Scott. In all my years of listening to music and hours spent in recording studios, I’ve never heard a set of drums tracked so well. From chaotic patterns in “Distorted Fields” to subtle nuance in “Another Post Human Dream”, Scott utilizes machine-like timing to bring order to even the wildest moments. I hate to call it a ‘drummer’s album’, but I’m convinced there aren’t many who could hold a candle with Scott.
In The Future… is easily the strangest yet most satisfying album from Failure. Its aggressive, horrifying, and heartbreaking without coming off as pretentious or heavy-handed. That’s a remarkable feat in the day and age of artists using their art as a platform for projected therapy or a call to arms. I really didn’t know what to expect with In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. But what I got is another career defining album from a band who is always 20 years ahead of the listener.
photos by Priscilla Scott
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.