Solidifying their lineup in 2001, Blacksburg, Virginia's Far-Less have been working hard, releasing something every year. It started with two self-released EPs in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and then their first full-length, Broken Hearts Unite, on Silent Uproar Records in 2003. That release gained them enough attention that Tooth & Nail picked them up in 2004 and they released the EP we have here. They don't appear to be losing pace, with a full-length due out this year.
All this hard work has helped the band develop a tight and refined style, a style I will have to call emo-metal for lack of anything better. There is double-bass pedal work abound here, plenty of screaming, and some nice breakdowns. But above it all is an "emo" attitude and a melodic crooning typical to the genre currently. I've had a hard time comparing them to any one band. They are not as guitar fireworks-based to lump them in with Thrice, and they don't have the lighter pop moments of other popular scream-sing-scream bands like Taking Back Sunday or Thursday. Far-Less also maintains an almost airy, floating feel to most of the stuff here, feeling less jarring and abrasive than what I think of "metal" as being, or emo for that matter.
Rather than just throwing a few random songs together here, Far-Less give the EP a full album treatment by sandwiching the four complete songs between two instrumental pieces, giving you more for your money. It starts gentle, but as the first proper song "Scorched Earth Policy" hits, it hits hard. Some of the most brutal vocals found on the EP are right here, followed immediately by the smooth melodies of lead vocalist Brandon Welch, and they alternate throughout the song. "Georgia" is a little more laid back, starting very atmospherically with harmonized guitar with the reverb way up and some interesting drumming with a focus on rim clicks. The song remains mostly melodic, but it doesn't leave the screaming out completely. Another notable moment on the EP is the insanely good drumming featured in "Out of Balance." As a drummer myself, I usually take away points for double bass fills as they are a cheap way to impress, but here I will make an exception - this guy has some real control over his double pedal, and some quick hands to add. The EP ends not with a return to the mellow feel of the beginning, but to a more distorted feel than ever with feedback aplenty. Then the entire mix of the EP is fazed out into a rumbling mess with post-production effects, which I liked a lot.
I don't really know what to expect from a Tooth & Nail release anymore, and I think that's a good thing. These guys are obviously Christian if you read the liner notes, but that doesn't bug me - they don't preach in their songs anyway. That aside, this was harder than what I expected to hear but overall I liked it. Not anything too out of the ordinary trend these days, but enough to keep my interest. Smooth and airy yet somehow still brutal, the hard-working men of Far-Less have nailed something interesting that remains within the grasp of today's emo kids.