I Fail - Highways... (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

I Fail

Highways... (2010)

Sacred Plague

I Fail were determined to get in my stereo by whatever means necessary: compact disc; 10" vinyl; cassette–they sent it all. Every possible version of their Highways... EP. Thankfully, this five-song effort from ex-members of Cinncinati bands Fucked for Life, Inblackandwhite, Lost Hands Found Fingers and Mosquitos Can Kill ain't half-bad on any format.

Opener "Wall' begins with a raw and ominous chunk of punky chords before the song reels into a relatively straightforward, shouty melodic hardcore song with darker overtones, joined by raspy, screamy vocals out of the early Circle Takes the Square camp. The track takes on more interesting, unconventional turns eventually, with a bridge bearing a minimal guitar line and distant whimpers before a stressed climax with those screamier vox again.

The pure energy behind "Eisenhower" makes it a standout, coming in immediately with a sense of urgency and purpose, while "The Giraffed" takes a lighter mood with this awkward stop-start motion, almost calling to mind pre-Epitaph Hot Water Music. Closer "All = All" picks it back up with the band's prime trait of controlled freneticism, a tense bridge and another aching, slow-burning buildup before a quick tempo drive.

This is a pretty solid concoction. It's not mind-blowing by any means, but I Fail manage a taut and strained brand of emotive punk/hardcore that moves well on this EP.

Highways... EP