Fusing epic progressive rock with grunge and metal undertones is always going to be a winner in our book, and that’s exactly what we get in abundance with the delicious sound of Leicester trio Final Coil.
The band fuse elements of prog, post-rock and metal with doom and stoner influences, all of which are underpinned by a love of heavy riffs. That’s combined with nuances and melodic elements that truly takes the listener on a thrill-packed adventure.
Final Coil started out as a personal project of frontman Phil Stiles, who put down a few tracks on an eight-track recorder at University. But he soon met Rich Awdry (lead guitar and backing vocals) and the pair began working on a few things and played a few live shows. But things didn’t really kick-off until 2008, when Phil returned from a four-year stint in Poland and Jola Stiles volunteered to step in on bass.
Phil tells us his musical turning point was discovering Nirvana and, specifically, their In Utero album – which this writer fully understands. As he explains: “The music on that album was so raw and ragged and yet graceful and bruised. It spoke to me like nothing else had up to that point – the lyrics, the urgency of the music – oh wow, it was unearthly.
“So I pored through the liner notes, discovering all sorts of great music in the process – Sonic Youth, Swans, Helmet, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains… and that was the point where I knew I had to pick up a guitar. Oh man, I sucked! I had no natural aptitude at all, but I stuck at it, watching the Alice in Chains Unplugged video over and over and trying to learn the chords and, over time, I started to think about writing.”
And these influences are clear within the engaging sound of Final Coil – which they describe as “evocative, textured and atmospheric – of which our latest taster is their second album The World We Left Behind For Others, released back in April.
As Phil explains: “For those who have not come across the band before, the album is a concept record featuring twelve thematically and sonically linked songs. The album takes the listener on a journey from the blazing, riff-strewn The Last Battle to the feedback-enhanced wreckage of the title track. In between, the record ebbs and flows via the dynamic Scattered Dust and the emotionally-charged epic Imaginary Trip, which has a Pink Floyd vibe to it. Varied, yet coherent, it’s a record best listened to as a complete piece.”
The album gets off to a spectacular start with the epic The Last Battle, which builds in atmosphere from a looping guitar riff up into huge booming guitar chords and big cried vocals, then into a darting high-pitched lick. Dramatic vocals take over, supported by a light guitar and chuggy bursts of guitar, then explodes into a big chorus. Check it out in the video below:
Next, Scattered Dust comes in at more than seven minutes long, and is equally epic. Big guitars kick off then drop into light guitars and an edgy opening vocals “I see you sitting there alone, Blood-rimmed eyes fixed upon the phone, Betrayal is your heart’s black creed, Obsessed and ignorant in greed.” Booming guitars kick in bring in a faster-paced chorus with delicious little guitar fillers dropping in. Piercing guitars take over and build towards a big rocky chorus that ends on choppy guitars and shouted vocals as it gradually builds in intensity.
The album is a great listen from start to finish, with the focus on big delicious riffs a constant. A personal favourite, which proves this point, is the excellent …and I’ll Leave – which follows the brief One More Drink... – which begins with guitar chords that continue a catchy opening verse that builds towards a singalong chorus. A cool meandering mini solo bridges between a second chorus and a final one to close. Check out the video below:
The album signs off with another epic, the ten-and-a-half-minute-long title track. The World We Left Behind For Others starts with moody long guitar chords over looping piano, before a high-pitched guitar lick creeps in over the top of tense drums and guitars. It drops into lighter guitars under a little lick then big pounding drums kick in to build the atmosphere, then bigger guitars come in with a distant repeating guitar twist.
Suddenly a delicious low-pitched repeating riff comes in and feeds into an angsty opening verse – after only the four minute intro. A big booming riff comes in and gives way to big cried vocals as the song kicks into life, then drops into another angsty verse.
It branches out into a more progressive edge with a light lick supported by big guitar chords before winding down to an outro that sees the return of the plodding piano. It’s a superb ending to a stellar album. Give it a listen below:
On the album, Phil tells us: “The reaction to this point has far outstripped our expectations. It has always been the case that we make the music we want to hear first and foremost and worry about the ramifications after.
“We knew that making that most unfashionable of statements – the concept album – would be a challenging endeavour, especially for a band that is still establishing itself. But it’s something that I felt we had to do. The circumstances of writing the record provided a narrative that had to be dealt with in this way, and all I could do was sincerely hope that there would be people who would be willing to join us in this journey.”
The topics that inspire them to write music are fairly wide-ranging but, as Phil explains, it can get pretty personal – including his grandmother passing away at the age of 101 while they were mixing their debut album Persistence of Memory, which led to him discovering a bundle of letters that shed light on her life during the war.
“It occurred to me that parallels could be drawn between her experiences and the current political climate, especially that of resurgent nationalism led predominantly by a post-war generation who have no direct experience of conflict, but a good deal of propaganda-fed nostalgia surrounding notions of sovereignty,” Phil said.
“The album attempts to explore some of the questions about how such social division has prospered, predominantly through a lack of compassion and communication, and is based on a mix of first and second-hand stories, the letters we found and a degree of reading around the subject. I’ve always felt that the only way to influence the future for the better is to have a strong understanding of the past, and this album was an attempt to address that viewpoint.”
You can also guarantee that this is a band that feels blessed for the good things coming their way, and appreciates all the help they’ve had along the way. As Phil says: “We started the band with no expectations. I’ve always believed that music is an art-form and that it is important, above all else, to be true to yourself. We’ve been so fortunate to find a label who believe in what we do (WormHoleDeath) and a number of professionals willing to lend their time and their talent to help us on our way. Over the last three years, we’ve had the wonderful Ester Segarra do our last three photo shoots; Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna) master our debut; Glass Hammer and The Way Of Purity invite me to do guest spots on their latest records; Jay Hillyer (Cabin Boy Jumped Ship) film our promos; Andy Pilkington handle our artwork and we’ve had the amazing production team of Wahoomi Corvi, Cristian Corruzzi and Jonny Mazzeo work on our albums.
“These are not small things at all. We truly appreciate everyone who’s helped us along the way and, with so much music out there, we’re constantly surprised by the support we receive from websites, magazines, writers and, of course, fans all around the world. It means the world to me when people take the trouble to write to us, share our music or support us in some way and there’s so much we still want to do. With this album, we’re just getting started…”
Not ones to hang around, the band are already working on their third album – which is the final chapter in their trilogy concept. You can also catch them live at Camden Underworld supporting Shonen Knife, along with German band Pabst, on 18 July – where they’ll be premiering a track from the third album. More info on that is here.