What we know about At Folsom Prison is not much. The obvious reference in the moniker, for starters, betrays a band with solid roots in the past and a healthy dose of social awareness (Johnny Cash, anyone?). As for the music itself, you could call it “post-hardcore” and, yes, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Hard rock? I don’t see why not, since the angst and the canons of the genre are vaguely followed throughout the 40-odd minutes that make up this Every Dream and Every Crisis Means the Rise. Hybridity is not a good or a bad thing per se: it usually accommodates the fear to fail and shrewd opportunism, but when such a precarious state is a sudden snapshot of where a band is at any given time, the music is worth a listen.
That is exactly the case with this quartet from Prague. Standa (vocals), Filip (guitars), Michal (bass) and Stanley (drums) have developed something half-way between death metal and rock, and the end result is a nervous, unsteady record. Good, very good. Every melody is at the right place, the screaming bits are wisely counter-balanced by simple arrangements, even when a tune (as is the case with “It’s Time to Sleep”) clock well over the 8-minute mark. All in all, the outcome is nothing short of great. One can even feel that the band has tried to control the flow of ideas and come up with a consistent, meticulously rational series of songs.
But the overall impression is that the best of it all is what is not obvious. That nervousness, combined with an undeniable talent for catchy melodies, makes the band’s third album a brilliant departure point from which to venture into unknown territories. Emo? Melodic hardcore? Pure and simple rock ‘n’ roll? If tunes like “Moonlight”, “Sunset” or “Aurora” (clearly, these Czechs spend lots of time out in the open) are something to go by, then we are witnessing the beginning of something else.
Therefore, Red Fang, Kvelertak and Baroness or Thursday, Glassjaw and Alexisonfire? All of them and none of the above. These guys did not reinvent the wheel but they are not sitting comfortably either. The black metal guitar work in “Sleeping Wolves” or the straightforward, honest impact of a simple track like “BBTR” make Every Dream and Every Crisis Means the Rise a worthwhile record. But the best, for once, is definitely yet to come.