Fiddlehead - Death is Nothing to Us (Neon Orange LP)
Fiddlehead's third album Death is Nothing to Us is a defiant, new chapter for the band. Since 2014, the Boston-based group have been honing their unique sound, bringing together the energy of hardcore, the anthemic melodies of '90s alternative, and the unbridled passion of Revolution Summer era emo. Their previous albums, 2018's Springtime and Blind and 2021's Between The Richness, dealt heavily with grief from different perspectives, and now their latest feels like a de facto culmination, drawing together many of the catalog's through-lines sonically and lyrically. The band again teamed with producer Chris Teti for their third record, and his punchy production captures Fiddlehead's live energy while showcasing the massive guitars and undeniable catchiness that makes their music so immensely satisfying. The album's concise 27 minutes sound like a natural extension of all of the band's strengths, but is glued together by vocalist Pat Flynn's singular tuneful roar. Flynn, since his time as the vocalist of Have Heart and now as Fiddlehead's frontman, has earned a reputation as one of hardcore's most thoughtful lyricists. He interweaves his ruminations on life, death, and all the joy and tragedy in between with references to Roman philosopher Lucretius; the author Jean Améry; other musicians like Bad Brains, Alex G, or Wire, and even references to the band's own back catalog. The humanity across Death Is Nothing To Us is palpable in every note. It's the kind of art that observes pain with real honesty rather than prescribing a solution for it–and in doing so, inadvertently offers some sense of hopefulness. The album finds Fiddlehead so deeply delving into the pain, confusion, nuances, and contradictions of sadness–so willingly wrapping their arms around a concept as existentially baffling as death itself–that they've created an album that is truly life-affirming. Death is Nothing to Us exemplifies so much of what makes Fiddlehead a special band: taking these heady, unanswerable questions and wrestling with them in a very earthbound way, all wrapped up in the urgent power of a three minute punk song.