Reiði is the Icelandic word for ‘rage’. It’s also the esoteric yet fitting title of Black Foxxes’ second album, which they’ve just released on Spinefarm Records. Following the Devon trio’s acclaimed 2016 debut album I’m Not Well, and a gruelling tour cycle, singer/guitarist Mark Holley retreated to Iceland where he set to work on the band’s sophomore record. The breathtaking wilderness of the island country not only inspired the album’s title but also provided the perfect environment to create a much more atmospheric, dynamic album.
From the moody opening chords of ‘Breathe’ to the tear-jerking finale of ‘Float On’, the listener is taken on an adventure, as if transported to the majestic country that inspired the album. The upbeat ‘Manic in Me’ tells of a desire to ‘get out of here’, while the sleek, gorgeous ‘The Big Wild’ conjures up images of sweeping mountain ranges and canyons.
Holley’s vulnerable yet impassioned vocals bring a sense of honesty to the album’s more sensitive moments, bringing out the raw, genuine emotion in Black Foxxes’ music. ‘Oh It Had to Be You’ slowly builds as Holley’s voice becomes increasingly powerful, while swelling strings bring the song to a heart-wrenching crescendo. On the similarly climactic ‘Take Me Home’, his voice ranges from hushed and delicate to a dramatic falsetto, reminiscent of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke or even Matt Bellamy on some of Muse‘s earlier works.
Just as the beautiful landscapes of Iceland mask the island’s violent, volcanic geology, Reiði conceals a fiery rage beneath its pretty veneer. After a relatively light first half, the album enters darker territory with the fuzzy dream-grunge of ‘JOY’, hinting at a more aggressive sound. This aggression fully surfaces on the explosive ‘Flowers’, which builds into a furious climax featuring some of Holley’s fiercest vocal work to date.
Reiði is an accomplished second record that shows Black Foxxes are far more than a one-trick pony. The band demonstrate a greater emotional depth than on their debut, striking a balance between light and dark, laid-back and aggressive, tender and anthemic. With all these elements in place, Black Foxxes look set to become a household name in the British alternative rock scene, and they will have this record to thank for it.