Inspired following frontman Mark Holley’s extended trip to Iceland in between records, Reiði is the second record from Exeter’s Black Foxxes. Much like the geography of the country from which it takes its influence, it’s equally as imposing as it is staggeringly beautiful.
Taking its name from the Norse word for ‘rage’, one would be forgiven for the assumption that Reiði would be a record of sheer aggression. The fact is however, that it’s one hinged on balance and on dichotomy. “This whole album is based around light and dark, rage and happiness” frontman Holley explains. And on listening to it, it’s impossible not to hear.
Opening track "Breathe" immediately establishes a loud/quiet dynamic that’s used liberally across the course of the album; a sonic metaphor for its emotional peaks and troughs. And while the ease with which it brings to mind the likes of Manchester Orchestra, A Republic of Wolves or even at times Death Cab For Cutie, suggests there’s a definite sense of nostalgia underpinning the whole thing, Reiði never once feels derivative of, or particularly in debt to, any of them.
Lead single "Saela" sees Black Foxxes at their poppiest, while still retaining an undercurrent of darkness that bubbles beneath the fuzz and manifests in the songs subject matter. "Am I Losing It?" wrestles with quiet melancholy and airy optimism, throbbing towards its conclusion like a despondent Death Cab; a subtle strongpoint on an album brimming with highlights.
Though a record of torn emotions, veering from elation to desolation even with a single track, Reiði is far from directionless. Resolute in its delivery and steadfast in its ambition, Black Foxxes have delivered an album that’s both hauntingly fragile, aggressively unapologetic and arguably one of the strongest releases of the year.