At first aural glance, Brother's Keeper seems annoyingly unoriginal, yet to pinpoint why seemed impossible. After careful study, it seemed the vocals destroyed the listening experience for some, overtaking the exceptional musically adept skills of the rest of the band. The myriad of Zack from R.A.T.M., Dennis from Refused, that guy from Downset, and the blond haired, evil twin brother of Flea from Biohazard, is too far removed from the usual brutal/melodic dichotomy hardcore vocals of today. After a few more trial listens, the vocals become a quiet annoyance against the wonderful backdrop of razor sharp, intelligent compositions. Slowly growing in value to accentuate each track, they even become comfortable at times, showing promising signs of what Mike Ski shows for talent. Case in point: The album's centerpiece (and strongest overall song), "The Poison Plot," has a vocal section that could be culled from any of Boy Sets Fire's finest emotional moments. As melodic desperation mixes adversely with screaming rage, a cavalcade of meaty and angular guitars barrage the listener as drummer Zach Hudock holds a mid-paced hopping hardcore beat (think razor sharp Boy Sets Fire). In fact, the two bands hold several truths in common, including sly, stinging socially critical lyrics -- a prerequisite for any absorbing hardcore band. Not exactly communists, like counterparts BSF, the brunt of "Fantasy Killer"'s anger seems directed at our media, the brutality of the American dream, evil corporations, and the need for humans to find escape from this. Quite a pleasant package, indeed, as they spread happiness and joy to all. When the music's heavy, it crashes in the Poison the Well corner, but when it mid-paces, Brother's carries their own brand of brash hardcore, as propulsive angular (think Cave-In or Refused guitar, only a diet version) guitar and throbbing bass bring almost every song into home plate. Take "Give It a Name," with its obtuse Refused riffing (think "Summerholidays Vs. Punkroutine" off Shape...) during the chorus and its rhythmically pummeling midsection. The Failure-esque love song from the road, "Worst Spot in the Van," comes complete with cosmic guitar accessories. The more this album sees the light of a CD player, the more personality and creativity seem to seep through, involving the listener and shrouding the somewhat sub par/grating vocal performance. Fittingly, Fantasy Killer ends with "Runaway Human," a feedback-filled X-Files sample-fest, drawing inspiration from one of that show's finest hours (or 44 minutes to be exact). Work on the vocal performance and keep the creativity.
Fantasy Killer Review
by Jason Hundey