We first came across Fist Fight in the Parking Lot via their self-released EP about a year or so ago. Verdict? Awesome, but unfortunately we can’t show you the proof because we’re programming the archives so they work properly due to the fact they’re in an older version of PHP no longer supported. Take our word for it, we liked it. However, one thing, dat band name. Seriously, we ripped on them then and we’ll do it again, why, just why? Hey, just opinion, just a friendly stab, and it seems they’re aware of it because the press release with this new one says right there, plain as day they don’t “care if you like their name.” “Glad we got that out of the way,” they say. Well sure, hey, we’re licked, nothing stops our foolery like a band that doesn’t give a crap, unless they suck and need to be more self-aware. Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, hereby referred to as Fist so we don’t have to make this review five paragraphs longer, are allowed to rock the WTF name, because their music is anything but. Sometimes this kind of attitude works, but it requires a good sound, not cockiness for the sake of cockiness, as a gimmick even. Still treading on the self-released path, sure, Fist is making some headway. As far as we remember, when we gave them their first review, they had perhaps a hundred and some change fans, and in that little year it’s blossomed to almost three thousand. Pretty impressive, and it’s probably because of their sound and honest attitude. This time around it’s more refined, more awesome, more beast, and those vocals, aw yes, so girl, but less Joan Jett and more Lydia Lunch, if you never heard her before and imagined her ready to shove her heels into your eye. Suffice to say that was a bad reference because she doesn’t sound like this, so just go with the visual part.
First time around, Fist had a sound that verged more on hard rock, with touches of metal via some heavier chording and none of that mechanic shop tenderness. This time it’s different, as a whole. Production, about the same amount of clarity, though slightly more grimey, which works well with their sound. The bass is thicker than a bog, and hella deep, exemplified via the opening of the first track. The guitars have a more sludgy approach, and there’s a stronger sense of ‘the doom’ throughout Year of the Ox, but yet they’ve retained more of that hard rock feel that was evident on their first release, including some classic-sounding solos. However, in spite of how standard it seems at first, Fist actually has a number of interesting layers in this release, that become evident quite quickly, more layers than you’d expect. You’d probably judge them on a first glance via a press shot as another one of those bar bands you down a few drinks to, buy their CD-R and regret it thereafter. Not so here. Plus, the darker presence you’ll find in Year of the Ox probably works much better for their direction than their previous work, S & M.
Year of the Ox is a splendid release, allow us to extrapolate using uppity terms like that so we don’t seem as course as we usually do. We usually reserve that for stuff that sucks; there’s something about bad, pretentious music that makes our blood boil out of our eyes, onto our tongues, and then it spatters all over the fallen as we spite them with our words. So many times you have a band that pretends it’s been “fueled by whiskey” when really it’s been “fueled by breast milk” since it hasn’t gotten itself off of its mother’s teet since it was 15. Fist embraces the former kind of mentality without making a big deal out of it, and their music carries this same sort of take-it-as-it-is approach. It has to be something you’re genuine about, you can’t simply pretend to play the role, you have to actually not give much of a feck about it, otherwise the image is lost, and so is your music. Year of the Ox goes through several commendable riffs and alterations in sound, but is definitely a step above S & M. The only real complaint is that it’s short, we were hoping for a full-length. This kind of verges on EP but it breaks the 30-minute mark, so there’s still a nice representation of what they’re about. In addition, the vocals, can’t get enough. Female vocalists, especially in metal, are underappreciated, usually because they’re doing the same funk the guys do, but here Abby works her voice like a murdered lover. There’s a pleasant gloominess to her delivery, with occasional roars, a sour flow with grit that draws it all together and makes you collapse. So, summary time, great grooves, great sludge, awesome release. Get it.