Album review: Fiddlehead – Death Is Nothing To Us

On their sublime third album, post-hardcore supergroup Fiddlehead finally start coming to terms with death…

Album review: Fiddlehead – Death Is Nothing To Us
Mischa Pearlman

Fiddlehead’s previous album, 2021’s Between The Richness, began and ended with a recording of poet E. E. Cummings reading his most famous composition, i carry your heart with me. There are no such bookends on the post-hardcore supergroup’s follow-up, though Death Is Nothing To Us is no less a full-rounded and conceptual record than its predecessor.

But then, what else should be expected from a supergroup whose vocalist, Pat Flynn, was in Have Heart, one of the most important hardcore bands to ever exist? That’s not to take away from Fiddlehead’s other members, either – drummer Shawn Costa (who was also in Have Heart), guitarists Alex Henery (Basement) and Alex Dow (Big Contest) and bassist Nick Hinsch (Stand Off, Nuclear Age). Because there’s clearly something special that happens when the five of them get together. What’s more, they do so with near-perfect execution as well. Death Is Nothing’s twelve songs barely last 25 minutes, but it feels – once again – like this is something significant, something special, something that captures the essence of the humanity and the dark heart at its centre – the knowledge that everyone and everything dies.

It makes sense. After all, the band was born out of grief as a delayed response to the death Pat’s father about a decade before. Death Is Nothing To Us – as the title suggests – is no less haunted by mortality and the ghosts of those who are no longer with us, but it feels almost more philosophical in its approach, focusing less on specifics than a more universal concept of the end. It’s no less personal than the band’s previous two full-lengths, but you feel the distance between life and death, existence and unexistence, has grown wider.

Take, for instance, opener The Deathlife, a blast of frayed nerves that rally against the depression that inspired it and which sees Pat bellow ‘I just want to be pure’ repeatedly at its end, but which is delivered as much with defiance as with anguish. Elsewhere, specifically on Loserman and Sullenboy, the band deliver two brooding slices of their distinctive, slow-motion post-hardcore, where time slows down and the world stops as light tries to find its way through the darkness.

The doom and gloom (and the battle to banish it) isn’t just limited to existential issues, though. On the marvellous chug of Welcome To The Situation, Pat laments the environmental and political crises currently threatening the world, while True Hardcore (II) is a heartfelt tribute to the music scene that has given him so much over the years. That appreciation runs deeply throughout the record – so much, in fact, that on The Woes he speaks directly to the “strange, stuck-in-bed, death-obsessed Fiddleheads”, after whom the next song is named.

Penultimate track Fifteen To Infinity is a morbidly upbeat love song that sees Patrick proclaim ‘Well, if I'm gonna die then, I wanna die with you right by my side/Layin’ there dead in a big ol' bed after a long and well-lived life’ before flipping it: ‘And if I'm gonna live then I wanna live with you right by my side/Hand in hand sitting on a park bench in every stage of life.’ Of course, he knows – as we all do – that the latter option is ultimately impossible, and on last track Going To Die, he comes to terms with that fact. ‘See you on the other side,’ he intones. ‘I know I will, but I don’t wanna die.’

That’s the triumph of this album – it turns death into both everything and nothing, by reminding us that, even when we’re no longer here, we’ll still exist within the minds and memories of those who love us and who – for a while, anyway – are still here.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Militarie Gun, Narrow Head, Title Fight

Death Is Nothing To Us is released on August 18 via Run For Cover

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