As great a success as British post-hardcore has been in the past, its overall impact has been waning fairly considerably recent, despite the influx of new bands refusing to slow down. It definitely still has a presence, but most of that comes as a composite sound, used to bolster other genres further for a crop of more unique sounds that Britrock has become reliant on recently. It’s not as if it can’t thrive on its own though; just look at Phoxjaw, a band who’ve been compared to the likes of Cave In and At The Drive-In, with the sort of grassroots ethos that’s become the norm for so many British bands, not to mention progressing through the same milestones of acclaim and festival slots as a great number of their peers.
On its own, that might all seem pretty standard, but Goodbye Dinosaur… is definitely approaching the path of imminent Britrock success story from an interesting angle, and one that’s doing a lot to mark Phoxjaw out as distinct prospect. For one, the onus is placed on grittier, more intricate takes on melodies tied together with heavier guitar tones and a particularly strong sense of groove, factors that give tracks like Triceratops vastly more sinister overtones that feel just unhinged enough distance themselves from a surprising amount of other bands. This is definitely an EP that brings the underground permutations of post-hardcore forward, with a heaviness and greater experimental instinct that widens the breadth of Phoxjaw’s possibilities considerably. There’s nothing that could reasonably be considered a radio single here, and yet there’s something so magnetising about the likes of Lottery and Dinosaur Bones because of that.
It’s definitely a case of twisting conventions to achieve the best results, and while there are moments where Phoxjaw are clearly reaching above their station (not to mention an occasionally strained vocal performance from Danny Garland that’s presumably meant to convey a similar lucidity and edge but can’t quite make it), but for the most part, Goodbye Dinosaur… feels almost fully realised, at least in its intentions. There are some instances of looseness that could be tied up – Plastic Wedding comes to mind here – but that same track also builds into the apocalyptic pileup of bass rumbles and snarling darkness that are setting Phoxjaw way ahead of their contemporaries.
And when the time comes where they’ve honed these great starts into something that can remain that way, there’ll be a level of depth and subversion of post-hardcore expectations that’ll see Phoxjaw’s presence in the underground soar. Already, Goodbye Dinosaur… is laying down the ideas thick and fast, ready to be refined in future for something really great, and with what Phoxjaw are already capable of, that should come in no time at all.
For fans of: Cave In, Black Foxxes, Haggard Cat
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Goodbye Dinosaur…’ by Phoxjaw is out now.