Black Foxxes – I’m Not Well: Cathartic And Honest: A Retrospective by Mark McConville

Staring into the abyss, that darkened void, can ultimately hinder your cravings for the light. Joy is something we all look for in this hard-boiled world, where war pulverises and where news stories send us into a state of worry. Masterminding our own journey can juice us of energy, choosing what path to follow is complex. One could take us to utopia and the other could take us to suburban decay. Breaking through barriers is commended, standing within the constraints of isolation, not so.

Sadness is everywhere. It mutates, it puts us in a stranglehold, and it can break us. Depression nestles profoundly, niggling and spreading, causing anxiety to reach a dizzying high. And some of us walk through life disenchanted and disenfranchised, catching common colds, and trying to mark in our diaries when change will commence. Optimism is a feeling well all must embrace, but on days where the rain and wind intertwine, it can be like sawing through brick.

Music challenges our minds. It can spearhead revolutions and pin us to its arresting core. Its foundations grow into something complete and extraordinary. When listening to a song that resonates, one which is cathartic and honest, one which isn’t repetitive, it will lift you from the dirty ground and it will make you channel your emotions.

English band Black Foxxes are a collective of musicians who channel their emotions fully. The act, bridge the gap and try to revolt against the incoming tide of misery. Although they try, melancholy usually strikes heavily. This doesn’t taint the overall composition, it enhances it. There’s no dip, there’s no breakage, the music is still wholesome but it may take time to value the art.

Black Foxxes Cover Art.

Throughout out their 2016 debut album I’m Not Well, Black Foxxes expel the notion of optimism. Although, it didn’t extract them from the rock pack. The album ranked highly and racked up many raving reviews from music critics. Many journalists mentioned the emotional connection they had with the record. And they’re not wrong as it is truly sparkling and deeply cathartic.

As debut records go, I’m Not Well is a raw masterstroke of guitar precision and lyrical significance. Lead singer/guitarist, Mark Holley sings with subtle edges, sending his voice through the motions. The whole band are talented, there’s no doubting that, and I’m Not Well showcases this in abundance. The whole concept is compelling, the dark world presented is gloomy, but the subject matter astounds.

The subject matter is a not a preview into the mind of Holley, it’s a stark insight. His mind-set is evidently corroded with depressive snapshots and snippets. His dreams are crossing over into nightmares. But, he’s truly a wordsmith, a poet, a maker of gripping sentences. He’s also on the cusp of losing his mind, but swiftly draws himself back into reality.

I’m Not Well is portrays sadness at all levels. It could be pigeonholed as an emo record, but it’s more than that. It delivers sentimental worth. It’s not loose on development or story. The lyrics are concise and intelligent, fired at the world like an arrow, through the toughness of its skin.

The album evokes. Providing 11 tracks. The title track starts proceedings. It is a song draped in sorrow. It drags the listener in, and becomes a token of survival. The guitar strokes are mind-blowingly coherent. The words have been formed out of drastic experiences. Holley bellows ‘As the sun comes quickly and the moon begins to fade, I keep drinking alcohol so I lose my fucking ways’ the protagonist is clearly lost in a bottle, fighting crimes and looking for the hand of redemption.          

Throughout the whole compendium, questions are answered, pain is described, and desolation is a dominating factor. Husk showcases this well. Empowering guitar lines stretch far and add bite to the discerning lyrics ‘Oh I’m wasting away, lost, shiver, husk, my love fades when you’re not around’ love is all also a prominent feature on this disc too, but it has been smashed and dragged through the dirt. The character of this fable lacks hope.

Although it’s an emotive album, at points, there is sheer intensity. Barricades are breached, boundaries are crossed, and the music becomes louder and unapologetic. Holley doesn’t want his voice to be a limp noise either, he wants to be heard through the musings that have been placed in front of the faithful who choose to listen. Many have immersed themselves into the true workings of I’m Not Well, embarking on trying to unravel its plot, its storyline.

Not many albums have an outline. Some are plain and incoherent. I’m Not Well is bursting with poetry and consistent narration. Taking it a part, would take time, but if you’re ready, then by all means fondle its under-skin. Waking Up is a track which engages and is profoundly gratifying and abrasive. From kick-off, the song emerges as a brash contender, and Holley doesn’t hold back. He screams and sneers, proving he is a competent vocalist.

I’m Not Well is a remarkable listen. It’s a tour de force of a record. From the instrumentals to the lyrical fluency, it dazzles. The opus may not be for everyone, it may not appeal to the upbeat traveller who strives for the buzz of jubilation. It is a depressive album of tales which will connect largely as a crutch for the alienated and the introverts. Yes, it was released 4 years ago to a sceptical audience, but they began to see its potential and they began to delve gallantly into its sombreness.

Bio: Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist who has written for many online and print publications. He also likes to write dark fiction. 

Black-Foxxes.