Steve Moore has been plugging away at this ol’ twin guitar heavy melodic heavy metal lark for quite some time.
Fireland was his band that came after Riffmaster General and one that’s been easy to overlook due to his joining the higher profile Stormzone.
That’s despite prior releases getting incrementally better each time, and more pertinently, a long list of eyecatching support slots, tour backups, Wacken and Bloodstock.
So with experience like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this new album is so solid: and yet it does, at least initially. It sounds massive, and the product of a band like Primal Fear rather than a labour of love from Belfast.
Steve is of course a hard worker when it comes to sound and this one is yet another example of the excellence that can be achieved by a dedicated audiophile: the production is absolutely incredible, by any standard, but all the more so considering he did it himself.
Anyway, the influences are all there from the crunchier end of the traditional metal spectrum: Primal Fear, Gamma Ray, Helloween, a bit of Megadeth.
The stomp of ‘My Enemy’s Enemy’ is impressive and allows new vocalist Dave Brown from Chaos Frame a wide range to soar over. What’s impressive is how quickly you’re able to memorise the song – basically in there from the second spin.
I’m not so gone on the ‘intrepid hero’ concept that runs through the album, but then again it’s heavy metal, so it’s hard to complain – and tracks like ‘Burning Scarecrow’ do have a heroic charge to them.
There’s a kooky, 80s thrashy feel to ‘Hell Hotel’ with it’s groovier touch and more characterful vocal delivery. I’m not sure if all the harmonies work here, but then the feel is supposed to be strange I guess.
Similarly I’m not sure if ‘Fallen II’ really needed nine minutes, but its sprawling metallic balladry does allow some Candlemass style vocal work in the lower reaches – made only slightly odd by the sexy whisper “I miss you David” in there at the start.
While we’re on that note, references in the lyrics to ‘your fucking boyfriend’ probably dont square too well with the fantasy dragonslayer artwork, but no matter.
In fact it’s a fairly punchy track that goes through the gamut of guitar hair metal styles from start to finish.
I think the whole album is perhaps a track or two too long, but there’s at least some nugget to enjoy in each track, and the commitment to the form is admirable.
So too is the metal kick out of it all; it’s not soft, it doesn’t pussyfoot around, and the cracking lock of the double kick to the guitars gives it all a thoroughly crisp and Germanic edge locating it strictly in both the Heavy and the Metal.
It’s another valliant effort from Steve which will likely be appreciated in its niche, and who knows – probably more good supports and fest slots. Will Fireland ever be a going concern in their own right? I’m not sure. It does still feel like a project rather than a band coming to knock your door in, but it’s undeniably strong, and compliments the likes of recent Terminus output well.
3.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 31/12/16