Firebrand Super Rock – Firebrand Super Rock

As this album came through to be reviewed the feeling and inner groan was not the most positive one has to be honest, nothing against the band who were completely new to these ears and awareness, but the fact this was a classic heavy metal band, a genre that is as appealing here as Bieber singing lullabies outside the window in the dead of night, even the band’s name Firebrand Super Rock hardly inspires enthusiasm.  But wonderfully those thoughts and expectations were thrust firmly where the sun has no access as the Edinburgh quartet and their self titled album proved a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There is still not a conversion to the classic side here but certainly the release reminds one that you can and should never judge until letting sounds play within the ear a few times.

Firebrand Super Rock is not a classic nor does it bring any new ground breaking sounds to the ear but what it does do is deliver songs that eagerly please and tempt the senses whilst being skilfully and impressively varied within its overall rock sound. The core element of their sound comes from NWOBHM but to this there are distinct elements of metal, southern rock, even traces of sludge metal seeping out of the rock textures the band create. This results in songs that ripple with enterprising diversity even if overall the songs are heavy metal hearted. There is more than enough to intrigue and engage even the more adverse attitudes to the genre, yes holding hands up here and admitting this is one rather decent album. 

Since forming in 2004 Firebrand Super Rock have impressed and pulled in strong acclaim and support through constantly gigging their dynamic live show and sharing stages alongside the likes of Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon and Amon Amarth and festival appearances such as Bloodstock Open Air and Hammerfest. The album gives evidence that live the quartet of vocalist Laura Donnelly, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Frazer Marr, and Andy Scott on drums, should be one exciting and explosive proposition. Signing with Rising Records this year the new album is the worldwide re-release of their debut and the chance to finally stretch their might far afield.

On Firebrand Super Rock the band are no slouches either, the release stirring and rampant with thundering riffs, incisively cutting melodies and glorious soaring vocals from Donnelly, from opening track ‘River Of The Dead’ the band leap at the ear never letting go until the closing seconds of the triumphant stroll of closer ‘Cleansed By Fire’. Each song offers something different and engaging as well as sumptuous heavy riffage, metallic intensity and razor sharp melodies and solos. ‘Into The Black’ with the impressive bass of Marr dripping dark intent something he blesses the whole album with, ‘Iron Void’ with southern touches bands like Down would be proud of, and the best track on the release ‘Falling Down’ all excite and rile up the heart, the latter especially with its intensive riffs, acidic guitars and energised melodies. 

For someone with a natural aversion to the genre Firebrand Super Rock has done nothing but impress. It will not make the top ten releases or go down as an essential listen here but it is an album that one can easily revisit often and eagerly. For all lovers of classic/heavy metal this is a must check out and though Firebrand Super Rock have yet to truly find their own sound their obvious craft and imagination shows that it will not be long before the band become distinctly unique and their name on most lips.

RingMaster 07/12/2011

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When Words Fail – Eyes On Everything EP

Though only forming in the dying embers of 2010 UK melodic post hardcore/rock band When Words Fail has and are ripping attention from elsewhere to look in their direction and with the release of their debut EP Eyes On Everything they surely stand on the precipice of explosive acclaim and recognition.

The quintet from Swindon is amongst a burst of bands fusing melodic rock with an intense metal/hardcore sound, and on the evidence of the three tracks that make up the EP they are one of the more instinctive and creative. From the first song there is a confidence that drips from the sound and an obvious skill to vary songs from each other and within whilst still keeping a sound that is theirs alone. Initial thoughts before letting the music immerse the senses was that this would be another competent band that do all the right things well but simply slip alongside many others to blur into one. From the opening title track that expectation was completely chased from the room, the songs unique, vibrant and most of all wonderfully satisfying. 

Eyes On Everything’ opens up the fun and initially is a song in shape and form that one would expect from this type of band. Well written and crafted it merges swooping melodies from eager guitars and the fine clean vocals of William Hargreaves backed nicely by guitarist DJ Harman and his slightly raspier tones. The song up to three quarters in is solid and enjoyable but once the striking and melodically intrusive almost progressive guitars sounds from Harman and James Broadbank explore the song it raises to a much more intriguing and loftier level., evidence there is much more to this band, which the following and in this personal view better songs prove.

Second track ‘Over Again’ announces its arrival with strong melodic rock guitar riffs brought forth alongside thrusting and heavier chugging power and deep basslines from Scott Betz. If there is a criticism of the release it is that Betz’s play is overpowered on the songs and often one has to strain to find his undoubted skill clearly enough. Drummer Jamie Loddington powers the track forward with a firm and direct attack without destroying the melodic side, allowing the again great vocal mix to reign over the song.  The track punches hard whilst at the same time caressing the ear with intelligently crafted songwriting and melodies.

Something For Nothing’ closes of the release with more and even stronger pummelling riffs and rhythms, the song the winner of ‘best in show’ on the EP. As much as the first track is agreeable and strong this is the forte of the band, hitting hard whilst enticing and teasing with elegant melodic and emotive choruses. Once more When Words Fail show how accomplished and skilled they are as a unit and individually, as well as being songwriters that know how to craft songs without resorting to easy tricks or going for the obvious just to grab easy but unsubstantial attention.

Eyes On Everything is a definite check out release, its freshness and vibrancy sure to revitalise opinions in what is at times a predictable and stale genre currently. To be honest as great as the EP is one still gets the impression there is much more to come from and within the band. The feeling is that they have yet to truly find their distinct and surely what will be a truly impressive sound. The anticipation is immense for what is ahead but for now When Words Fail has just given the end of the year a major boost of quality.

RingMaster 07/12/2011

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