Above This Fire
In Perspective

I really wanted to like this, even more so after the blistering opening track ‘Reaction’. Commercially gleaned metalcore with a healthy dose of modern punk and old school hardcore (Bane?), but in the end the album loses steam and ends up being lumped in with the vast hordes of faceless middle tier, cliched metalcore.If the whole album followed the energy and conviction of ‘Reaction’ with its gang vocals, pained screams and fervent pace, this might have been as good as Killing the Dream (my initial comparison) but it tends to lose energy and focus on the more commercial (He Is Legend, Atreyu, etc) side of popular Hot Topic emo-core. That being said, I can see this being a big hit with the ‘kids’. It has just enough burly street cred for them to name drop and impress their friends, but enough chirpy top 40 punk ‘isms for said fans of Comeback Kid and friends to enjoy once they get it from the mall. The main vocals the same sort of spoken word/shouted prose shout similar to Bane’s Aaron Berdard, injected with some high register screams that are slightly grating.

Musically, there’s barely an original note played here despite the high energy as Above This Fire’s mix of galloping power chords and slightly forced machismo breakdowns have all been done before, mostly better, but there is something about their sound that points to commercial success in lieu of the fact most metal heads will turn their nose up at this faster than if sniffing Anna Nicole Smith’s workout undergarments. There’s a few awkward blast beats (‘What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse’, ‘Miles Apart’) that try to give Above This Fire some semblance of metal respect, but it’s a pretty weak fa’ade, especially when ‘Miles Apart’ is followed by the uber clich’ of the requisite emotional/ introspective/melodic refrain of the title track (I HATE weak title tracks).

After the said title track the album briefly gets more hardcore/metalcore with ‘Designing a Requiem’ (could there be a more succinct metalcore track name?), and ‘When Screams go Silent’ with their gang vocal choruses and galloping/choppy mix of riffs and predictable breakdowns. But ‘City of Locust’ brings the punk with a short burst of commercial frivolity. ‘My Kiss of Death’ tries to make amends but the squealing duel harmonies between the forced chugging.

Despite my lukewarm response to this album (mainly in part to the fact I have a lot of metalcore and most is better than this), there’s no denying this is a solid album for the genre and I have a sneaking suspicion that the mainstream/Hot Topic/MTV2 crowd will pick this lot out to follow.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 11th, 2005


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