Monday, April 28, 2014

BROTHER FIRETRIBE: ”Diamond In The Firepit”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Spinefarm 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a Brother Firetribe fan. I gave their first album the full points and while I didn't review their second one, I would have given it the same rating too. Now, five long years since the release of "Heart Full Of Fire", the band's ready to unleash their third album to the world. With two superb predecessors, they've certainly given themselves a challenge.

I've now lived with these songs for a week or so, and I think I'm ready to unleash my review... My first impression of it was a bit lukewarm, sure it sounded good but I didn't really find too many standout tracks. While I still think it's not quite as good as the previous two albums, after serious spinning I've found the standouts and I can assure you that this is quite a diamond of an album indeed.

The album starts with an intro that reminds me of the intro of Honeymoon Suite's "Love Changes Everything" - a band tuning their instruments and and warming up, then getting their sh*t together and finding "the groove". The groove that's found is called "Love Is Not Enough", a suitably fastpaced first track but frankly not one of my favourites. And come to think of it, none of the opening tracks of the band's three albums are among my favourites... Is it just me or is the band lousy at finding the killer opening track?

"Far Away From Love" follows, and I like it better than the previous track, but still, I'm not getting the chills yet. Next one is the first single "For Better Or For Worse", and now we're talkin'! The first time I heard it I wasn't totally sold, but it took only a second listen and then the deal was sealed. Glorious hooks, AOR majesty! I've gotta wonder - why wasn't this the opening track?

The album's most ballad-like track "Desperately" oozes radio hit potential, it's probably even suitable for the adult contemporary stations, to be played alongside Phil Collins and Chris Rea. That's not a dig at the song, I like it a lot, I'm just trying to say that it has crossover potential. "Edge Of Forever" is one of my favourites, reminding me of eighties cult AOR acts like Fortune and Touch, and the "manly chanting choir" is pretty hilarious. The subtle keys of "Hanging By A Thread" will please the AOR fans I'm sure, and some of them might pick up some similarities between this song and Shy's "Young Heart". It's a good song, but I like the harder-edged "Trail Of Tears" more. Somehow it sounds like it could have been penned by Michael Bolton back in 1987. Yes, it's that good.

Two rather familiar songs are next in the tracklisting. The cover of Sammy Hagar's "Winner Takes It All" is quite faithful to the original and it's a good addition to BFT's series of "eighties' soundtrack song covers". "Tired Of Dreaming" was previously recorded by The Magnificent, but it's not really a cover as it was written by the BFT guys. The BFT version is easily as good or even better than the first one, but it being so familiar kind of ruins its' impact. I would have rather heard something new instead, maybe it could have been saved as the bonustrack for Japan or something.

"Reality Bites" is another very good hard-hitting rocker, and the slower "Close To The Bone" closes the show. It's one of the album's growers, initially I didn't really think too much of it but over the last few days it has raised its' profile.

To sum it up, "Diamond In The Firepit" is easily one of the better releases of this year and that fifth R wasn't really too far for this album either. The production is top-notch, Pekka Heino is still one of the best Finnish hard rock singers and the keyboard work takes me back to the eighties' glory days. Even though Emppu Vuorinen would have the skills to turn this into a shredfest, his playing is very tasteful throughout the album. What else... oh yeah, the artwork has divided opinions, but I kind of like it - it's probably a delibrate throwback to the mid-eighties. Keeping it old-school...


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