Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Summer is here! The new Brother Firetribe album is about to be released! Yes, the band that defines the term ”Summertime AOR” has put together a fine batch of songs that ooze sunshine, good times and wild nights. Their previous album ”Diamond In The Firepit” was a somewhat darker effort, but as the title suggests, ”Sunbound” is heading to a happier place and time again.
The first song that was released from this album was the awesome ”Taste Of A Champion”, an insanely catchy tribute to the motivational 80ies soundtrack songs. That song alone proved that BFT was back in a big way. The follow-up single ”Indelible Heroes” was a strangely bland one though, despite its’ poignant lyrics about the rock heroes that we have lost recently. I was fairly confident that it was merely an one-off and I’m happy to say that I was right. It’s possibly the weakest track of the album and to be honest, it’s not that bad anyways.
On their previous albums, the band has chosen some of their less outstanding songs to open their albums, but on ”Sunbound” they finally get it right. The first ”real” song of the album, ”Help Is On The Way” starts the album with a powerful riff, a bit Fortune-like melodies and a strong chorus. It’s followed by the two singles mentioned above and ”Last Forever”, another summer anthem in the vein of ”I’m On Fire” or ”Wildest Dreams”. Even though one’s plowing through sleet to work or school, this song will make it bearable - trust me, I’ve tried it. ”Give Me Tonight” is a keyboard-driven uptempo pop-rocker that works well as a sequel to ”Last Forever”, even though it’s not quite as brilliant.
The moody, dark ”Shock” is a bit of a departure, a balladic track with layers of keyboards. It’s definitely not a typical AOR ballad, more like an eighties’ synth-pop song with Emppu’s tasteful guitars on top of it. Not one of my biggest favourites but still an interesting and enjoyable track. The heavier ”Strangled” reminds me a bit of the band’s previous album, it’s not a bright and breezy summertime anthem but very good nevertheless. Hard-hitting keyboards, killer hook and frantic guitar work from Mr. Virtanen.
The mid-tempo AOR of ”Heart Of The Matter” has a positive message and a pleasant melody, while ”Restless Heart” is the 80’ies movie song cover of the album. Originally recorded by John Parr for the Schwarzenegger flick ”The Running Man”, this suits the band perfectly. Pekka Heino doesn’t have the rasp of John Parr but he makes this his own by adding his own stamp to it.
One of the album’s top tracks for me is ”Big City Dream”. Fine traditional storytelling in the lyrics and a chorus to die for. It doesn’t get much better than this! The album’s epic closing track has a rather strange title, ”Phantasmagoria”. Wikipedia says that it’s ”a form of horror theatre that used one or more magic lanterns to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, typically using rear projection to keep the lantern out of sight”… Tribe’s ”Phantasmagoria” involves a woman haunting the storyteller. Or something like that, it’s all so mysterious. Musically this song is a distant relative of the other ballad ”Shock”, only even more layered, ambitious and melodic. Phantastic even.
Flawless production, great playing and singing, several of my favourite songs of this year included… I seriously doubt there will be too many albums that will be better than ”Sunbound” this year.