Release DetailsLABEL Life Sentence
RELEASED ON 3/8/2005
Above This Fire
posted on 3/2005 By:
From the city that brought you Buzz Beer and the inspiration for the seminal baseball flick, Major League, comes a well-manufactured metalcore album that reflects the city’s industrial past. The respectable Life Sentence Records has unearthed another above-average metalcore act in Above This Fire. And I use the term “unearthed” deliberately, because it points the way towards a certain band’s style that they have embraced, with just a touch more of the archaic elements that put the “core” in metalcore.
I’m a big nerd, so the way I view the metalcore genre is like a graphical triangle, with three distinct sounds representing each corner. One being a truer hardcore sound, rooted in punk, and played today by bands like Agnostic Front and Comeback Kid. Another corner is inhabited with bands that Hatebreed seemed to have spawned, like Bury Your Dead and The Acacia Strain. Call it what you will, “thugcore”, “moshcore”, whatever, but it’s basically breakdown after breakdown - all aggression and energy. The third corner would be the bands that are simply metal but get tagged with the –core seemingly due to their fanbase and American origins, such as Lamb of God, All That Remains, and Shadows Fall. You can accurately place 95% of the metalcore scene somewhere in this triangle, depending on their influences. Above This Fire fall right smack in the center.
In Perspective is a broad sample of what today’s scene has to offer. The vocals are mostly done in that desperate, spoken cadence, with a pretty high-pitched voice, and sometimes conveyed through pained screams or gang vocals. Musically they mix in a lot of melodies with a lot of breakdowns, interspersed with lighter throwback riffs. They do have two guitarists, so that opens up the occasional lead/rhythm interplay. The drumming is as technically varied as the guitarwork, going from mind-numbingly simple beats to nifty kick fills in the same song. The production is low-end heavy, probably to better suit the booming breakdowns, but it leaves the real riffs and melodies lacking in intensity.
I give the band credit for the title track, where the two guitarists get together for a short instrumental. It’s not long, but they stumbled onto a good melody and took it as far as they could, short of driving it into the ground. The best actual track is probably “Designing a Requiem”, which will earn approval from the Unearth faithful.
The secret to writing a competent metalcore album must be out in the open, as there is a serious glut of passable albums coming out nowadays. I feel that Above This Fire will suffer from this, because they’ve written a fine album, but it fails to transcend the trappings of the genre. I wish them the best, but there are a hundred other worthy bands clawing and scratching right along with them.
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