By Sam Graham
It’s been a good year so far for Fire In The Empire. They’ve been playing all over the North-West side of our fair nation, they’ve managed to blag themselves gigs supporting Australian thrash-metallers Elm Street on their English tour and they’ve recently released their first EP, To The Thinking Man’s Horror.
The Chorley-based four-piece’s EP doesn’t screw around with intros- and why should it? Instead it busts straight in with the title track and a lick that gets the EP off to a catchy start. Before I’d heard them, drummer Dean Marshall (with a name like that, being a musician must feel more like a calling rather than a thought-out choice) described themselves as being somewhat like Black Album (1990) era Metallica. I see now that what he meant by that was the simple, but heavy and catchy music. From the opening riff of To The Thinking Man’s Horror to the final chord of the final track, Break Away, it’s one hook after another, be it musically or vocally.
To The Thinking Man’s Horror and Fear And Time seem to be the EP’s attention grabbers, luring you in with slow catchiness and groove, while Twisted Tale is their most old school sounding, again slow, but a heap heavier with as welcomed thrashy middle-section. The final song, Break Away is their most epic track. At just over seven minutes, with a long building up intro and harmonised vocals in the verses, it’s a corker.
The four-track EP feels long enough for your money’s worth as there’s only one song that’s under the five-minute mark. Vocalist Mick McCullagh carries each verse into the chorus where all the members of the band hit their stride. If I had to compare McCullagh’s vocals to anyone, I’d be best saying someone like Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) with less drone and more balls.
It’s difficult to pick a favourite song as they all have their own strengths, but I’d have to say Break Way for the lead-guitar work in the post-chorus bridges. It’s been stuck in my head since the first listen.
If I had to pick out a flaw with the EP (and I do. It just wouldn’t be fair without it) I’d say thatFear and Time seems a bit droning after a while. It’s a good song, and kudos to McCullagh for his bluesy as hell guitar solo, but for me, it’s the weakest one of the four.
The boys of Fire In The Empire wear their influences on their sleeve and it shows all throughout these four tracks. As well as Metallica, I’d say there’s a dose of Black Label Society in the mix too, and that has given the music a certain amount of swagger that’s very welcomed, but there’s hints of several others, even if just for a moment. Bands like Alice In Chains, Evile and even dabbles of Guns ‘N’ Roses are in the mix too. The list could go on.
If you’re a fan of old school metal that has a dash of grunge to it, it’ll be a fiver well-spent to get yourself a copy of To The Thinking Man’s Horror. All in all, I have to say with utmost honesty, this EP is irritatingly good, both in the music and the recording quality, which is top-notch. I've been waiting for them to finish it for ages so I could review it, but it seems the amount of time they put into it has worked out for the best.
Well done guys.
Devil-Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \n