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On the California end of things of late it seems like there’s a concerted effort to reclaim the lost glory of Brazil, at least if thrash newcomers Fueled By Fire are any indication. 4 years and an almost entirely different lineup ago, there was a strong tendency towards a “Beneath The Remains” sound to their somewhat derivative debut (alongside some Exodus and Dark Angel tendencies). A new vocalist and a cleaner production have only served to take this band even closer into the jaws of late 80s extreme thrash, as if continuing on a predetermined template and leaving very little to the imagination.
That’s sort of the charm behind an album like “Plunging Into Darkness”, it leaves practically nothing to be speculated on, it is simply a take it or leave it album. Amid the flashy guitar solos, blazing riffs, high octane drum work and modestly present base lines is a clear formula of vertebrae annihilating brilliance that doesn’t really want for innovation. Barring an occasional acoustic interlude in “Evoke” which basically segues into a straight-line riff assault in “Evoke The Curse”, there’s little deviation from the speed and aggression factor. The only real surprise to be found on here apart from the lack of clicking in the kick drum sound is that vocalist Rick Rangel sounds almost identical to the blunt shout of his predecessor Gio Herrera.
There’s no real mystique to an album like this, save its devotion to the more mystical past exemplified by 80s Sepultura, which only come through in terms of brutality on here. There are occasional references to magic craft but it might as well be the ravings of a spellbound berserker referencing a spell that caused his fury. “Rising From Beneath” and “Sickness Of Humanity” offer up the more unfettered side of the coin, breaking only for occasional slower points as the guitars pummel what’s left of the listener’s spine. “Unidentified Remains” hits on more of a “Reign In Blood” feel and outright avoids anything other than a singular, blistering speed set with a brief solo, and sort of hints at the eventual collision this style of thrash had with death metal about 23 years prior. There’s an occasional gang chorus nod to the German scene here and there, but the main focus is the instrumental assault, and the intensity factor is definitely a cut above most.
It’s extremely difficult to dislike an album like this because of how brutally honest it is, yet it’s also a tough album to outright love for the lack of any real intricacy in the songwriting. This is an album that could very easily have been written in 1987 and the band makes little secret of their desire to relive that time period. Far be it for me to ruin anyone’s good fun and say that there’s no such thing as time travel yet, and besides, if you’re going to relive a great era of music, why not one where leather was king and masterful guitar work was law?
Plunging Into Darkness is a much better effort from Fueled By Fire than their debut release, Spread The Fire. Their sound has not only progressed but matured greatly I think. Spread The Fire was pretty solid, but this album really shows what Fueled By Fire is all about. It seems now that they realized that talking about killing posers and how thrash is back got dreadfully boring after every “NWOTM” band started to do the same. So they decided to sit down and write a somewhat original thrash album.
This release is pretty good. The riffs got better, there are great twists and turns that weren’t really expected and some good solos, the bass is somewhat audible and you can hear it every once in a while, the drums are pretty decent with some more variation with pedal work and fills than on the last release, and the vocals surprisingly advanced quite a bit, with better screams and a sort of death/thrash feel, almost like thrash legends Dark Angel. But the group chorus shouts are really disappointing. It sounds as if they are trying really hard to make it seem like a crowd at a live show were doing it. This is my only real complaint about the album.
I will admit, I really liked their first album. It was actually one of my favorite newer thrash releases, but then I heard this album. This album is taking it a whole step further, much like Bonded By Blood’s second release, Exiled To Earth. Both albums show great improvements. I recommend you buy this one, especially if you liked Spread The Fire.
Best Tracks: Rising From Beneath, Unidentified Remains, Plunging Into Darkness, Eye of The Demon, and Sickness of Humanity (best track by far)