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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)
Fueled by Fire's debut album Spread the Fire has to be one of the most boring thrash albums I have ever listened to. Here we are, four years later with their new album, Plunging into Darkness. Why I even listened to this really puzzles me considering how much I fucking hated their first album but over those four years I guess there was a slight chance there sound would have progressed, they drop the whole THRASH! KILL POSERS! thing and maybe write decent music. Almost.
Everything on this album is better than the previous. Lyrics are better, riffs are better, production is better, vocals are much better, you can actually hear the bass! But there's still something missing...
I'll start off with the good things. The vocals on here are really fucking good, way better than before. They almost have some sort of a death metal feel to them, which sounds killer. He also pulls off some screams which are awesome. The riffs are your usual thrash riffs but they actually mixed them up a bit here. Where as before, they just did your usual speed/thrash riffs which were completely predictable. The solos are awesome, way better than before. There's some riffs here which are actually good and original. You can hear the bass perfectly, a side from a few little fills here and there it's pretty dull. The drums aren't doing anything spectacular, just keeping the music together.
Now, you're probably wondering why did he give this a 69 if he says almost everything on here is good? The number one thing. The songwriting. It isn't bad, but the formula is just so predictable and it gets so boring. Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Solo, Breakdown, Verse, Chorus. Some songs don't use that same formula, but nearly the exact same but mix the solo and the breakdown up a bit. I'm sure by their next album they will realize this and release and album I can actually call great.
I'm impressed that they dropped the whole thrash thing and worked on the music but i'm still waiting for them to do something unpredictable, something that I haven't heard before or at least not much. I don't recommend buying this album without listening to it first. Next time around they'll probably do good!