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When it comes to controversy in metal circles, barring perhaps the antipathy that many have towards metalcore, the retro thrash explosion of the past 5 or 6 years has been a pretty contentiously received phenomenon. Most of it stems from the view that these bands aren’t offering anything new, let alone definitive, while any argument with regards to the quality of the product are usually either ignored or only given a passing consideration. For someone who is of the older school of thought on the genre, there is a lot of love and devotion to the 80s eras of the bands that these newer groups are imitating, and with that either comes a desire for more of it or a hostility to it because it is seen as the present generation encroaching on the sacred territory of a previous one.
Now this isn’t to suggest that there aren’t some valid criticisms these bands, as they do tend to come up short in a few areas. Modern production practices have yielded some bands that are willing to imitate the riff work of older bands and maybe even the vocal style, yet offer up a product that is a little too squeaky clean and sometimes overproduced for attempting to recapture the raw nature of primitive thrash. Likewise, lyrical content and image is largely either derivative or even at times somewhat comical, though to be fair a lot of early pre-thrash metal albums had similar issues. All of this is, nonetheless, relevant to some extent, particularly as far as Fueled By Fire goes given that each of these issues plays into their side of the retro metal coin.
“Spread The Fire” is among the better constructed albums offered up by younger bands of the orthodox thrash persuasion, but it is also one of the most indicative of the divide between newer bands and the older ones that they imitate. Most of the lyrics consist of thrash metal worship, which when coupled with a highly cliché image and a rather goofy yet satisfying album cover (who doesn’t love seeing a couple of emo kids getting their asses kicked), gives off this so-called “true metal” aura that walks a thin line between the over the top presentation of Manowar and the mocking satirical one of Spinal Tap. So for someone who is looking for a serious venture into political protest in the vein of Megadeth, or even the “try hard at being politically active and serious it but fail miserably at it” approach that many other 80s bands ended up in (Anthrax, Testament and Nuclear Assault), this album won’t cut it. Be that all as it may, most fans of Tankard would probably eat this up, at least if they want to be consistent.
But at the end of the day, anyone who really puts his thrash metal, or metal in general, as the top priority will not give a shit about any of those side issues. What really matters in this business is the neck-wrecking goodness that comprises all of the elements of a good thrash album, namely killer riffs, a solid rhythm section, a raunchy yet organized vocal delivery, and the right attitude, and on this end of things “Spread The Fire” is a solid venture. It is essentially a faithful to the point of being highly derivative composite of about 7 Bay Area/West Coast bands, crossing the line of succession from Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Dark Angel, Testament, Death Angel and Vio-Lence. The era it most resembles is the 1984-1988 time period when everything was about speed and fury, rather than the slowed down version that began to loom with the entry of “South Of Heaven”.
One area where this band seems to have a bit of uniqueness to their sound is how they navigate the wide history of thrash metal. For the most part the album is an exercise in the riff happy, blazing mayhem that typified “Darkness Descends” and “Eternal Nightmare”, but occasionally the band will throw in these Iron Maiden-like melodic references in the guitar work that is actually even more in line with NWOBHM practices than “Kill Em’ All” was at certain key points. There’s a few riffs on here that almost sound like direct quotations of signature parts to famous 80s classics, particularly the main riff to the title track that sounds almost exactly like the chorus riff on “Merciless Death”, or the principle riff of “Thrash Is Back” which definitely reeks of “Dyer’s Eve”; top this off with a bass drum sound that is somewhat click-happy and a guitar tone that is somewhat similar to early 80s Metallica, and it is easy to see where the Metallica comparisons come from.
Putting aside purist objections to the recent phenomenon that this band is associated with, this is a solid textbook thrash album that shouldn’t be dismissed on said grounds. At times it gets a little bit goofy, to the point where you might be content to just bang your head and try to tune out the comical lyrical content. Speaking for myself, I don’t think Metallica and Exodus put out enough albums in the 80s and have no problem with this kind of music being brought back, provided that 5 Rs of thrash (riffs, rhythm, riffs, raunchy shouts, and riffs) are present and of a quality nature. It’s not something that will demand a play every single week of the year, but it’s good for an occasional spin.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 30, 2011.
A few weeks ago, I somehow came to the conclusion that the New Wave of Thrash Metal is very similar to Tiny Toon Adventures. For those of you who didn't grow up in the early 90s (Or just have no soul), TTA was a show that centered around characters that were more or less updates and caricatures of various Looney Tunes icons. While a few bands like Evile and Warbringer are beginning to embrace more unique distinctions in their respective sounds, Fueled By Fire was firmly trapped in the midst of this phenomenon on their 2006 debut.
Musically, this album is more or less a dead ringer for the classic Exodus sound that appeared on "Bonded By Blood" and bits of "Pleasures Of The Flesh." Vocalist Gio Herrara attempts to do his best Zetro impression and the guitar tone/riffs sound a lot like those heard on "Bonded By Blood" with some better production thrown in. Thankfully, Exodus isn't the only band that has inspired them for there are several guitar harmonies that immediately bring to mind the classic Iron Maiden sound. I also detect a few influences from "Show No Mercy" Slayer, the earliest Overkill albums and a bit of Hirax, but these aren't as strongly pronounced.
Going along with the musical style, the band's performance is pretty solid and executed in a decent fashion. The guitars are definitely the strongest aspect of the band with the bass standing out on a few occasions, but the drums' "clicking" sound leads them to stand out in a less favorable fashion. The vocals are also worth noting for they will probably be the biggest thing to divide listeners but I find they fit the music well enough and aren't too grating...
The songs go along with these influences nicely and mostly consist of fast paced thrash numbers with energetic riffs, solid harmonies, and a few nifty hooks here and there. There are also a few more ambitious moments in structurally complex "Thrash Is Back" and the acoustic intro on "Massive Execution" though the latter bit feels a little more like "No Love" aping than a true hint at progression. "Dreams of Terror" may be my favorite track of the lot with its chanted chorus and horror themed lyrics though I also enjoy the "Metal Command"-esque hooks on "Striking Death."
Now if the music wasn't enough to suggest FBF's imitative nature, then the lyrics will certainly do the job for they often come off as having been written by an exaggerated bastard child of Paul Baloff and Joey DeMaio (…Don't ask). Greatly obsessed with the awesomeness of thrash metal as well as the importance of killing poseurs, the band’s lyrics have seemingly lost the subtlety that had been seen in the genre’s legends. As much as Baloff loved to root out all the poseurs that turned out at old Exodus shows, I don’t think he ever used the actual word in a single BBB lyric. Hell, it just makes me think of those stereotypical veterans who try to be homophobic but are just trapped in the closet themselves! Hopefully this problem is fixed on future efforts before they join Pantera in the Insecure Bands' Hall of Fame...
All in all, this is a fairly decent album that provides a solid portrayal of the thrash revivalist movement. There are definitely some good songs on here that are worth checking out but I do think that there are some other bands doing this sort of thing better. In the meantime, I just hope they put out another full-length soon for I would hate for them to be seen as nothing more than a mere artifact in a not-so-distant future…
My Current Favorites:
“Thrash Is Back,” “Striking Death,” “Massive Execution,” “Dreams of Terror,” and “Command of the Beast”
The most recent addition to my thrash collection, 'Spread the Fire' has earned its position among my top 10 thrash / speed metal albums. A good mixture of melodic guitar riffs and solo's, fast paced drumming and aggressive vocals makes this album a headbangers wet dream, from beginning to end.
Fueled by Fires influences are quite distinguishable throughout the duration of this record, with Iron Maiden like riffs (especially during 'Thrash is Back' and 'Spread the Fire'), Heathen style melodic solo's and speed metal style drumming (with much emphasis put on the double bass drumming and snare symbol thrash beats).
Much of the lyrical content, though on a larger scale than most other bands, is purely about thrash and metal itself, with at least 3 songs purely dedicated to metal (Thrash is Back, Spread the Fire and Metal Forever). While this is a common lyrical theme for many thrash bands, i do think it becomes a bit overused as you continue to listen to the album, which is not to say that these three songs don't kick serious arse, but just that it gets a bit old after a while.
Vocally, this album does a lot to impress at times but does let down on some rare occasions. A good aggressive vocalist is essential to thrash, and while FBF does deliver on this instance, there are several parts throughout the album where i think his voice doesn't suit. One thing, however, that is absolutely perfect vocally is the use of gang vocals. Not overused, but not a one off, the gang vocals throughout this album are absolutely flawless, the perfect thrash sound used at exactly the right time, especially during the chorus of 'Spread the Fire', which really adds to the overall experience of this record!
Okay, a lot of you are thinking, 'A band that sings this much about thrash, do they actually thrash!?' Short answer, yes! Long answer, Yes, but there is a lot more speed metal incorporated into this album as apposed to other extreme thrash bands. While nearly all thrash fans will not complain about this fact, those of you that are out for just a flat out, purely extreme thrash album may be slightly disappointed, and should go and buy 'Chemical Assault' by Violator. What this album does deliver though is so much more, and something that is becoming more and more of a rarity in thrash metal, and that is melody and technical / intelligence, both in the guitar riffing and the overall quality of the musicianship as a whole. Each instrument compliments the others, the drums compliment the bass, the bass compliments the guitars, and the guitars just downright compliment everything!
In conclusion, this is a great way to start FBF's legacy, and a very impressive first album! While not perfect, it is a step up from most other speed / thrash albums that are being released at the moment. Fans of Bay Area thrash as well as those of you who just appreciate great musicianship will not be let down by this. Spread the Fire!!
So here we are in the year 2008 and the number of bands in this New Wave of Thrash Metal are unbelievable. We have bands playing from everywhere and bands playing every type of thrash metal imaginable. Here we have Fueled by Fire hailing from California and thrashing in the vain of Exodus. They even have a little classical guitar part before the song Massive Execution just like Exodus had on their debut Bonded by Blood. The best way to describe FBF's music is a combination of Bay Area thrash and NWOBHM.
Thrashing, poser killing, and moshing are the lyrical focuses on their debut Spread the Fire. And no they aren't trying to prove anything here or be something that they aren't, they're simply singing about what they love and is there anything wrong with that? Fuck no! There's a reason that FBF sticks out in the NWOTM, their lyrical themes are different from bands like Warbringer and Municipal Waste, and so is their style of thrash. I mentioned before that it sounds like a combination between Bay Area thrash and NWOBHM, now let me explain. The greatest example of this would be the second song on the album, Thrash is Back. We have the song opening with an extremely fast riff that is totally played in the vain of early Exodus. The vocals here are also reminiscent of the Bay Area bands with it being much more uncontrollable and filled with tons of high pitched screams. There's a break in the middle of the song which plays a slower paced riff but it's still that good old trademark thrash riff of a bunch of palm muted notes on the A string and then crunching power chords come crashing in! Then there is a guitar harmony part which sounds like something right off of an Iron Maiden CD but with a modern twist on it.
Thrash is Back is easily the best song on the CD, it really has it all. Fast riffs, slower riffs, screaming vocals, chant along choruses, memorable riffs, and oh yeah did I mention riffs? Now that's not to say that the rest of the CD sucks, it doesn't! It's just that Thrash is Back seems to be the climax of the CD and for a while actually I didn't listen to anything past that song. But with my quench of thrash growing I went past this initial song and headbanged through the rest of the CD. There really are alot of great riffs and awesome leads to be found throughout the rest of the songs. Striking Death and the title track offer some great mid paced riffs while Dreams of Terror will have you banging your head until your neck breaks!
The bass also offers us some extra depth on this CD and is easily heard grooving away in the mix. There really aren't any parts where the bass is given a lead in the mix except in the song Dreams of Terror. The drummer here is pretty solid and brings alot of old school drum beats back to the table. This guy plays pretty fucking fast! Now I have the Metal Blade re-issue so I'm not sure what the sound quality was like on the original pressing but on this edition everything is very clear and it sounds great. The guitars have a very heavy and distorted sound to them while not being to muddy. The only complaint that I have is that the lead guitar in solos isn't really projected and almost gets buried beneath the rest of the instruments.
The bonus song Chaotic Punishment is probably my second favorite song on the album with a bunch of different riffs and it is incredibly fast! The other bonus song Put to Death also has really strong riffs and I can see why Metal Blade wanted to incorporate them on the re-issue!
FBF is the band that is leading thrash's fight against posers. They seem to know that the enemies of thrash didn't die with glam back in the 80s, it simply transformed into metalcore and dethcore. I love pulling into my school's parking lot with FBF blasting and screaming about murdering posers! My parking spot is where all the little scene kids hang out before and after school and just the relentless aggression in the sound of FBF is starting to drive them away. This album offers a bunch of solid songs with really no flukes. It's just that some songs stand out much more than the others. (Listen to Trash is Back already!) Stacking them up against other NWOTM bands they're pretty high on my list only being topped really by Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust and a few others. So stand up fellow thrashers, whether you're into all the new bands or you were part of the old guard, it's time to take a stand against posers and Fueled by Fire is here to lead the charge!
"In the circle pit you'll die
Mess with us you won't survive
Poser's they are gonna pay
Sudden death is here to stay
So now you better run!
Thrashers they will have your head!
The blood upon the steel!!
L.A. Thrashers will have you kneel!!"
After becoming a huge fan of Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, and Merciless Death, I decided to look for more of these 'retro-thrash' bands, since they seemed pretty good. First I found Violator (amazing), then I found Evile (awesome), then, well, then I found Fueled By Fire. I had been hearing things for a while about this band, most notably in the liner notes to Merciless Death's Evil In The Night Cd. I decided to check em' out after I found Spread The Fire at a used record store for $3.99. I was reluctant though, looking at the tracks I noticed the first song was called "Ernest goes to Hell". Ernest Goes To Hell? What the fuck is that? Is that supposed to be funny? The only thing that made me laugh was that every member of this band looks like a talentless Chuck Billy!
The rules say not to make fun of a bands image, but seriously, this band takes it WAAAYYY overboard. Their cover depicts a thrasher choking an emo kid. Okay, thats pretty cool. Also on the cover is a sticker proclaiming "THE RETURN OF OLD SCHOOL THRASH!!!!". Ummm, okay Im aware this is a thrash metal record, thank you very much. Then there are an over-abundance of lyics in the vein of "The Return Of Thrash". It gets extremely ridiculous looking at the band members posing on the inside cover. Almost as if this band is trying to convince the listener that they're thrash metal by saying it over and over and over and over. Theres an Aerosmith song I think these guys should hear, its called "Let The Music Do The Talking"
Now to the actual music itself. Its really not too bad. Pretty generic riffs, mid-paced, campy lyrics, un-inspired blandness. Actually, this is really bad. Not one track stands out. The only ones I can remember is 'Ernest' and 'Thrash is Back', only because they were insanely stupid and lame.
All in all, FBF are one of the leaders of the retro-thrash movement (yes, its a fucking MOVEMENT!), but its surprising considering there are much better bands in the genre. Just looking at FBF, its no reason why people dont take retro-thrash seriously. Theyre posers, plain and simple. They take the image, the lyrics, and the music into new heights of heavy metal mediocracy. FBF have no power, nothing that makes them stand out from a crowd, and leaves the listener with a bad tase in their mouths, like theyve just listened to 45 minutes of a new spinal Tap album, only its more depressing then funny.
I want my $3.99 back.
So here they are, the offspring of legendary, yet somewhat forgotten Thrash classics such as Bonded by Blood, Show no Mercy, Eternal Nightmare, Among the Living, Feel the Fire, and the list goes on.
It's safe to say that Fueled by Fire is proudly leading the charge of the thrash revival, not only were they one of the first bands to get signed, but they've also been around for some time.
If you are looking for something original and new, you can easily skip this album. For this album pure bone crushing, fast shredding, no nonsense straightforward thrash.
In fact, if I didn't know better, I would have thought this had been released somewhere in the eighties. And that's a good thing, I guess.
The album contains 8 songs, and one intro called Ernest goes to Hell. They're all pretty similar, yet not too repetitive. The guitars are really aggressive and fast paced, mostly tremolo picked. The drums are pounding old fashioned D beats along with the riffing. The double bass work is pretty impressing at times too. The vocals are shouting and have some awesome screams that might bring Araya to shame.
The only thing it's lacking is better solos. They're all pretty much standard and mediocre.
I can't say complain on the production, but note that this review is written for the original release, not the Metal Blade re-release.
So if you are looking for a Thrash album you can listen to while beating the shit out of posers, look no further. Thrash is back, and with a vengeance.
Outstanding tracks: Thrash is Back, Striking Death and Command of the Beast.
This year saw us, at kvltsite, unanimously drooling at Dublin Death Patrol. A little later, the Swedish tip-of-the-hat to both the kraut and the bay area thrash scene called Blood Tsunami made us sit up and take notice but to our disappointment, didn't really stay too long in our players. Also if you want more proof, just do a check on the number of thrash metal albums that have been covered in our short four month long occupancy on the interweb. Point being, thrash metal is good. That's something we all agree upon here more than anything else and we get extra kicked when there's a new thrash album out.
So when the folks at Peacedogman.com pointed me to this new California based thrash metal band called Fueled by Fire and also had the keywords Exodus, Hirax and Maiden in the review, I immediately had to check this out.
The band, consisting of Gio on vocals and guitars, Rick on guitars, Anthony on Bass and Carlos on Drums, is living 1982 including the tight denim, the leather and the sneakers and having an absolute blast doing that. I mean, if there ever existed a Reenactment Society for music, these guys will have lifetime membership there representing the glorious early 80s underground.
Exodus is indeed the main influence here and it's good to see a thrash band influenced by them for a change. (We've had enough of Slayer clones for starters.) You even have Gio sounding a lot like an awesomely drunken Paul Balloff. The riffing and songwriting too, safely hover around some of the tricks that Exodus and the other early Bay Area thrashers employed back then. Your standard early 80s asskickery - raw and in your face with great speed picked riffs. The band also recalls some of the finer moments of the preceding NWOBHM style riffs and even incorporating a couple of sweet harmonies. Guitar solos in general are wild, manic and sloppy but not always in a good way, and this is one thing that's detrimental about this album to me. More Holt-Hunolt worship would've probably helped.
My favourite tracks (at the moment) are Thrash is Back, Dreams of Terror, Chaotic Punishment and the title track. This album also includes Massive Execution - a corny acoustic intro of Bouree leading into a predictable big distorted E and the superfast classic thrash metal worship which you can't help but dig with a huge grin on your face.
Definitely check out Spread the Fire if the idea behind a new band playing derivative thrash floats your boat. Damn cool production too.
Within the last couple of months I have been finding many bands that have come out in the last couple of years that play old school thrash. Fueled by Fire was one those bands I found out about, here is my thoughts on there album "Spread The Fire".
Once I found there album "Spread the Fire" I took a listen and it sounds like you're back in the bay area around 1986 with all those great bands that came out in that era. Then you realize its just a year old album. This album has everything that an old school thrash fans wants. The fast pace guitar solos, the traditional thrash vocals that makes you want to mosh. "Spread the Fire" has spirit of what thrash metal was about in the 1980's. Fueled by Fire lives and breath thrash metal. "Spread the Fire" does have some riffs similarly to the songs from the early Metallica albums but with the latest stuff that's out there you wouldn't mind this as much since most of the music that's out now is the same crap.
Joey Vera does a very good job remixing and remastering this album for its Metal Blade debut, the tracks sound a lot more clearing then the original release. The original didn't sound bad but this version has a better recording quality to it.
Some of my favorite tracks are "Thrash is Back" and "Striking Death". Fuel by Fire has the stuff to become one of the top metal bands that came out in the last seven years.
Fueled by Fire plays a level of thrash that pays great homage to the greats of Bay Area Thrash, most notably is early Metallica. This groups of guys seemed to have listened to a shitload of Kill 'Em All, Bonded by Blood and even some Among the Living. The description on their Metal Archives page says Thrash/Speed which is a very accurate representation of their music; the riffs sometimes border on the ludicrous for being so fast and the solos come and go with much intensity.
Despite being formed in the new millenium, Fueled by Fire have captured the old school thrash sound perfectly in every aspect it seems - the production isn't fully polished but is still composed evenly enough to fit the music and each instrument. The music refreshing to hear in this day and age because in the midst of all these newer 'groovier' bands we have Fueled by Fire playing pure take no prisoners thrash metal with no exceptions.
The songs themselves are generally shorter and to the point which is what I enjoy, no 30-40 second beginning acoustic guitar opener until the thrashing actually starts - the songs go straight into full force with one exception: Massive Execution. It's the shortest song on here besides the opening instrumental and it starts with 10 seconds of acoustic slow picking and I think, "Great, here's the shitty song"... but shortly Fueled by Fire attack and execute me for my disbelief! The song splits open with killer, uber-fast riffage and intense drumming assaults my ears and eventually ends up to solo-time and continues to prove me wrong! My favorite song on the album! You will be yelling alongside the vocalist "Thrash is back!" because that along with several other choruses are catchy and fun enough to sing along with and headbang heavily to the crunchy title track.
Each member of the band has shining moments - the guitars being the highlight playing at high speeds and perfectly flowing with the music making this real thrash. The bassist has his moments where the basslines are prominent and make the song almost, he shows up in several songs. The most unique part of the music is the vocalist, who has an obvious punk influenced tone but fits along easily.
Spread the Fire is an all out thrash fest that assualts your ears with competent thrash metal that fits well with the big guns of the subgenre. Everything from the blazing guitar solos to the ferocious and melodic riffage that is equally speedy is highly early Metallica influenced which I think is great but at times it seems it's too akin to their idols. Either way it's a minor problem that gets pushed away in the attack that you will experience. Fueled by Fire's debut is a fun album that all thrash fans will surely enjoy.
Bay Area thrash is back with a vengeance. Over the past few years many bands have been forming in this territory. Anger as Art, Hatchet, Merciless Death, Taunted and Fueled by Fire being amongst the more notable ones. While these bands are getting much praise some of them are getting a lot of criticism to with Merciless Death and Fueled by Fire getting the bulk of it. The reasons for this is while being the biggest known ones outside the scene they don’t tend to bring anything new and original to the table. Merciless Death is criticized for being too much like Dark Angel and Fueled by Fire just for sounding to much like early Metallica and the cliché lyrics about metal, thrash and crushing posers. While these criticisms are valid I don’t really care. Sure it is not original but that doesn’t mean it sucks. It fits the old saying ‘Don’t change a winning formula.’ And that is exactly what they do and they excel at it. In a nut shell I suppose this sounds most like a cleaner and tighter version of Kill Em All. Take Metallica’s track Whiplash which by many is regarded as their best track and speed it up a bit and create a whole album of songs like it and you should get something like this.
Feel the Fire has it all; blazing riffs, and blazing solos backed up by a clean punkish styled vocalist. There is no compromise at all with the modern scene. You won’t find any bullshit groove riffs. Nope this is straight up thrash and the intensity never lets up. The band uses higher scales similar to Whiplash and Heathen giving a very upbeat happy sound which may disappoint the fans of the more brutal German style of thrash but fans of the just mentioned bands should be happy with this.
The only criticisms I can think of is that some of the tracks sound to similar to each other rather than have their own sound and some of the riffs seem a bit to much like Metallica such as the title track containing essentially the same riff as the main one in Metallica’s Whiplash and Metal Forever having a very similar galloping riff as The Four Horseman. Hopefully in the future Fueled by Fire will release an album with tracks that have their own identity and break away somewhat from the Metallica mould. But as it stands Feel the Fire is extremely fun to listen to and a few rip off riffs aren't necessarily a bad thing.
Standout tracks include Metal Forever, Betrayal, and Striking Death.