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Fire everywhere - 87%

Gutterscream, February 26th, 2005

“I’m the fastest, loudest son of a bitch when it comes to rock n’ roll.”

Here’s a band that never really propelled their sound in one direction and were always one of the more non-categorical bands that arose from the early '80s. Despite this, they have always had a distinct sound to me. If you had first heard their soggy debut, Heavy Metal Heroes, then you may not have been expecting much from Fire in the Brain, but if ‘84’s Third Warning had been your first stepping stone, you may have been galvanized to seek out their previous endeavors. Luckily, my first taste of this Swedish/Finnish (= Scandinavian) group was the awesome “Search Lights”, the album's screaming kick-off. With my then-neophyte interest aroused, I sought out Fire in the Brain.

There is a substantial difference between the debut and sophomore release that doesn’t take a NASA code breaker to discover. Not only is the overall sound thicker and produced with bombshell extravaganza, the songwriting and execution of it all had been thrust to much more aggressive levels as opposed to the jogging pace and lightly belligerent tone of the debut. On top of that, The Oz's (Eero Hamalainen) paltry singing style jumped/was thrown off ship for the more forceful and insistent vox of his new pseudonym Ape De Martini, his voice lightly rough in a medium-high pitch that commands much of the attention in the faster tracks.

“Search Lights” extracts all the heaviness from the debut and explodes with it here. The chorus is dynamic in its anxiety and the coolly simple main riff has me rockin’ out in my jeep with the top down and doors off even today (and I actually received a noise ordinance ticket a few years back while blaring it on a main drag). “Fortune” slows for a breather, sounding like it could’ve been a debut leftover, then with the wild opening guitar solo of “Megalomaniac”, that composure is lanced and refills with more whiplash-reared distress. Eerie is the atmosphere of “Black Candles”, an epic length tale about black magic and Satanic rituals that builds with impending heaviness several times until its detonation of speed at the end to close side one.

Boisterous “Gambler”, one of my faves, is a perpetually-driven, chorus-ratified instigator that has no problem setting up camp in my head, meanwhile “Stop Believin’” and “Free Me, Leave Me” maintain the album's hard-hearted fervor. Finishing the lp is the title cut, intriguing with its 'dainty' chorus and breathing the hope for the next release.

Unfortunately, this is the only Oz slab I truly like to any grand extent, for Third Warning’s songwriting swayed into subtler, slightly more watered down realms somewhere in the year between releases. Anything beyond that wasn’t really even Oz anymore. Well, at least they gave us Fire in the Brain.

Even more useless fun fact 87d:-: I really learned the nooks and crannies of Fire in the Brain while reading the book Helter Skelter for a 9th grade comparison/contrast English paper (comparing Manson to Lizzie Borden, for which I would learn there is no comparison) by almost unconsciously flipping the record so it just played over and over and over. If you thought "Black Candles" was creepy on its own...heh. Now I can’t think of one without the other.