Sometimes live isn't easy for a reviewer. It's true, I was listening to an album that has potential, but after two songs I removed the CD from my player and decided to try again later. This happened to me with Grind The Ocean recorded by the British band The Safety Fire. I tried again and again, and although this band isn't bad, it's all a bit too much for my ears. Let me explain why I have difficulties to listen to this album.
The Safety Fire want to push back the boundaries of progressive metal, which I think in itself is an interesting fact. However, musically I find it hard to qualify The Safety Fire as a prog metal band. In my opinion the genre that comes closest is a mixture of alternative metal and post rock or post metal. Derva Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles, the two guitarists in the band, are at their best when they play heavy riffs, but the repeating of these riffs tends to nu-metal. The bass guitar of Lori Peri has an interesting sound, a kind of low rumble to contrast with the heavy guitar melodies. Drummer Calvin Smith must be on acid or he suffers from ADHD! On several tracks his drumming is so prominent that it guides you away from the song itself, but I have the most difficulties with singer Sean McWeeney. He has a brilliant voice for alternative rock; listen for instance to Circassian Beauties and you'll get my drift. Unfortunately he's screaming most of the time; every time a song gains power, his voice turns into horrible screams...
I like the heavy sound of the music, but the melodies are repeating themselves too much thus taking away my pleasure of listening to this album. Although I fancy bands like Sepultura, Slipknot and Machine Head, it seemed reasonable that I had some affinity with The Safety Fire. Well, the song Sections has some similarities with Machine Head, but it's way too chaotic to my ears. The sound of the drums is too much emphasized, but main point of criticism remains McWeeney's singing. He has proven to be a great singer, but mostly he's ruining his vocals cords. Another problem could be the high level of individuality of the band members, which doesn't do much good to the compositions. A clean voice and more coherent compositions could result in more interesting songs.
The Safety Fire is a promising new band searching the boundaries of progressive, alternative and nu-metal, but I prefer to stay on the safe side and enjoy a slightly more structured form of metal and fusion.
**+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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