Fire From the Gods is an Austin, Texas-based metal group, and like most musical acts, this quintet has a message. The name of the band evokes images of Prometheus grifting from the gods for the betterment of mankind. And boy, did he suffer. No good things come without some degree of suffering, but in some way, somehow, from the suffering of few comes the benefit of many. Coming up with good music is no facile feat, but because Fire From the Gods does what they do, the world is a better place. Their latest album, Narrative, was released last August under Rise Records. With play on Sirius/XM’s Octane and five star reviews across the board on iTunes, the album is certainly something worth banging your head to.
The album begins with “Public Enemy”, guitars pleading for ears to listen until, like tuning the radio to the right channel, the drums come in and the unabashed metalcore vocals begin. With ominous chords lurking behind momentarily rapped lyrics and a freewheeling chorus, Fire From the Gods at once conjures auditory images of Linkin Park and Slipknot, as well as daydreams of the savage delights of a good mosh.
The group released a video for the next song on the album, “End Transmission”. Depicting two boys riding their bikes to an abandoned house and dismounting to explore a dark stream behind, they find a crystal. As the boys explore the crystal with their flashlights and their powers of perception, the viewer sees shots of the band playing and hears AJ Channer’s vocals. Suddenly, the crystal explodes, transporting the boys and band to outer space, planets and physics notations swirling around them. AJ sings of improving himself beyond expectations, “transcending to a new dimension.” The boys float through space, discovering the heavens and finding a wormhole. (And they say kids don’t understand the gravity of the situation…)
“Excuse Me” has a video of its own, with the band and fellow headbangers reveling in the glory of the rhythm and sound before a backdrop of graffiti calling for unity and respect. This track relates the pressures of society to compartmentalize itself based on race, religion, upbringing, the state of your lawn, and all that other stuff that doesn’t – or rather, shouldn’t (let’s not kid ourselves) – matter. “My soul is under pressure / and it’s killing me,” sings AJ. What an uncomfortable situation to be in, but stealing fire from the gods never was easy. Ultimately, those who resist that pressure shall prevail.
“Composition”, begins in full force, with high-powered guitars and drums lodging themselves in your brain just in time for AJ’s vocals to come in in a verse with sparse vocal fold adduction for a delightfully loud proclamation in favor of living for yourself, rather than for The Man. What would the world look like if everyone chose to live a genuine life, rather than to “feed the machine”? Perhaps it would look like Scandinavia. They do know what to do with primary colors. And currants.
“Evolve” is slightly more laid back than the previous tracks on Narrative. Slightly. The lyrics question the possibility of human improvement with the current societal structure, “How can we evolve if we live in the shadow?” In a shift from the softer toward the harder, “Pretenders” is like a snarling dog precipitating against a chain link fence, spittle flying, impervious to whatever pain may be inflicted on its snout by the fence. With powerful guitar holding the melody together (Rob Zombiesque, at times), the drums keep the song alive with a pleasing arrhythmia, and those vocals – such range! “Pretenders” is a masterpiece track boasting the range and variety of Fire From the Gods. These guys are a group who could do anything with sound, and I am so grateful that they have chosen to make this track a reality.
The next track, “Diversion”, is a raucous delight. With nearly supersonic everything, the song pulls the meaning of fun out of the track’s title like a confectionery pulling taffy. “In Spite of Doubt” is a supercharged track that juxtaposes one extreme of growled vocals in the verses with the other extreme of a smooth, nearly crooned, chorus. The lyrics tell of nearing the depths of negativity, while retaining the knowledge that it gets better: “Inside paralyzed, reaching for the outside / Inside I will find a way to carry on and survive.”
The penultimate track of the album, “Lifeline”, maintains the group’s message of persevering through the tough times and, despite the temptation to give up one’s originality, to resist and persist. The track is optimistic. If there is some venue for religious services with metal music (in this beautifully, curiously disparate universe there must be), “Lifeline” would be a perfect song to add to the repertoire.
“Into the Blue” has the magical musical power of a track that is equal parts headbanging, close your eyes and give in to the waves of sound, and steel yourself for a moshing good time. The track uses oceanic imagery to sing of the societal undertow that threatens us all. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual. Will you let the undertow sweep you out to perdition, or will you stand up to the natural dangers threatening to derail your survival and swim independently, parallel to shore? The danger never lasts forever, but you have to act.
Fire From the Gods will be taking the stage at Carolina Rebellion this year. Come, mosh, and be merry. This talented group of musicians has done the world a massive favor by doing what they do. Check out Narrative and prepare for an uplifting and electrifying show.