As much as I enjoy my comfort zones when it comes to music, I equally enjoy music which is going to challenge my perceptions of what rock and metal can be. Being flung out of your comfort zone whilst being told something is still metal is a jarring experience. Moreover, it’s a risky move as you’ll either want to play the album on repeat or find yourself needing a palate cleanser.
Fire From the Gods finds itself in the former camp. After hearing “The Voiceless” from new album Narrative Retold, I was hooked. Whilst their sound is perhaps more complex than what I usually find myself listening to, I was able to spot instantly what they’re wanting to share with the world. Metal and hardcore with a dusting of hip-hop and rap beats to deliver a powerful message.
Fronted by AJ Channer, it documents his experiences of growing up around the world as an American with Jamaican roots. While it may be his own experiences, Channer points the finger at what is wrong in today’s society at large. The afore-mentioned “The Voiceless” is aimed at exactly those people; the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, urging them to take a stand and it’s a theme revisited on “Public Enemy”.
Through the dozen tracks, Fire From the Gods aim to show what is wrong with the world on a societal level. The inequality. The complacent attitude to horrific events. They want to show that one person can make a difference. They want to empower. Between Channer’s harsh vocals and his raps, it underlines how these words should be received; with weight and conviction.
With the topics being covered, it’s only fitting that it’s backed by aggressive riffs as Channer spits out his vocals. With guitars on offer from Jameson Teat and Drew Walker, they’re chunky and pristine. Snarling with menace, the grit and vigour on display works well in tandem with Channer’s harsher vocals. Songs like the reggae-infused “Excuse Me” have a more staccato rhythm, the riffs being delivered like bursts of machine gun fire.
However, with the hip-hop elements, it brings a new atmospheric quality to the music to ensure it’s not just another generic metal record flavoured with hardcore elements. Songs like “Composition” and “Into the Blue” have an ethereal, almost calming quality to them. Sadly, at moments such as “End Transmission”, the drum work from Richard Wicander and Bonner Baker’s bass is lost to these elements.
While you may not be overly concerned by the lyrical content (though any decent human being should be), if you just want to listen to it as an album, you’ll find a great one here with Narrative Retold. Fire From the Gods have blended harsh, gritty metal with the melody of hip-hop to make something catchy.
The fact that the band are wanting to deliver a powerful message powered by great musicianship only enhances their standing. It may be an old trope but even if only one person is inspired to make the world a slightly better place, I’d call that a win for Fire From the Gods.
Narrative Retold is released on 19th May