Head Turning, Vote Winning…
Reviewed by Brian McGowan and released by Spinefarm Records on 24 March 2017
Introducing your new album with a short instrumental opener seems so last year. So Japanese. The naggingly familiar piano motif on the opening and title track, ‘Sunbound’, seems frustratingly truncated, leaving you wanting more. It’s an unashamed nod to melodic rock convention. None of this “embracing change” nonsense for Brother Firetribe. They cling to the cliches of AOR with the grip of a drowning man, squeezing out carefully crafted melodies, making them sound fresh and new, full of measured riffs and sturdy hooks, sprinkled with rich, ebullient harmonies that come in short, focused bursts.
The crowd pleasers arrive early. The stadium stomping ‘Help Is On The Way’ and the declamatory ‘Indelible Heroes’ are the head turners, purpose built to win the popular vote, reassuringly familiar yet never less than distinctive. It takes enormous skill and invention to do that while avoiding the banality evident in so much of today’s Melodic Rock music.
Among the next 9 tracks there are a handful of treasures that you’ll constantly welcome back like old friends… the galloping ‘Give Me Tonight’ is an AOR thoroughbred, pacy and urgent; ‘Restless Heart’ blurs the line between timeless melodic rock and revivalism, and ‘Taste Of A Champion’ is as cinematic and Rockytastic as you can get without actually being Survivor.
Producer, Mikko (Stratovarius/ Nightwish) Karmila has the obsessive’s eye for fine textural detail. He makes sure the moods and images don’t shift too far from the band’s lush, widescreen style of AOR, mainlining us into the world of romantic imagery with the immense, ‘Heart Of The Matter’, and the escalating operatic rush of magnificent closer, ‘Phantasmagoria’.
9 out of 10
- Help Is On The Way
- Indelible Heroes
- Taste Of A Champion
- Last Forever
- Give Me Tonight
- Heart Of The Matter
- Restless Heart
- Big City Dream