Cars on Fire – Black Hearts and Bloody Hands

Review by Jack Arkell

It’s a mystery as to why Cars on Fire failed to take off on the back of the release of 2009 mini-album Dig Your Own Grave. Boasting a genuine sound and a ravenous quality to the seven tracks, the past few years have seemed like a missed opportunity to capitalise on an excellent early release.

So with Black Hearts and Bloody Hands, the Bristolians have a second chance to find the support that their music deserves.

The difficulty here though is that the tracks are bound to polarise potential listeners. Both in terms of raw aggression and the shifting time-signatures, choice track ‘Sex Death Sex Death’ earns flattering comparisons to cult hardcore bands like Every Time I Die and Dillinger Escape Plan.

It’s a shame there isn’t more of that though, as the more melodic tones of ‘Quarterdeck Confession’ and ‘A Cataclysm Unkinder’ tend to slow the album down. ‘Anchor Your Heart to the Sea’ is a prime example of when the band is caught in between the two extremes.

The problem is that the end result is neither punishing hardcore nor more commercially friendly rock, falling somewhere in the middle of the Venn diagram. It would be a shame for such a talented band to slip through the gap between the two fan bases.

Repeated listens will help to differentiate the tracks, but more variety would have been welcome. The formula wears thin, with heavy verses giving way to melodic choruses all too often. That’s not a criticism of the band’s sound, but rather a lamentation of the fact that a touch of experimentation is absent from proceedings.

Of the ten songs included on the record, you’d be hard pressed to pick a particularly bad one; it’s just that everything feels a bit safe. The overall sound hasn’t changed dramatically since Dig Your Own Grave, and subsequently, the band’s fortunes may not undergo a drastic overhaul either.

6 out of 10

Cars on Fire


  1. Borders
  2. Sex Death Sex Death
  3. Of Grace and Bone
  4. The Singapore Grip
  5. Quarterdeck Confession
  6. Rhythm and Command
  7. Anchor Your Heart to the Sea
  8. Marchioness of the Night
  9. A Cataclysm Unkinder
  10. Fractions of the Truth