Born of Fire
Dead Winter Sun
Length: 43 minutes
Remember the early 90s? When Metal still ruled the world and American bands stood tall.
Well it’s 2014, and Metal no longer rules, at least not in the good ol’ U.S. of A. However, Phoenix’s BORN OF FIRE have shown that all is not forgotten. Their 2014 release ‘Dead Winter Sun’ is the closest thing I’ve heard in a while hearkening back to classic era QUEENSRYCHE. Solid Prog Metal with added Power kick and a Modern heft. American Metal stands tall, once again.
German label Pure Steel Records is helping resurrect classic Metal bands like BORN OF FIRE. Originally formed way back in 1995, three original members (Guitarists Victor Morell and Bobby Chavez with Drummer Steve Dorssom) unite with a new Bassist (Michael Wolff) and a kick-ass new Vocalist (Gordan Tittsworth).
From the opening creep of lead off title track “Dead Winter Sun” you hear classic American Prog/Power influences from QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING, NEVERMORE, and even some ICED EARTH. Tittsworth is a little less nose-bleed than Geoff Tate, but no less acrobatic. Mixing a little Axl Rose nasal into the Power Prog soars. With complex arrangements/rhythms and great weaving tapestries of metallic melodies.
Many of these songs refer back to the “cleaner” era of 80s/90s Metal. Guitars, Bass, Drums, and Vocals played hard and steely. Modern Metal is brutal and mean, but often lacks the clarity that so defined 80s Metal sound (à la WASP, QUEENSRYCHE, and SAVATAGE). So pure, unencumbered by overwhelming loudness. You can actually hear the crisp twin guitar licks, the defined bass pluck, the sharp clash of the cymbals, and the coherent lyrical sweep of the vocals.
Some great material played out: The reflective balladesque “Last Goodbye”, edgy Prog anthem “Cast the Last Stone”, a symphonic instrumental “Speed of Dark” opens into the storm-bringer assault of “Spiritual Warfare”, the cryptic haunted melody of album stand-out “Hollow Soul”, the operatic lift of the emotional Power(ed) “Echoes of the Lost”, and the acoustic fade-out “Tears”. Ten songs, 42 minutes, no filler.
The Guitars from Morell and Chavez guide us through labyrinthine corridors. With prominent Bass and precise double bass Drums propelling us on. All elevated by Tittsworth’s awesome pipes. The band lays down a solid foundation and he builds a towering skyscraper upon it.
There’s something about American Made Metal that’s just different. A substantive core, apart from all the classical/mythical themes and stylings that so defines European Metal. Something a little rawer, less polished, less restrained.
Not all of the album is at the same level, some standard material is mixed into the glory. At least, BORN OF FIRE resists the temptation of so many to include everything, and the kitchen sink. I’m glad the focus remains tight. These guys are producing much better stuff in 2014 than what the bands they emulate are doing now (I’m including both versions of QUEENSRYCHE).
Metal may have gotten its start in Europe (Great Britain, actually). But the grandness of Progressive Metal first soared right here in the United States. Those 80s pioneers showed off what mixing Prog Rock intricacy into Metal aggression could truly accomplish. BORN OF FIRE takes from that tradition and modernizes it. Their ‘Dead Winter Sun’ is hopefully a grand new beginning for this band. Highly Recommended.