Nebraskan hard rock quartet Through Fire started off their career with a strong debut released through giant genre label Sumerian Records (Asking Alexandria, Periphery, The Dillinger Escape Plan). Now they’re aiming to keep up the bold momentum with follow-up album All Animal, but have they strayed too far from the jackpot?
Like their previous release Breathe (2016), the Midwesterners intertwine electronic elements around slabs of heavy rock, although it is rather hit and miss this time around. Title track and album opener ‘All Animal’ continues this industrial feel but when the electronic undertones are introduced, it comes across as ill-fitting and over produced. This doesn’t, however, diminish the grand chorus that ultimately drives their signature sound. The same can be said for the melodic ‘Superhero’, which withholds an anthemic chorus armed with deep riffs and a nu-metal section that could fill stadiums, but the random percussion sampling does nothing for the atmosphere built.
It’s almost as if sampling was shoehorned in these examples to create cohesion with the tracks where the dominating electronic style actually materialised successfully. The synths in both ‘Medicine’ and ‘If You Love Me, Leave Me’ are reminiscent of Sempiternal/That’s The Spirit-era Bring Me The Horizon, conveying alt-pop ambience that complements their passionate contemporary rock sound. Likewise, their surprising cover of Roxette’s 1988 hit ‘Listen To Your Heart’ uses uplifting and atmospheric production that nods at the original. In this especially, Grant Kendrick’s mighty, high vocals help replicate the raw emotional essence of an 80s power ballad.
Although, the mood swiftly changes from empowering ballads to watered-down Nickelback and Metallica renditions in the form of stripped-back bluesy ‘Die Sober’, and slow yet heavy ‘My Son’. The lyrics here are noticeably more generic too as the latter poses uninspired advice such as “Never give up on your dreams ‘cos nothing’s out of reach” and “Always stand for what is right”. ‘Listen To Your Heart’ may have captured the nature of a ballad, but both of these reiterated why some consider the two aforementioned bands to be outdated.
While Through Fire are proving themselves across a wide range of genres, it could be showing them as Jacks of all trades but masters of none. From this point forward, they could pursue any of the styles explored in All Animal but they should at least develop an ear on when it is appropriate to mix them…