Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Safety Fire - Mouth Of Swords

The Safety Fire
Mouth Of Swords
Inside Out Music/Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

One of the rising stars in recent years from the U.K. progressive metal scene is London based outfit The Safety Fire. Having stirred up a lot of interest in the underground scene with the release of their debut E.P. ‘Sections’ in 2009, and earning high praise with their debut full-length effort ‘Grind The Ocean’ in 2012, the band has returned with their highly anticipated second full-length effort ‘Mouth Of Swords’. And once again, The Safety Fire have put together another unique release that will no doubt end up at the top of many critics top ten releases for 2013.
The Safety Fire (Who consist of vocalist Sean McWeeney, guitarist/producer Derya ‘Dez’ Nagle, guitarist Joaquin Ardiles, bassist Lori Peri and drummer Calvin Smith) begin their latest release with the title track ‘Mouth Of Swords’, which will immediately bewilder and fascinate most upon first listen. The band’s penchant for throwing out angular guitar sounds and complex time changes in the vein of The Mars Volta, Coheed And Cambria and Between The Buried And Me is still very much a large part of the band’s song writing on their new material. But what really stands out with this new track is how much more in synch McWeeney’s melodies fit in with the busy musical landscape delivered from the rest of the band. Whereas the vocals and the music sounded jarring more often than not on ‘Grind The Ocean’, on ‘Mouth Of Swords’, the two gel a lot more, without sacrificing the complexity of the music the band have made a name for themselves upon.
The follow-up track ‘Glass Crush’, which is the first single lifted from the album, is perhaps one of the fastest and intense songs on the album, and is perhaps one of the better examples of what McWeeney is capable of on the vocal front with his seamless shift between clean vocals and screams with considerable ease. Aside from the vocals, the continual shift between groove and intensely fast passages is well executed, while the use of gang vocals around the latter half of the track is simply infectious.
On ‘Yellowism’, The Safety Fire show restraint and tone down the complexities of their song writing to make way for a groove in the vein of Mastodon mixed with Gojira, while on ‘Beware The Leopard (Jagwar)’, the band take a step back further to make way for what is easily one of the album’s more accessible tracks, albeit outside of the heavy choruses where Between The Buried And Me vocalist Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. contributes his distinctive roars alongside McWeeney’s cleaner efforts.
‘Red Hatchet’ is perhaps the only track on the album that could have been lifted from ‘Grind The Ocean’, but does at least sound a little more cohesive and melodic than anything from the album itself, while ‘Wise Hands’ is almost the complete opposite, with the band showcasing their softer (Almost jazz-like) side, and McWeeney positively shining with the full of his full range on the vocal front.
The Gojira influences the band has taken on are unmistakable on the guitar riffs and drumming on the intense ‘The Ghosts That Wait For Spring’. But while the music is nothing short of totally crushing, there’s the ever present melodies provided by McWeeney to keep things from straying too far from alienation for the audience.
Not unlike ‘Wise Hands’, ‘I Am Time, The Destroyer’ begins in a soothing and dream-like manner before veering off in the complete opposite direction with the advent of searing riffs and monstrous grooves, only to return to where it started at the beginning, while the lengthy ‘Old Souls’ finishes off the album with a sound and direction that encompasses much of what the album has to offer as a whole condensed into the one track.
When I first came across ‘Grind The Ocean’, I really couldn’t get my head around what the band were trying to achieve. But despite my initial impressions, I stuck with the album, and slowly but surely it all started to make sense. So with that knowledge, I gave ‘Mouth Of Swords’ plenty of time to sink in before making up my mind on whether the band had actually improved in a short eighteen months between releases. I can conclude that while ‘Mouth Of Swords’ took its time growing on me, it’s pretty clear that The Safety Fire have once again produced another truly impressive album.

For more information on The Safety Fire, check out - http://www.thesafetyfire.com/

© Justin Donnelly