When you think of Malta, what comes to mind? The yellow buses of Valletta, the famous Church of St. Mary at Mosta? Well, now you can add the name of Maltese band Fire to that list, as their second album 'Thrill Me' is surely going to put them firmly on the map as a band to watch out for.
There's definitely a wink and a nod to the late 80's - early 90's here, linking them to such groups as Giant, No Sweat and Y&T to name a few, where you'll see on 'Thrill Me', that has to be one of the best opening tracks you'll hear this year. The bass beat alone makes the song, whilst the sudden bursts of powerful guitar could blow a hold in your speakers. No wonder it's a favourite on the live circuit.
If that wasn't enough, 'Get It On' ups the ante as it rocks yer socks off with it's raw sounding guitars from the word go, the heavy feel literally making you think "Jeez, these are from Malta??".
'That Kind Of Woman' has touches of keyboards for a slight mellower change in places, sounding not too unlike Gotthard to name a comparison, as it still rocks like a bugger as well. Not to be outdone, the gloves are off on 'Come with Me', a 100 m.p.h. corker that just keeps going and going in its old school way, it's mind-blowing solos flashing in and out at will. Surely the band will have been worn out by the end of the song, as I was and I was just listening to it.
Fortunately 'Always There' is more of a mid-tempo affair in the AOR vein with the keyboards brought more up front, making the huge wall of sound as good as it can get, and wouldn't be out of place on Giant's classic album 'Last Of The Runaways'. One for the fists in the air fans out there.
'Hollywood' slows things down enough for you to get your head back together after such an onslaught of the previous songs, although the guitars still keep biting away to keep things rocked up and interesting, whilst the chorus is bound to have you shouting "C'mon, C'mon" in unison with vocalist Kenneth Calleja.
The band get themselves back to the heavier side with 'Crazy Lovin', the drums getting a good old hammering by Mark Abela, who adds, dare I say, some experimental "emo" touches for good measure at the start and midway through. Seems Lost Prophets aren't the only ones to master that then!
It's time to chill out with the blues rock ballad 'No More Pain', it's airy keyboards softening things when needed, and as someone else mentioned Danny Bowes would be well at home singing this track as it has hints of Thunder running through it. (Oh, the memories!).
A very gritty 'Where Are We Goin' pulls any listener right back into the hard edged theme again with its Whitesnake aura hanging over the song like a veil, yet not an exact replica of anything said band have done lately, more in the past maybe? Again those drums and guitars giving everything they've got, possibly up to 11 as it goes.
You get more of the same with 'Lost Without You' where the guitars via Joe Vella and Robert Longo eat their way through yet another non-stop pile-driver that would tier most bands out if they tried it. Quite exhilarating is a term that could easily be used and quite rightly so.
These keyboards are used to their full atmospheric best on the closing track 'Back Home', it's easy listening, melodic groove, providing another foot tapping winner. There's still short bursts of slick, rocked up guitar and bass via Charles Cassar, but they don't spoil the song and its cool vibe that is has, thus ending the album on a high. It's great to see such a good rock band emerging from what is normally thought of as a tranquil, easy-going Mediterranean island, and I hope the biker gang at St. George's Bay appreciate how lucky they are to have Fire on their "home turf" as I'm sure the band will set the rock scene alight with 'Thrill Me'. Check it out and also enjoy the album cover as a bonus!!
1. Thrill Me
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