Fire - Ignite (2010/Avenue of Allies)
Now here's something you don't see everyday: a hard rock band from the south-european island of Malta! What happened? For me Malta is a place where people go on vacation (and, of course, home of one of Europe's worst national football teams); not a breeding ground for hard rock bands! You learn something every day. Anyway, besides having one of the cheesiest band names of all time, what else is there to know about these guys?
Apparently they've been around since the late 90's, starting out as a cover band of classic rock songs. 2006 saw the release of "Ignite", their debut album, whilst follow-up "Thrill Me" was released only last year. But our focus is now on "Ignite", since Avenue of Allies have decided to release it as an expanded CD re-issue, including two bonus tracks.
I'm gonna cut right to the chase here: this is an average hard rock record. FIRE offers nothing new, and there is nothing on here that hasn't been done or heard before. In fact, they mostly come across as second-rate copies of countless other hard rock bands - I'm talking about the likes of GOTTHARD, KROKUS and SCORPIONS; in other words, straight-forward hard rock, with touches of melodic metal here and there. Another problem is the vocals. Kenny Calleja is not a bad singer, but he's got quite an accent, not the worst ever but definitely notable. Now this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but when you don't have strong enough songs to back it up, the problem becomes more evident.
Not that "Ignite" is a complete waste of time. There are a few songs that rises above the general mediocrity, like opener "Get Out Of My Way", which comes across as a poor man's XYZ, and "Home And Dry", whose chorus is a real winner and a definitive album highlight. They also do a decent cover of the Bryan Adams classic "Run To You" but in the end, the record's lack of identity and perhaps most importantly, strong choruses, prevents from any long-lasting impression.
I said average record, and I believe average is the right word to describe this album. It's not good, not bad, just somewhere in beetween. So, while this band most likely won't set the world on fire, they are at least worth a listen.
Bob Wheeler - s/t
Fury - s/t