Spread the Fire

Spread the Fire Fueled by Fire - Spread the Fire (Metal Blade) 2007

1. "Intro: Ernest Goest to Hell" (2:12)
2. "Thrash Is Back" (5:13)
3. "Striking Death" (3:30)
4. "Spread the Fire!!!" (4:09)
5. "Betrayal" (5:22)
6. "Massive Execution" (2:56)
7. "Metal Forever" (3:22)
8. "Dreams of Terror" (4:07)
9. "Command of the Beast" (5:01)
10. "Chaotic Punishment" (4:56)
11. "Put to Death" (5:05)

Not long ago I picked up a CD by a young new band out of California called Merciless Death. They play thrash metal like it was 1986 all over again. With that release I discovered a whole new list of young thrash bands and Fueled by Fire is one of those bands, along with Meltdown, Hyades, Anger as Art, Blood Tsunami, Avenger of Blood, etc. It seems thrash has made a bit of a come back in the metal underground. Fueled by Fire are also from California and are one of those bands that wear their denim and leather proud. The cover art of the thrasher chocking the goth chick says a lot about the band's approach to their music and their lifestyles. They don't just play thrash metal, it's what they are all about. Ok, there is something to be said about originality. Fueled by Fire sound like a mix of "Kill 'Em All" and "Bonded by Blood", but so what? It's not about trying to be the next big, new thing. It's about playing the style of music you like, and Fueled by Fire like THRASH! The album is crammed full of tight riffs, fast licks, and a young, hungry, punk delivery. No compromise here at all. It's all about the attitude, the scene, and metal. There is even the occasional galloping classic metal riff, such as in the lead break of "Betrayal". The lyrics are pretty typical of what one would expect from a band of this style. With titles like "Thrash Is Back" and "Metal Forever", what can you expect? However, I am one who appreciates metal anthems. They are just plain fun! In a word, "Spread the Fire" RULES! Thrash is back. If you don't believe it, take a listen for yourself.

It's also worth mentioning that the album is mixed and mastered by Armored Saint's Joey Vera. Also, the insert has one of those cool collages that we use to see on albums from bands like Nuclear Assault and Anthrax, as well as lots of pictures of the band sporting their favorite metal t-shirts.

Plunging into Darkness Fueled by Fire - Plunging Into Darkness (Anniolation Records) 2010

1.      The Arrival [instrumental] (3:04)
2.      Rising From Beneath (4:07)
3.      Within The Abyss (5:08)
4.      Unidentified Remains (2:04)
5.      Plunging Into Darkness (4:11)
6.      Eye Of The Demon (3:58)
7.      Evoke [intro] (1:49)
8.      Evoke The Curse (4:24)
9.      Amongst The Dead (3:50)
10.     Sickness Of Humanity     (4:12)
11.     Mass Infestation (3:31)

The sophomore release from Fueled by Fire, coming nearly three years after their debut, is more of the same thrash metal lunacy. However, with this record Fueled by Fire have recorded a tighter and more polished thrash metal  sound. While they have stuck to their musical gun, they show growth and maturity in songwriting. The riffs are better, the soloing is better and the overall songs are just more memorable. Even the vocals have improved. Rick Rangel has somehow managed to make that menacing growl more controlled, without coming off as a death metal vocalist. He almost has a punk-like quality to his delivery. As well, he lets off some cranium-splitting, high-pitched screams. For the most part, the lyrics have moved away from the "kill all posers/thrash is back" to deeper and darker topics.

The album opens with a headbanging, thrash metal instrumental titled "The Arrival". The only vocals in the song are a cranium-rattling scream. Track two begins the thrash metal onslaught that doesn't let up for the entirety of the album. "Rising from Beneath" is a Slayer-riff-ic speed metal number, while "Within The Abyss" is a mid-paced but equally crushing song. "Unidentified Remains" brings back the speed and is a short burst of musical energy that is most certainly inspired by Slayer, right down to the Araya-like vocal delivery. The title track seems to take it's musical inspiration from the German thrash metal moguls, while "Eye of the Demon" returns to the Bay Area style. "Evoke" breaks up the album a bit. It is an acoustic-based instrumental intro for the song "Evoke the Curse",  another fast thrasher. From that point until the end of "Mass Infestation", the thrash metal polka never lets up. So while things have most definitely improved from the debut, the thrash-for-thrash-sake ethic is still firmly in place with Fueled by Fire. I liked the debut and I like "Plunging into Darkness" even more. I can't imagine any fan of the NWOTM not enjoying this album.

I might also mention that while the debut was released on Metal Blade Records, this debut is an indie release. I picked up my copy in a bundle from Century Media Records, along with a t-shirt, autographed poster and button for $20. Being an indie release, the packaging isn't quite the same quality as the debut. The cover art is not printed on an offset printing press, but rather is printed on some digital press. As such, the resolution of the printing isn't the best quality making the small text on the lyrics hard to read.

Trapped in Perdition Fueled by Fire - Trapped in Perdition (Noise Art) 2013

1. Catastrophe (4:33)
2. Suffering Entities (3:57)
3. Forsaken Deity (4:23)
4. Profane Path (4:30)
5. Defaced Mortality (4:39)
6. Rotten Creation (4:01)
7. Pharmaceutical Extermination (4:11)
8. Symbolic Slaying (3:17)
9. Obliteration (4:38)
10. Abeyant Future (Outro)  (2:20)
11. Depiction Of Demise [bonus track] (4:09)

As much as I can say I appreciated the first two albums from Fueled by Fire, especially after seeing them perform live, I never really thought they were more than followers. They were thrash for thrash sake, re-creating a sound that was built in the mid-80's by such legends as Exodus, Metallica, Dark Angel and Slayer. With "Trapped in Perdition", Fueled by Fire have created something that is no longer wallowing in the mire of mediocrity. Though they still are 100% thrashers, they have added some more complex and interesting riffing and even remind me of Death's "Spiritual Healing". From the opening lick to the last guitar chord, this album is packed with ruthless riffing and manic drumming. In fact, the performances all around are solid, including the gruff and manic vocals. However, it would have been nice if the bass guitar was slightly more prominent in the mix.

Lyrically, the band is as dark as ever. Following in the shoes of Exodus, they relentlessly attack people of faith and God. In "Forsaken Deity" they make the claim that "religion must die". In the very next song "Profane Path" they have the lines, "Satan fulfills the prophecy, God will scream in agony..." and also make the claim that "God is now dead!" So if anyone is easily offended by lyrics such as these, this album probably isn't for you.

Despite the dark, cliché "look how evil we are" lyrics, musically this is the best album yet from Fueled by Fire and finally puts them on the same level as Havok, Vindicator, and Bonded By Blood's "Exiled To Earth".

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