Narrative; a spoken or written account of connected events, ie a story. From Bob Dylan or Tupac Shakur to Freddie Mercury or Bob Marley, music has been an outlet for artists to release their stories since its origin. Whether it’s a tale of love and heartbreak to finding a way to get one’s own message across, musicians have been weaving stories that people all over the world can find relatable, proving time and time again that there is more to music than just the sounds we hear. This is where Austin, TX based metal outfit Fire From The Gods enter the fray with their label debut album, Narrative, a series of stories based on their own personal struggles and diversity. While it can be a risky endeavor to create a record utilizing such varied ideologies, it shows the true beauty of music which is that of letting artists use their artistic outlet to speak on issues they deem important. Having said that, does Narrative live up to its’ name in definition and message?
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Genre: Metalcore | Alternative Metal
Label: Rise Records
Release: August 26, 2016
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play | Physical
Basing the expectations of sound on the band’s previously released two singles, there’s most likely an assumption that the sound will live more in the realm of metalcore and rap metal. While the foundation of Fire From The Gods draws from there in song structure and vocal approach, there’s many other influences to be found through the record, most notably alternative metal. The album’s second track, “End Transmission” is a perfect example as it starts 20 second instrumental showcase featuring a huge sound prior to becoming more melodic and simplistic. Vocalist AJ Channer utilizes a soft-sung vocal approach to the verses while letting his voice soar during the chorus, sounding eerily similar to Sevendust vocalist Lajon Witherspoon. The fourth track, “Composition” nearly matches “Excuse Me” until the bridge hits which throws listeners a curveball as a piano kicks in leading into a smooth, vibe-y backing musical piece that AJ raps over before ramping up back into the full song. “Evolve” continues the orchestral elements in sound while vocally there’s a more monotone style used, coming across as something that Motionless In White would output. By utilizing different approaches and influences in many of the songs, the record contains a large dose of varied sounds helping it’s longevity.
As previously mentioned, from the lyrical front there is a concept that’s meant to drive the record, but as a whole, each song brings to light a different emotional and thematic approach from members of the band. Thus, don’t expect some extremely over complicated interwoven theme to carry amongst the tracks turning this into a full on conceptual record. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a message to be heard, but it’s more about the here and now with the current societal ongoing issues that are relatable enough for everyday people to understand. Fire From The Gods wanted to utilize their own backgrounds and experiences from racial discrimination to police brutality and then on the other side to letting the man know they’re listening, but not allowing themselves to be walked all over. Parts of the record do inevitably come across as politically-charged but it is more so about deviating away from a traditional approach and using art as an outlet, which is where Narrative succeeds admirably.
In order to live up to the name by definition Narrative simply had to tell the story that the band wanted to tell. But in a world where millions of artists exist and can be heard at the click of a button, there’s more of a desire to take a different approach to music, sonically or lyrically, to help each individual artist stand out. That is what Fire From The Gods have done with their debut record; escaped the confines of stereotypical metalcore and created a record that takes their own sound to the next level by utilizing their own inherent uniqueness. From its personal perspective and most likely divisive thematic and political approach in concept to the variety found in different elements and influences littered throughout their sound, the musicality and composition of the Narrative isn’t one that fits perfectly into a neat little package, which suits the bands goals perfectly.