Odyssey Music (Release Date 18.09.20)
With the release of their first album back in 2006, Brother Firetribe (alongside the Poodles and WigWam) kick started the Scandinavian-led revival of melodic rock that is thriving to this day. Since then the only criticism has been they have not released their quality product often enough.
2020 sees a change on a number of fronts with guitarist Emppu Vuorinen leaving to focus full-time on Nightwish and perhaps taking a chunk of their fan base with them. For the first time the album artwork dispenses with their iconic logo, and there has also been a further shift in musical direction. Previous two albums ‘Diamond In The Firepit’ and ‘Sunbound’, while supremely melodic, did not have the intensity of their earlier work and ‘Feel The Burn’ takes the process a stage further, moving away from AOR towards a lighter, poppier sound.
‘I Salute You’ is in their traditional mould with trademark prominent keyboards, an anthemic chorus and a fine solo from new guitarist Roope Riihijärvii, albeit a bit lighter with less going on, but though ‘Arianne’ retains a symphonic feel, Pekka Ansiu Heino’s vocals are huskier, almost like Chris Norman of Smokie.
However the succeeding songs take an even more experimental step forward with ‘Night Drive’ having a synth pop feel and few guitars, and ‘Bring On The Rain’ is very dancey. Most controversial is ‘Chariot Of Fire’ whose Euro pop beat and ultra cheesy lyrics (‘street of dreams’) calls to mind the more recent direction of fellow Finns Reckless Love.
With these, and the atmospheric ‘LoveIs A Lie’, they have taken a chance similar to fellow Scandi standard bearers HEAT on their even more experimental ‘Into The Great Unknown’ – and the way the latter went back to basics after alienating long-time fans is not a good omen.
On the other hand the lushly arranged ‘Ticking Away’ and ‘Battle Ground’ with a stirring chorus that owes much to Magnum in its delivery are more old school. ‘Candle In The Window’ combines a strong chorus with overly poppy synths though closer ‘Rock In The City’ is perhaps closest to old-school Firetribe, anthemic with stabbing keys.
A very strong set of well constructed songs, but the more pop direction- not unique to them among contemporary melodic rock acts, it has to be said – somewhat undermines my enjoyment and makes this probably my least enjoyable of their five albums to date. ***3/4
Review by Andy Nathan
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