Fireland - God 'N' Evil - (9/10)
Published on July 24, 2015
Genre:Power / Heavy Metal
It’s a bit of a tiresome sentiment, but there is definitely something to be said for the contrast between present day power metal and where it was 15 years ago, hence the frequent appeals of nostalgia that crop up whenever something dials back the clock considerably. Fireland is actually one of those bands that invokes that particular degree of nostalgia that borders on euphoria, though unlike many of the NWOBHM revivalist acts that were cropping up circa 2010, this Chilean outfit has its eyes fixed on a history a bit more recent than 1983. This particular time generally spanned from 1997 through 2000 where the songs were generally as fast as the mid to late 80s speed metal acts of Germany that were taking their cues from Judas Priest’s “Freewheel Burning” and Accept’s “Fast As A Shark”, but also taking some heavy melodic and atmospheric cues from Manowar, while not afraid to dabble in post-80s digital production advancements.
This same spirit as was so masterfully embodied in Hammerfall’s Legacy Of Kings and Steel Attack’s Where Mankind Fails is alive and well, and breathes new life through the celebration of speed and fury that is God ‘N’ Evil. This is the sort of album where a lot of the more ancillary elements of 80s epic metal such as keyboards and layered vocals are used extremely sparingly, giving way for more of the meat and potatoes that makes for a truly powerful sonic assault. The vast majority of this album cruises at full speed, varying a bit in terms of intensity with the riveting quasi-thrashing “Where Is Heaven” at the fringe, whereas a more restrained sense of speed that is still quite mobile emerges in the catchy fanfare of “It’s Not Magic”. There’s a lot of degrees of speed in between, all of it loaded with massive choruses and pounding guitars that occasionally remind of 1990s Nocturnal Rites, namely the hook-steeped affair of The Sacred Talisman, but is largely set exclusively on a Hammerfall path.
The effective emulation of Hammerfall doesn’t end with their speedy numbers, which admittedly occupy about 80% of this album’s total duration. The obligatory ballad that said Swedes normally have, and sometimes occasionally more than one, finds a perfect spiritual descendant in “Believe”, complete with a heartfelt crooning vocal performance and the dense atmospheric acoustic guitar sounds that conjure up images of distant horizons and lofty landscapes. It’s interesting to note that Rafael Castillo’s voice is one of the few areas where Hammerfall isn’t being the sole influence, as his somewhat more gritty vocalizations function as a perfect 50/50 combination of Joacim Cans and Kai Hansen. On a related note, this album’s lone mid-tempo, grooving number that listens a bit more like a heavy, Metallica number with a slight hint of Zakk Wylde along for the ride, and although “Dream” generally follows the faster character of the bulk of this album, the dense vocal and guitar harmonies gives it a heavy dose of Queen to go with one’s Helloween.
This is one of those back to basics affairs that manages to carry the day by reasserting something that has become scarce, so apart from an occasional studio gimmick in the vocals (there’s a few brief auto-tune passages on a couple of these songs), it tends to be pretty predictable. It’s music for people who want something familiar and something that doesn’t compromise, and this is about as close of a pure emulation of the heavier side of heavy metal tinged power metal just prior to the turn of the millennium as one can get following the rise of the Masterplan school of AOR and progressive tinged power metal. It calls its troops to arms the same way many of the great German and Swedish bands of the late 1990s did, toting a leather jacket and wielding a mighty broad sword. For the sake of the inner Viking and biker enthusiast in us all, God ‘N’ Evildesires a larger audience.