How someone like Bill Steer managed to end up (nay, form) an outfit like FIREBIRD – the polar opposite of CARCASS in every way imaginable – is quite beyond me. A far cry from the ruckus of the Grindcore legends, the music FIREBIRD peddles is more akin to the stuff your CREEDENCE/CREAM-besotted uncle listens to. The one that sleeps in his bandana and refers to everyone as ‘man’. They play Rock, really old school Bluesy Rock to be more precise. Not the kind of thing you’d expect from a CARCASS alumnus. But hey, former NAPALM DEATH trooper Lee Dorrian formed CATHEDAL and that turned out just fine, so I’ll give these guys a shot.
OK, so meat and potatoes Rock is the name of the game here, and they are quite proficient at it. They have actually been around since 1999 and this is their fourth full-length, but it’s my first encounter with them so forgive my surprise over their Rock cred. Anyhoo, one thing that immediately impressed me was the fact that these guys actually play real Rock and not the kind of clumsy Stoner shite that poses as Rawk these days. They have that vintage sound to them, aided in no small way by the warm, organic production job, and the mellow parts (of which there are many) are very deftly pulled off. Steer’s free-flowing and slightly drunken crooning may be a relatively weak point but the actual riffs and the tasteful drum work more than make up for it. “Blue Flame” is a good opener that perfectly encapsulates what these guys are doing even though it doesn’t exactly race out of the gates, and the rollicking jam session that closes it out is just sweet. Most of the songs tread this mid-paced, heavily riff-laden jam route, and even though nothing is extremely technical in nature it oozes that fun factor, and the loose yet somehow compact style of song writing really helps add some oomph to the songs. So does the frequent cowbell and organ ditties - just check out the ballad-ish songs like “Lonely Road” and “Release Me”. Nice stuff! There are also three cover versions of classic Blues tunes by the likes of Duster Bennett and James Taylor, but I can’t comment on them since I’m not that familiar with the originals.
All in all a very solid album that simply gets the basics right. The CLUTCH side-project THE BAKERTON GROUP kicked my ass earlier in the year with their cracking “El Rojo” jamfest of an album, and it’s more of the same with these guys. Granted, FIREBIRD is less Jazzy and way more scuzzed-out in vibe, but the riffs are rocking HARD! Play this to your CREEDENCE, CREAM and ZZ TOP loving friends and make them fans!
(Online June 27, 2009)