Having seen FIRELAND play alongside one of Irish Metal's bright hopes for the future CELTIC LEGACY not so long ago I managed to get a copy of their demo to see how it faired against their live performance. The style they play is as I said in the live review, a nice mix of straight up old school Heavy Metal in the vein of MAIDEN and PRIEST yet with a delicious modern tinge mostly caused by the beefy rhythm production and thrash, like ICED EARTH and METALLICA, leanings.
The quality of the riffs is good in general yet lack that essential memorability and catchiness that is needed to excel in this genre. Perhaps this is a fault caused by these thrashier leanings as the rhythm seems to be often all weight and not enough interest. Thankfully the leads don't suffer any such problems as the solo work is impressive, especially for a demo band and adds a very nice and professional flavour to the demo as a whole. In fact almost everything about this sounds very professional, from the very clear production and the obvious talent in the musicianship to the CD packaging and print quality.
Unfortunately without a stage to be a showman on the quality of the vocals themselves come to the fore and unfortunately they to me aren't overly impressive. Perhaps this is because his country of origin is a little obvious and their accent isn't the most pleasant. Added to this there seems to be a sharpness to the vocals at times that has a tendency to be a little annoying when he tries too hard.
Problems aside what really makes this a worthy demo is when the band showcase melodic sections. Opener "Computerised Gods" would have been one of the stronger cuts on the demo regardless, but with that simply beautiful post solo outro section it comes into a new light with simply beautiful melodic lead lines. This section is definitely the most impressive on the entire demo in terms of ability to create mood and melody. Pure class.
The following track "Enslavement Empire" is a good example to highlight the band's problems despite being a decent track. My first and definitely the bands most important, problem with this is the lack of tempo change. For any good Heavy Metal band there needs to be some more energy for the fan to really get head banging to. After all if we can't head bang what is the point of this particular breed of Metal? The lack of speed and change is what causes some of the bands other problems, particularly song length as with tracks being over 5 minutes long (3 out of the 4) this variation is needed to prevent a little plodding toward the end of the track.
I would say that this is a decent and impressive first demo despite its flaws. The strength contained in certain sections means that the band definitely have the talent for greater things as some of the melodies and lead work is simply excellent. The riffs themselves have a tendency to be great one minute and then samey the next. A simple case of weeding out the rubbish concentrating on the more quality sections would make this band great indeed. Definitely one to watch. (Online July 25, 2004)