The Music Cartel/Rise Above

Disappointing, truly disappointing. Imagine my excitement as Firebird’s eponymous debut landed in my lap, featuring the masterful but missing-in-action Bill Steer, a man who’s slung strings for not only one but two hugely influential metal bands, Napalm Death and Carcass. Now imagine my revulsion as my jaw dropped firmly and forlornly to the floor as the first strains of haphazard, hapless stoner-boogie wafted out of my speakers like stale ragweed. One more time: disappointing, truly disappointing. But Mr. Steer shouldn’t take all the heat; after all, Firebird also comprises Cathedral’s Leo Smee (a band who’s had a patchy, if not fascinating, career thus far) on bass and organ and Spiritual Beggars’ Ludwig Witt (a band who I’ve, er, passed the bong on) on drums. Then again, not only did Steer write the bulk of the music and lyrics on Firebird, he also yawns out all the vocals — I mean, not only did this guy shatter synapses on both Napalm Death’s From Enslavement to Obliteration and Carcass’s Heartwork, not to mention all the other pioneering platters from both bands, he also practically invented the “vomit vox” style on Carcass’s first two albums! Basically, it looks like Bill’s following former bandmate Lee Dorrian (ex- of Napalm Death, currently in Cathedral) into the void… just a decade later. Of all the Carcass alumni, at least Mike Amott’s still going strong with Arch Enemy. But Bill? Pass the spliff, mate.

The Music Cartel, P.O. Box 629, Port Washington, NY 11050,

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