Fueled By Fire
Spread the Fire
Metal Blade Records
Fueled By Fire calls to mind the whole “electing a president based on who you want to have a beer with” schtick that we seemed so stuck on. As in, listening to Spread the Fire, it’s pretty clear that it would be fun as shit to see Fueled By Fire live, you’d be headbanging all over the fucker, throwing devil signs left and right and hitting the person next to you every so often, going, “Oh, my fucking god, that riff is so Destruction!” But is this an album you’d buy and play over and over again, or is this an album you’d play once and instead be inspired to start spinning your old Testament and Death Angel records over and over again? The same goes for a lot of their brethren and occasional tour mates who were lumped into the “thrash revival” subscene, like Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. Spread the Fire is a fun album, but it’s almost too much of a museum piece. It doesn’t push the “fuck you, killlllllllllll” envelope like a lot of the cult black metal does, and it almost sounds too quaint, restrained, and not nearly as vibrant as new albums by Sodom and Destruction that I’ve been grooving to. Not to mention a little too referential and overly symbol-laden — even the uniforms are perfect (though god, you could say the same thing about black metal) — check out the booklet, check out the outfits, I could slip a Nuclear Assault CD in that booklet and no one would be the wiser.
HOWEVER, Spread the Fire on its individual merits finds a group that’s clearly done serious research into the thrash metal canon, and thus only borrows from the best. So Spread the Fire is heavily in thrall to the leading lights of thrash metal’s first wave, especially the Bay area scene of the mid ’80s. You’ll hear plenty of nods and homages to Testament’s first two albums, early Exodus, Dark Angel, Megadeth’s first album, some of the more classic NWOBHM like Priest and Maiden, and a bit of Slayer; although, Fueled By Fire do a lot less occultin’ and more of the sodden technical speed overload that characterized the aforementioned bands. The vocals are clean, but forceful (like Chuck Billy and David Wayne), with occasional Dark Angel-ish screams, the guitars are just metal thrashing mad familiarity, the solos seem perfect for being played by two guitar players swaying in tandem, bass is solid (who am I kidding, you can never hear the bass in thrash), and the drums are pretty excellent, inventive, tight and keep things moving without resorting to tired tricks like blast beats. Instead the double bass is the meat and potatoes here.
It’s somehow fitting that Metal Blade, the label that birthed thrash with its early Metal Massacre comps, would put this out. Unashamedly retro. Unashamedly metal?
Metal Blade Records: www.metalblade.com