[15th May 2013]
02. Turner and Hooch
03. Of Motion
04 A Life We Used To Know
I can’t help feeling just a little bit sorry for Red Seas Fire. As it stands, their main claim to fame is that their old guitarist now plays bass for Periphery - but it is to their credit that they have taken his departure in good grace, and promptly set about reinventing themselves as a quartet with a revamped sound.
In order to showcase this new material, Exposition is the first in a series of EPs that will ultimately combine – Power Ranger style – into a full length album. Each of these EPs is being made available on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. I have to say that I think this is a brilliant idea, and one that will hopefully allow the band to build some momentum as each EP drops, but doesn’t overload new listeners. Smart.
Visually heralding the new direction, the new band logo gracing the coverage is also particularly sleek and efficient. I fully expect to see diehard fans bearing tattoos of it should the band properly take off.
But the particularly good news is that the band’s supply of new ideas extends beyond the presentational. Brutally, I had pegged their self-titled 2011 release as ‘competent but unremarkable’, but I didn’t have to get very far into Exposition to find conclusive evidence that this description no longer applies.
“Fortress“, the first of four tracks on offer here, bolts a pummelling verse riff to an expansive and hooky chorus that shows immediately how much the band has progressed in the last couple of years. The improbably named “Turner and Hooch” provides further evidence that guitarist Pete Graves is developing quite an ear for riffs that are technically interesting, but retain a stronger sense of groove, and that vocalist Robin Adams is as convincing a singer as he is a screamer.
The band slow things down significantly for “Of Motion” with, if I’m honest, mixed results. Unfortunately, the song feels a little too ephemeral. It meanders around quietly for a couple of minutes before just fizzling out. Maybe this will make sense in the context of a full length album, but on a four track EP it does rather break the momentum between those opening two tracks and “A Life We Used To Know“, which brings the EP stomping to a close.
Production wise, this is clearly a DIY effort, but a fairly good example of what can be achieved nevertheless. The drums are a little muffled, and the bass gets a bit lost sometimes, but these are both forgivable and shouldn’t impact on listening enjoyment for all but the nerdiest of technology fetishists.
One general bugbear of mine that does rear its ugly head, though, is a slight over-infatuation with adding additional layers of electronica-style bells and whistles to the mix. The last chorus of “Fortress” is a particular casualty, with the sound muddied by these extra layers. The relationship between the chord progression and the vocal melody is more than enough to carry the song to its conclusion, so this is a bit of a shame.
All in all, if Red Seas Fire can maintain, or even improve on, this level of quality for the following EPs, by the time the series is complete they should be head and shoulders above the pack in the teeming throngs of unsigned prog-metal bands.
What’s more, if they keep this up, the fact they are ‘that guy from Periphery’s old band’ should become a footnote in their biography, rather than a chapter heading.
With pay what you like donations for Exposition being ploughed into the production of the next EP, I think this is well worth a fiver for anyone with an interest in supporting a band with a strong DIY work ethic and a promising future.
You can download Expostion and donate at www.redseasfire.co.uk