[7th April 2014]
02. The Gold Room
03. The Grand Escape
Schedules have a habit of slipping. In early 2013, Bristolian tech-metallers Red Seas Fire announced they would be releasing a series of three four-track EPs that would then combine, Power Ranger style, into their debut full-length album. Releasing the first installment Exposition in May 2013, it’s probable that they didn’t anticipate a gap of eleven months between it and the second EP, Confrontation.
Of course, these things happen. Best laid plans, and all that – especially for a band at this level. Operating without label support and having to balance the desire to progress with the need to pay bills and put food on the table, delays are almost inevitable. The departure of bassist Leo Dorsz, a slot which remains vacant, may also have been a compounding factor.
But what is immediately clear, right from the first listen to Confrontation, is that Red Seas Fire haven’t just been sitting on their hands in the interim. This EP represents a step forward on pretty much every front from Exposition. Perhaps in keeping with the EP’s title, Confrontation is a more in-your-face affair, and seems to carry itself with more of a self-assured swagger.
One very noticeable change is in the approach taken by frontman Robin Adams to his harsh vocals. Attacking them in a higher register than heard on Exposition, they sound more natural and compliment the clean sections better. There is also more imaginative use of background electronica evident, and it is integrated more completely into the overall sound. Together with higher overall production values, Confrontation feels much more cohesive.
But the real revelations are to be found in the guitars. These tracks contain some of the most memorable riffs that Pete Graves has wrought from his particularly tasty collection of guitars. Riff Seas Fire? And how.
Pretty much every track includes at least one satisfyingly lip-curling passage, and there seems to be a hint of stoner influence creeping into the sound, helping the band to stand out still further from their peers. Particular highlights include the crushing groove that appears halfway through opening track “Tyrants” and the positively towering opening riff of lead single “The Gold Room“. Thrilling stuff.
There are just one or two points where the standard falters a little. Primarily, the bridge section of “The Gold Room” tries to be just a little too clever for its own good, but the blow is lessened by the fact the sections either side of it are so satisfying, but the passage does unfortunately bump it down to being a good song from being a great one.
With the godfathers of modern British tech-metal – Monuments and TesseracT – firmly establishing themselves on the global stage, it is encouraging to see the next generation really finding their feet and raising their game. Along with bands like Exist Immortal, Confrontation places Red Seas Fire in the vanguard of the new wave.
The band could easily have rushed the release of Confrontation, railroading themselves into meeting their self-imposed schedules, but doing so may well have sold these songs short. By taking their time, they have put together an EP of which they can be justly proud.
They still have a little growing to do, but Confrontation showcases a band right on the cusp of achieving their full potential. If they maintain the discipline and attention to detail that has helped their progression to this point, there’s every chance they could get there on EP number three. Watch this space.