With an opening track called ‘The Boys From Down Under’, it’s pretty obvious where this energetic Power Metal band hail from! Yep, Belgium. Not known for it’s Power Metal pedigree (and a fair old distance from Australia), Fireforce are certainly one of their country’s leaders in the genre. Belgium may not have set the world alight mainstream Metal-wise, but they had Ostrogoth and Killer back in the 80’s, Ancient Rites have crossed over at times in their impressive career and more recently Iron Mask and Magic Kingdom have contributed. There’s been two excellent Epysode projects too. I remembered a band called Double Dealer too but it appears they became Fireforce so that answers the question of what happened to them…
This is the band’s third album and continues the professional high-octane galloping Power Metal that they’ve become known for. For anyone new to the band they aren’t a cross between Firewind and Dragonforce as the name might suggest, they peddle a more Hammerfall, Gamma Ray, Sabaton, Iron Savior path, varying from the galloping quicker tracks like the aforementioned ‘The Boys From Down Under’, ‘Thyra’s Wall’ and ‘Iron, Steel, Concrete, Granite’ (the latter is clearly both Heavy Metal AND Hard Rock…) through to mid tempo attention grabbers, all delivered with aggression and of course power, topped off with a mid-range slightly gravelled classic Metal voice (must be that concrete and granite again…).
It’s no nonsense stuff, borne on a diet of classic 80’s Metal, but given an extra kick by the energetic, fluid rhythm section. There’s some 80’s American Speed Metal here and there, but the main influence appears to be the European acts of the same decade, so admirably re-ignited in the late 90’s and has continued to keep a high Metal profile ever since. If any of the above bands are looking for an act to join them on a Belgian leg of a tour then I’m sure Fireforce are the go-to band. As well as turning the speed on when required, there’s plenty of fist-punching anthems and head-banging enticements for an excited crowd to get into.
Some impressive lead-guitar is always a good addition and Fireforce don’t hesitate to throw in an excellent lead break whenever possible, bridging any potential musical gaps and giving many songs a relentless feel that has them sprinting along. With not even the merest hint of a ballad, there’s also generally a cover version on a Fireforce album – though I was a little nervous of them doing yet another version of Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’. However, even though it doesn’t quite build like the original it has been given a full-on Metal treatment that makes it fit with the rest of the album. Not sure it’s an essential addition, but it’s good fun and should be a crowd-pleaser in that aforementioned live environment. On the whole I reckon Fireforce have cemented their place at the top of Belgium’s Power Metal tree and should continue to make plenty of in-roads into other territories with this release…and if they tour Australia then they WILL be the the boys from down under…or is that up over…?
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)