Have you ever listened to an album, and it scared you so much
that it sat there on the schelf, ignored and alone? I had a
Swans disc once, i am not sure which one, i think maybe Children
Of God. Everyone said it was their best, so i tracked
it down. Something about the screaming, the noise, the sheer
neurosis of M. Gira's lyrics gave me a serious case of the willies.
I couldn't listen to it...
You see, to me music portrays an emotional mood. Some albums
are happy. Some are sad. Some are introspective. And some are
... paranoid. I place The Fire Show alongside
Children Of God in that last category.
Don't take this to mean that The Fire Show sound like The Swans.
Far from it. The Fire Show lacks the distortion and "arty-ness"
of The Swans. I would consider them to be a post-punk band.
I think that this album has more in common with The Dead Kennedy's
than with The Swans or their ilk.
The guitars on this album positively scream. High-pitched whining
that reminds me of Klaus Flouride circa Fresh Fruit For
Rotting Vegetables. However, while Klaus' guitar whined
in rage and anger, The Fire Show's guitars whine in fear. I
am reminded of the sound that Nazi buzz bombers during World
War II supposedly made: a high-pitched disorienting scream that
came from the propeller. Designed to inspire fear.
Combine those whining guitars with the distorted almost manic
voice of M. Resplendent, and you have a recipe for terror.
The first two tracks of this album build up a level of paranoia
through the voice and the guitars. I am filled with a vision
of my own impending death, skewered on a guitar. The voice screams
as if some madman is yelling his lungs off in another room of
the same building that you are in. Slowly making his way towards
It's kinda creepy. Do not listen to it alone, late at night.
However, after those first two tracks (which really set the
mood for the whole album and which have been the subject of
this review so far), The Fire Show give us Explosion: Cerbellum,
which releases all of the pent up agression and fear in a flurry
of heavy metal-esque power chords. Eventually, this song is
overwhelmed by feedback and disinitigrates into the sound of
a mixing board being overloaded.
With the next track, The Antipathetic, the fear creeps
back into the rhythm. The rest of the album fluctuates between
anger over the fear (Conception Blues) and melancholy
(the untitled drone of track 8).
The album offers no release, no catharsis, and that's why i
find it difficult to listen to. Oh sure, the music is masterfully
played (Resplendent and guitarist Olias Nil having cut their
teeth in the indie pop band Number One Cup), but the emotional
content of the album never reaches the release that i hope for.
I really admire this album: it is wonderfully played and portrays
a mood very very well. I just, well, i don't need any more paranoia
added to my life, so i can't listen to it all the way through
too often. Only on sunny days surrounded by friends. However,
i do highly respect the musicianship that went into this. The
Fire Show demostrate that they are immensely talented. And as
such, i look forward to seeing them live
again (i did not get this sense of paranoia live -- in fact,
live, the release was there!), and hearing more from the band.
However, i hope that next time if they build up this level
of frenzy, they allow a release from it!