Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Album Review: Through Fire - Breathe (Deluxe Reissue)

A fact of being a music fan is that you simply cannot hear everything that gets released. It's impossible. I don't tally the amount of records that I have access to, but if I tried to listen to every single one of them, I wouldn't have time in the day for anything else. We have to manage our time, pick and choose, or else we get consumed in the avalanche. As much as deluxe reissues of albums can seem like a way of bilking fans for more and more money, they can also give a moment of attention back to an album that has slipped through the cracks. Through Fire's album from last year is one of those I think I heard mentioned in passing once, but it isn't something I ever listened to. This reissue of the album has brought it to my attention.

Through Fire plays that style of modern rock that straddles the line between rock and metal, where the guitars are too saturated to be purely rock, but the songs aren't aggressive enough to be metal. It's a sound that is probably intended to appeal to fans on both sides of the fence, but I don't think it works quite that way. I imagine that rock fans won't enjoy the heavier moments nearly as much, and the metal fans are still going to think this is too mainstream. But I could be wrong.

The album gets off to a good start with "Breakout" and "Stronger", which have heavy riffs and choruses that throw in hefty doses of melody. In fact, though I doubt anyone will want me to make this comparison, the vocal tone makes the songs come across like a far heavier version of Chris Daughtry's first post American Idol album. Take that for what you will.

The strong start fades as the middle of the album hits. The title track is a bit slow, but ultimately redeems itself, but "Take It All Away" can't manage that trick. It's a song that strips all the melody out of the band's sound, and pounds away at a rhythm and a shout that isn't appealing at all. It's a jarring shift from the songs that came before, and would sound like a completely different band if "Dead Inside" didn't follow it and follow suit.

The album rights itself by the end, which leaves a better taste in my mouth. This edition of the album includes two extended versions of tracks, which add a few seconds to each without doing much to change the experience. There's also an acoustic version of the title track, which I think better captures the emotion the band was going for.

The most interesting moment, though, is the inclusion of a cover of Christina Perri's "Jar Of Hearts". The proper album included an Ellie Goulding cover, and adding in this cover, I think it shows where the band needs to head in the future. When they take their pseudo-grunge aesthetic, and mix it with pop melodies, the results are interesting. When they fall back into angry radio rock, they're lifeless and boring.

"Breathe" is a decent little album, and this version is worth checking out for the "Jar Of Hearts" cover. These sorts of rock versions of pop songs are a guilty pleasure, and this is a good one.

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