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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Day of Fire
Label: Essential Records
Time: 11 Tracks / 35:46 min
Exactly 26 seconds into Track one, after an acoustic piano introduction; the listener is slammed with the oh-so-typical drop D power chord wall-o-sound with ample measures of chugga chugga to go along with it. This is our introduction to Essential Records new artist, Day of Fire. But there is something differences here; small though they seem at times,they do help Day of Fire to stand out somewhat in the Heavy Rock genre aimed at Christian market.
First to stand out is the lead singer's (Joshua Brown) miraculous conversion story. You see, Joshua came out of the secular scene, being the former lead singer for a major label band named: get this, “Full Devil Jacket”(Island/Def Jam). In addition to printing all of the lyrics to their songs in their CD insert, Day of Fire have also included the text to Joshua's testimony. It is clear from the space taken up by his story, and the lyrics of Joshua's songs, that he clearly wanted this CD to be a tool to bring the lost to Christ.
Next to help Day of Fire to standout in this crowded market is Brown's all-out rock voice. He's got the tough/rough edged tone that is a necessity to make the sound complete yet on a few tracks this voice carries him through on some of the gentler tracks.
Now, for a track by track analysis:
Track 1 might lead you to think that this CD is going to bore you with the chunka chunka you can hear on any heavy rock station in your city. But the lyrics cause this song to stand out. Here is a small sampler:
Walk in the darkest rain.These lyrics recall what it must have been like for Peter to take the step towards Christ that night. What would we have done? Would we have acted any different than Peter?
In Track 2 the lyrics leave one wanting to know what “If you want it, if you want it, if you want it then let go.” is all about. What should we let go, and what are we supposedly wanting? This song seems like a filler. Limited musical variety chord tally is at most five chords. Definitely head -banger music. Obligatory acoustic guitar interval in the middle of the song, but something is missing here what is it?
Track 3, "Cornerstone," is a standout track due to the slowdown in the tempo and the chance for Joshua's to sweeten up some. The sound of his voice in this track could put him in Creed and the like. This tone here is what could take Day of Fire farther than most. Excellent lyrics as well “Lord of all show You're strong. On our knees we fall. Be a cornerstone, be a cornerstone. Be the rock higher than I, be my fortress wall. Be a foundation for all, my cornerstone.” is the chorus. Something is still missing musically.
Track 4, '"Time," puts us back in sort of '80's headbanger music. But that music had more to it, what was it? Still trying to figure it out. Sounds like filler material.
Track 5, "Fade Away," seems like an excuse to use a bunch of words that rhyme; Hey, day, pain, yesterday, shame, away, etc. Not much to keep one's finger off the track advance button here. At least the tempo has slowed a bit from track 2 and 4.
'I Am The Door' is the title for track 6. Seems like we've heard this song before. Oh yeah, it's track 2 and 4. Headbanging again, but headbanging was more fun than this. What is missing?
Suddenly it becomes obvious. There are no heavy guitar solos on this record. There are short little two and three note turns to connect phrases together, but no pyrotechnic fretboard burners. None. What were they thinking? If you are going to put headbanger music on a record, you have got to include at least one killer guitar solo......per song. But with this disc, zilch, nada, nichts. Air guitarists all over the world are in need of new material. I mean, everyone needs rhythm guitarists, but the last one who had any cool factor was Pete Townshend, right? He had the whole windmill chord busting going, but name one since him that has had the fame he continues with to today. Now, to Day of Fire's credit they can probably play these songs live, with no problem. No worries about fat-fingering that blistering lead from the top 10 hit for them.
Musically, the most radio-friendly song is Track 7, “Rain Song”. Starts off with some harmonic picking and a chorused acoustic that moves throughout most of the track. Like Creed had several genre-crossover hits; including giant power chords, this track is likely one that, if any, will keep Day of Fire in the bins at the local Wal-Mart for more than just a few weeks.
Track 8 is an acoustic guitar solo piece that holds interest for about 15 seconds; and it doesn't go anywhere from there. It's pretty much the same few phrases repeated over several times. The title of the track is "Adrianne," which is the name of Joshua's wife, so it's hard to discredit a song dedicated to his wife, but this one should have stayed at home.
"Jacob's Dream" is the title of Track 9 and fortunately we have another song that could lift Day of Fire above mediocrity. Not because it's a killer track musically, but it does cause one to think of what it might have been like to be Jacob, with that wild dream, using a stone for a pillow. What was it like to be the father of Israel? There is a small attempt at a guitar solo in this song, about 1:55 into the track, but it is very faint in the background, and sounds not unlike what you might hear down the street emanating from the garage of some high-schooler's thrashing it out wanting to 'make it big'.
Track 10, 'Reap and Sow', sounds like the CD player has skipped back to tracks 2, 4 and 6. Notice a pattern here? Filler material.
Track 11, sounds almost like the same base material as 2, 4, 6 and 10. It's a forgettable song.
Day of Fire really can't be blamed for the abundance of unremarkable songs on this CD. This is the fault of the producers. This is clearly an album that was not ready for offering to the public. What is so surprising is that the executive producers of this CD include Robert Beeson. Yeah, you know that name. Can you say “Jars of Clay”? As evidenced in most of the odd numbered tracks on this CD, Day of Fire are capable of solid songwriting. They needed better guidance than what was given on this CD. Day of Fire should have been made to wait for at least three more solid songs and included some standout lead guitar work. What is really odd is that some of the guitar credit is given to Phil X of Alanis Morrissette and Avril Lavigne fame, and the promo material brags about the producer being Scott Humphrey, who has done work for Metallica, Motely Crue and the like. This CD really should have two ratings, one for the band and their message of hope, which would be four tocks, and one tock for the production, which would get 0.5 tocks.
Scott Lake December 11, 2004