After not gaining much momentum from a major label debut, many wondered where Guardian would go from there. The band answered - loudly - with Fire and Love - an album that proved they were just getting warmed up with their previous album. To this day, scores of fans still name this as one of their favorite albums by Guardian.
Title: Fire and Love (Legends Remastered)
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 11 tracks/50:06 min.
I will come out and admit that Fire and Love is one of my all time favorite commercial metal albums. Now I know that some would argue that it is hard rock, but when this first came out in 1991 - it was metal. Guardian successfully captured what many of us saw as the perfection of "metal for the masses." You see, the 80s was a pretty cocky time. We thought our generation was perfecting everything: perfecting music, style, movies, culture, you name it. We also looked at ourselves as part of making this culture, because actually buying physical media gives you a better sense of connection to those that made the art (by voting with our limited funds). In the metal world, "we" had successfully tamed down the excess of glam and mixed in the better parts of the blues rock of the 69s/70s to create this commercial metal sound that was just rebellious enough to bug the parental units, but not out there enough to destroy the ozone layer with too much hairspray. Bands like Slaughter were on the more pop metal end of the spectrum of perfection, while bands like Guns N' Roses were on the more rebellious end of this spectrum. And the record labels knew it - they were pumping out band after band on Headbanger's Ball every week to fill this style spectrum: Hurricane, Lion, Herricane Alice, Rock City Angels, etc. In hindsight, we should have seen the death of 80s music coming because of this oversaturation... but little did we know that the 90s were coming to prove we really hadn't perfected culture - just some small pieces of it (that soon went out of style).
Guardian toned down the glam and space imagery of First Watch and added a good dose of blues and pop influence to find the sweet spot right in the middle of that "perfection spectrum" on Fire and Love. Unfortunately, they were probably just a couple of years late to make a huge splash with it in the general market. Even though the metal market wasn't totally dead in early 1991, it was just close enough to call at the time. Whether it is the driving groove of the opening track "Power of Love," the urgency of "Time and Time Again," or the muscle and drive of "Send a Message Out" - this album has it all. Within these 10 sings you will find the hooks, the looks, and the message that added up to not only Christian metal perfection, but general commercial metal perfection as well. My favorite track was and still is "The Rain" - one of the most driving, emotional, and neck cramp-inducing songs any pop metal band has ever produced. And now Retroactive Records has created the perfect package for this album. It is hard to remaster an album that had nearly flawless sonics the first time around, but they did manage to improve the sound overall. The packaging is well designed and complete... and you even get a bonus track that expands the diversity of the album even further (the acoustic romp of "Take Up Your Cross" originally on the Portrait of a Spirit compilation). Overall, an excellent re-release of a most excellent album. David Bach, Tony Palacios, Jamie Rowe, and Karl Ney went on to record many more albums that jumped around from blue hard rock to acoustic rock modern alternative rock (all of which are top notch in their own genre), but this is the album that hit the right style at the right time for me.
5 of 5 of tocks