Fire From The Gods – Soul Revolution
Released: October 28, 2022
AJ Channer // lead Vocals
Drew Walker // Lead Guitar
Bonner Baker // Bass
Jameson Teat // Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Richard Wicander // Drums
Fire From the Gods (FFTG) returns with their third nu-metal onslaught in the form of Soul Revolution. As part of the nu metal revival, FFTG have crafted a collection of heavy, down-tuned jams, capped by AJ Channer’s aggressive rapping. It might be easy to scoff at bands still pushing the rap/metal bandwagon but far from the collection of SoCal and Florida kids who fronted the late 90s bands, FFTG have an authenticity that stems from Rage Against the Machine rather than Faith No More or Beastie Boys. That’s not to say it’s all politically charged as there is a real merging of the personal and political on this one.
From the get to that merging of personal and political perspectives is obvious. The likes of ‘Soul Revolution’ and ‘SOS’ offer fat riffs and phat rhymes but with a sense of soul and purpose. The title track in particular throws a lot out there in terms of vocals, and most of it lands. Channer channels reggae at times too, ably backed by changes in tempo and guitar texture. ‘I N I’ mixes it up with a heavy dub influence and some great melodic vocals, punctuated by hardcore screams. The crossing of genres makes little sense on paper but pulls together well on record. It’s way more Dub War (showing my age) than P.O.D. (confirming my age).
As with most nu-metal, there can be an issue with the riffs. Quite simply the down-tuned nature makes it tricky to distinguish guitar parts when it is so thick in the bottom end. FFTG’s guitar duo shine much better on the verses where they often separate into clearer lead and rhythm parts, rather than smashing the same chords. It means, from a guitar perspective at least, a lot of songs end up sounding the same.
The single ‘Thousand Lifetimes’ showcases the best and worst of this, with the verses really working and the chorus only saved by Channer’s clean singing. ‘Double Edged Sword’ is distinguishable from the last track because of the edge to the bridge, and indeed, a lot of this rests on Channer’s charisma, versatility and the band’s ability to combine with this.
The other genre staple is the nu-power ballad and it’s here we really mix things up. Over a cool piano part, Channer cuts the rap to sing on ‘Love is Dangerous’. It reminds me of Living Colour (damn I’m old) in that there’s certainly an opportunity to reach a wider audience by being prepared to cross genres. Certainly, the heavy stuff is fine, but being able to pull off such an epic song and still sound like themselves is a tricky balancing act. It stands out on this record and is probably my favourite track. It’s pretty dramatic and needs a great video to go with it. ‘World So Cold’ opens acapella, with more of an alt-metal vibe that does give the guitars space. Maybe it was the “oh oh oh” call out but I got Eurovision vibes so it should be a great festival track. ‘Be Free’ caps off this cool trio with a heavier ballad style and inspiring lyrics. It’s simplistic but really hard to resist and leads nicely into a post-chorus breakdown that’ll get the neck snapping. Drew Walker gets in some cool leads too though is pushed back in the mix more than it should be.
‘The Message’ is tremendous. Ragga-metal lives and the nu-metal label doesn’t work here. Way cooler and effortless than ‘Nookie’ or other associations the genre might have. FFTG really lean into their own cultural touchstones and leave other bands in their dust. ‘8 Billion Rats’ continues the atmosphere with a strong appeal to personal pride, while ‘Rapture’ also serves as a heavy reggae tune rather than rap-metal. ‘Collapse’ really throws it all together, much like the opening title track, making for a nice closer
Soul Revolution is a cool album for fans and has the potential to draw in some others too. Far beyond metal and rock music, melding together sounds that suit the lyrical message and not only reach back into the past, but push the genre to a more diverse and inclusive future. It’s not easily digestible, which might isolate some, but it also means it demands your attention.
Fire From the Gods – Soul Revolution Tracklisting
- Soul Revolution
- I N I
- Thousand Lifetimes
- Double Edged Sword
- Love Is Dangerous
- World So Cold
- Be Free
- The Message
- 8 Billion Rats
- Rapture (Fool Dem)