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Fueled by Fire - Spread the Fire Review

by Mark Hensch

The retro thrash movement just keeps getting hotter and hotter. Speed metal revivalists Fueled by Fire are no exception, and 2007's Spread the Fire as such flies the flag for oldschool thrash metal with reckless abandon. Blistering ears with a raw, focused attack recalling earlier acts like Exodus, Testament, and Slayer, Fueled by Fire hope that their latest offering reinvents thrash for the newest generation.

But just how bright does Spread the Fire's flame burn? For the entire band's manic boasting, many are already aware of the thrash revival.

How could any self-respecting metalhead miss it? Greats like Exodus, Slayer, Megadeth, and the like will not leave the limelight, while newer bands like Municipal Waste, Merciless Death, and Dekapitator have been starting pits of their own for quite a while now. With this in mind, is the thrash on Spread the Fire worth fanning into a bigger blaze?

In my opinion the answer leans towards a resounding "Hell Yes!" The instrumental "Ernest Goes to Hell" surely kicks things off right, exploding out of the stereos with rabid ferocity and galloping leads.

From there, things only get more intense. The call-to-arms that is "Thrash is Back" loudly and proudly proclaims a return to the days of the Bay Area's reigning speed metal titans. All the hallmarks of the genre are there, from air raid siren wails to mob violence gang vocals to glorious, glorious riffs. If thrash is indeed back, this sure makes it sound like it never really left.

"Striking Death" shows just how clever thrash originally was---simply take a furious meat cleaver of a hook and play it as loud and fast as you can. Fueled by Fire exploit that formula here, putting an epic, gnarly chord progression through all manner of speed metal abuse.

After this, "Spread the Fire!!!" begins with a guitar stomp worthy of early Iron Maiden before breaking down into a rolling bass line. With the kegs now perfectly primed, the band incinerates everything in sight with a sweaty mix of catchy gang vocals and ever-changing fireball riffs.

"Betrayal" tries so hard to be fast with an immediately face-melting lead it almost flies right off the flight plan. Fueled by Fire wisely reigns things back in, choosing instead the path of slowly churning chaos. As such, "Betrayal" is a smooth headbanger running on nothing but motor oil and it sure smells like it---this one burns some serious rubber.

"Massive Execution" ironically enough begins with a slick portion of a classical piece whose name escapes me at the moment, only to launch into more familiar thrash territory. The purist Exodus worship on here is top-notch, with the riffs being both sprinting cheetah fast and just as deadly. Check this monster out if you get a chance.

"Metal Forever" delivers just what the title says it will---a straightforward assault on all five senses with the might of true thrash. This is what Metallica wishes their next album will sound like.

"Dreams of Terror" launches off the starting line with a circle pit inducing riff, all before kicking in a few more teeth with some blink-or-you'll-miss-it speed picking. The choruses, meanwhile, are loud, angry, and right in one's face, meaning that even if they do not immediately stick in the brain they will have to eventually.

"Command of the Beast" closes the album with one fun song formula. It takes a wicked little riff, gradually speeds it up, and keeps the tempo shifts fresh by constantly throwing all manner of guitar picking techniques at the listener. When the shouted vocals do blare out, the song takes on a whole new level of viciousness and finishes the album by leaving fans reeling.

It is also worth noting that an original pressing of the album featured two more songs beyond the ones listed above. The first, "Chaotic Punishment," skitters and slays with wildly swinging thrash sounding like a whirlwind of pain. This makes for a confusing moment when, minutes later, "Put to Death" presents itself as a new song while in reality featuring many of the hyper-speed slammers "Chaotic Punishment" initially dished out. Regardless, both are pretty good songs, so it is not a huge complaint.

As far as resurrecting the thrash genre's heyday goes, Fueled by Fire's Spread the Fire rings pretty true. The only defect in this album is ironically enough the band's obvious passion for the genre. Time and time again, Fueled by Fire are compelled to brag about just how "thrash" they really are, which seems heavy-handed given the music on display. Besides this minor quip, Spread the Fire burns white hot and is a sweet record bound to please the old denim-and-spikes set every bit as much as relative thrash rookies.

Fueled by Fire's Spread the Fire
1. Ernest Goes to Hell
2. Thrash is Back
3. Striking Death
4. Spread the Fire!!!
5. Betrayal
6. Massive Execution
7. Metal Forever
8. Dreams of Terror
9. Command of the Beast
10. Chaotic Punishment
11. Put to Death

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Fueled by Fire - Spread the Fire


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